With Glasgow set to be the host of climate conference COP26 in November there’s no better time for businesses to be thinking about more sustainable practises, as not only are there benefits for the environment, but also, increased efficiency too.

There is no doubt that this year has been extremely challenging for many businesses across Scotland impacted by the Covid 19 pandemic, however adopting sustainable methods provides an opportunity to get to green in every sense.

Scottish Enterprise sustainability team leader Ian Carstairs explains how embracing sustainable practises can help businesses to reduce costs and risks whilst also responding to challenges and future opportunities.

Ian said: “In the fast-changing business landscape we find ourselves in many companies are looking for ways to ‘build back better’ in the post-Covid 19 world by developing new products, exploring new markets, and implementing innovative ways of working.

“There are a growing number of companies of all sizes across all sectors who are using the disruption to their established business models as an opportunity to do things better, more efficiently and with a reduced impact on the environment.

“This is where Scottish Enterprise’s sustainability specialists can help with a wide range of tools and resources to get the right support to your business to do the right thing by the environment and improve your bottom line too.

“Our team has helped companies identify over 700,000 tonnes of CO2 savings since 2018 already and that is the equivalent of taking half a million cars off the road!”

You can help us showcase Scotland as a centre of global excellence when it comes to sustainable ways of doing business by following these six sustainable tips or get in touch to see what the team can do for you.

1. Develop a strategy – A net zero strategy is not only an ideal way for a company to state its ambition, objectives, targets and proposed actions, it’s also an opportunity to make sure that the whole organisation is invested in your journey towards sustainability. It’s important to seek out ideas from within your own business, and to look for ways to incorporate these ideas into your sustainability strategy.

2. Take people with you on your net zero journey – Once your strategy is in place, communicating clear goals and objectives will ensure that employees across the business have a greater understanding of the businesses commitment and what is expected of them individually, or as teams, to help achieve these.

Driving environmental improvement is not just the role of your Health, safety, quality and environment (HSQE) Manager or your workplace green team, it needs commitment from all levels of your organisation.

3. Save money and the environment – Taking steps to be more sustainable can provide more than just CO2 savings. For many businesses looking to become more sustainable, the main factors driving their decision-making process will be environmental however managing resources such as energy, waste and water can provide cost savings and improve your reputation too, giving you a market edge.

The first step is to make sure you’ve carried out a baseline energy review or carbon footprint of your operations. This will help you understand the scale of your emissions and where to prioritise your improvements.

You may also want to explore the carbon impact of your product or service throughout its lifecycle. For example, could you design for re-manufacture, consider using recycled or recyclable materials, reduce packaging, make your product easier to transport or deliver your service differently to reduce emissions?

By effectively monitoring and managing your resource use and investing in the right technologies you can future-proof your business and make savings.

4. Collaborate to reduce CO2 – It’s important to engage with your customers to let them know your values and work with them to understand any issues or opportunities you could work on together.

Reach out to them, undertake surveys as you may find there are areas you could address together for your mutual benefit. More and more customers for example are procuring products and services based on their sustainability credentials. You should therefore consider adopting a supplier framework that favours the goods and services that lower environmental impact.

Work with your supply chain too and help them understand your requirements and look for ways to influence them to take opportunities around sustainability too.

5. Manage the risks of climate change with a plan and seize the opportunities – Climate change is happening now and poses a genuine risk to business continuity for companies across Scotland. It is important to be ready for any risks whether these may be changes to operations due to extreme weather or customer-related shifts in behaviour linked to changing habits.

If you develop a climate change action plan or include climate impact in an existing business continuity plan you can mitigate against any risks.

Where there’s risk, there’s also opportunities. Customers will look for new product and services that are less carbon intensive. There will also be a market for goods and services that can help others mitigate and adapt to the risks posed by climate change.

6. Share success – Climate change and sustainable business practices might not be new concepts, but they’ve never been more prominent in the public eye than now. There are already many Scottish businesses who put environmental sustainability at the heart of what they do and we need them to share their success and the challenges they faced.

Sustainability makes business sense so don’t be afraid to shout about it. There are many ways that being more sustainable can help a business – from cost reduction, improved brand value, enhanced reputation, development of innovative products, attraction and retention of staff and better relationships with communities and stake holders.

If your business is at the beginning of its journey towards sustainability, it’s important to seek out ideas and inspiration from those companies that have already made considerable progress on the path to a low carbon future.

Next steps

Sustainability specialists at Scottish Enterprise work with companies of all sizes across all sectors to help them do things better, more efficiently and with a reduced impact on the environment. The support is very diverse and includes help with:

  • Improving business premises
  • Developing products and services
  • Making processes and operations more efficient
  • Marketing, PR and people

For more information call the sustainability team on 0300 013 3385 or fill out the enquiry form at: www.scottish-enterprise.com/support-for-businesses/business-development-and-advice/business-sustainability/sustainability-enquiry