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Your Business and the Environment

By: Garry Pierrepont - Updated: 24 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Social Responsibility Environment

The twenty-first Century has seen much greater awareness of man’s effect on the environment, and, finally, there seems to be a realisation that the actions of man could have a crucial and potentially devastating effect on the planet. Is there anything that businesses can do to help?

Corporate Social Responsibility

Large corporations have simply had to take on board ideas that will help the environment. Most large corporations now have a plan for “corporate social responsibility” which includes plans for how they are going to reduce or compensate for their carbon footprint.

It is harder for smaller companies, many of whom struggle to survive in the business world, and for whom, even measuring such things as their carbon footprint would take up too much time or money. Over the long term, however, it is something they will need to address.

In the current economic crisis it is likely that the public will have a period of understanding for small businesses not putting environmental concerns at the top of their agenda. However, when we emerge from the recession, it will quickly return, and those companies who have an environmental policy already in place will have a head start.

Waste

Manufacturing companies will need to make sure that their waste is clean and dealt with in the most efficient way possible. If not, taxes and fines will be hard-hitting and give companies a real financial headache. Toxic fumes, for example, are already subject to fines.

Firms that are office-based also need to make strides in the direction of “sustainability”. Reviews of their use of office materials such as paper, ink, electricity, gas, water provide opportunities for saving. However, businesses might go further, and look at their use of furniture, office space itself and all office materials. What could they recycle? What could they avoid using all together?

Transport

When the price of fuel reached around £1.25 a litre in autumn 2008, people actually reduced the use of their cars. It can be done! Businesses can do the same. With use of technology – PCs, webcams, instant message services, mobile phones – there are great opportunities for holding ‘virtual’ meetings – without the need to be in the same room at all. While the need to move goods and equipment around is undoubted, businesses should explore the possibilities for cutting down on moving people around. Not only will they save fuel from an environmental point of view, but they will save fuel costs and time wasted with people ‘on the road’.

Although still not as convenient, public transport is likely to come to the fore as businesses try to cut down their fuel use, but it will be a long time before public transport is more popular than using a car.

Recycling

Recycling and re-use will become more and more important. With the distinct possibility that companies will be taxed on the amount of rubbish they produce, the pressure will be on to reduce waste. Firms will look at what they can re-use within their own environment, and how much they recycle of the rest. The less they chuck out, the better for them and the environment as a whole.

Tell The World

Many companies already tell the world about what charities they support – either in their literature or on their website. As we have mentioned, many large firms have a corporate social responsibility programme and they all talk about it in their annual reports, and on their website. For smaller companies, there is no reason why they should not have a page on their website dedicated to their own ‘green’ efforts. Tell the world how you have cut down on use of materials, and how your staff work from home to avoid transport costs etc.

In the world of business, where every little helps, the chance to save money and tell everyone about it to get even more favourable views is an opportunity that companies should not reject.

Businesses should have the environment as one of the core values, and a section in their business plan on their plan to help the environment is a must.

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