As individuals, we have all heard advice on how to reduce our carbon emissions. Turn the TV off instead of leaving it on standby; use public transport; wear a jumper instead of turning the thermostat up. While reducing individual emissions is vital for stemming carbon emissions, businesses also have a huge part to play in the fight against climate change. With so many ways to reduce emissions, there is no reason not to operate more sustainably. Here are some simple ways your Norfolk business, large or small, can do just that. Read on to find out how to reduce the environmental impacts of your Norfolk Business …
Implementing recycling points at your workplace is an easy way to reduce your carbon outputs. It can also motivate your teams to engage in sustainable practices. Recycling reduces the raw materials needed to produce products, so increasing recycling rates is one of the best ways we can all help to preserve the earth’s natural resources and reduce carbon. For instance, recycling a single aluminium can could save energy to power a computer for a full hour. Tins are also able to be recycled over and over again without limits.
It is a similar story for paper recycling. One ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees from deforestation, in addition to 7,000 gallons of water, 4,000 kWh energy, 380 gallons of oil, and 3 cubic yards of landfill space. When it comes to paper recycling, however, it’s worth being mindful of confidential information. The GDPR requires businesses to treat personal or identifiable information securely, so it’s a good idea to shred all paperwork before you recycle it. At Shred Station, we both use and recommend a “Shred Everything” policy for all paperwork. This avoids employees potentially making the wrong decision about which documents to recycle and which to shred. Reputable shredding companies will recycle 100% of their shredded paper, so by using a shredding service you can get the best of both worlds – recycling and data security.
Use recycled or sustainable products
As with recycling, contributing to a circular economy and buying recycled products will aid in the conservation of resources.
Using paper as an example, recycled paper reduces the number of trees required to produce goods. Not only does this help with carbon reduction, but it also helps save nature’s habitats. In the last 30 years, the world’s insect decline has taken a huge hit of almost 25%. A big contributor to this loss is habitat destruction. This loss affects a huge amount of life in the food chain. UK woodland bird populations have reduced around 25% in the last 50 years, and we’ve also lost 50% of the UK’s butterfly population in the same time.
Recycled options can be a bit more expensive, but the wider environmental cost of using brand-new products where recycled options are available is much higher.
Use green energy and take steps to reduce energy consumption
Green energy is widely available for businesses of all sizes, and green energy doesn’t necessarily cost a premium. It’s worth considering when your energy contracts are up for renewal, and it’s a great way to reduce your emissions. If your business has cash reserves, you could even invest in renewable energy resources.
At Shred Station’s head office, we use solar power to reduce our energy bills and carbon footprint. As electricity usage is assessed as part of our CarbonNeutral® company certification, using solar power has the additional benefit of reducing our offsetting costs.
There are many steps you can take to reduce your company’s energy consumption. You can use LED lighting, turn lights and computers off when leaving the office, enable battery-saving modes on PCs and devices, and buy office kitchen appliances and white goods that have high energy ratings. Another big saver is heating. Reducing your thermostat temperature by just 1°C can reduce space heating energy by 13%. If your staff wear a uniform, you could also provide seasonal attire to keep staff cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This will save heating and air conditioning usage.
Buy used office furniture
As the motto goes, reduce, reuse, recycle. Buying used office furniture will save your company a bit of cash and reduce your environmental impacts. Buying second-hand will avoid contributing to further depletion of resources like wood and metal.
There are many second-hand office furniture stores in Norfolk. Just because something is second-hand, doesn’t mean it’s low-quality, either. Plenty of used office furniture companies stock high-end brands at low prices.
Sustainably sourced or FSC certified furniture is also a good option. These ensure furniture is made from responsibly sourced forest products.
Use sustainable suppliers & buy local
Going beyond the emissions of your own Norfolk business, it is important to use sustainable suppliers. Also, of course, buy local where possible! If you’re pulling out all the stops to reduce your footprint, but your suppliers are not, you could be funding unsustainable practices.
You can tell a lot about a business by the accreditations they hold, and one important accreditation to look out for is ISO 14001. This certification gives proof that the supplier has environmental management at the heart of their Quality Management System, and is improving resource efficiency and waste reduction. Be very cautious when using suppliers who don’t express their environmental policies within their corporate social responsibility efforts, and use CarbonNeutral® certified suppliers where possible.
Switch to hybrid or fully electric company cars and fleet vehicles
A ban on new petrol and diesel cars is coming into effect in 2030. Now could be a good time to get ahead and start transitioning your company vehicles to hybrid or fully electric models. With huge investments into electric vehicles, there are increasing numbers of more affordable models on the market now, too. For instance, the Skoda CITIGOe iV and SEAT e-Mii Electric – both around £15,000-£16,000 new, are widely available. With more affordable models coming out each year, it brings the potential to own electric vehicles a possibility for businesses of all sizes.
At Shred Station, we have already started the transition to hybrid or electric vehicles and can charge electric cars at each of our depots. These chargers are available for staff to use, further encouraging more sustainable road travel. We will also soon be trialling the world’s first fully electric HGV with Volta Trucks!
The UK’s approximate CO2 produced by cars is around 38 million tonnes per year, so if we all switched to electric, we could make a huge dent in the nation’s carbon footprint.
Host virtual meetings and events
As most of the country’s working population took on remote working through 2020 and 2021’s lockdowns, we probably all had some kind of experience with virtual meetings. While the virtual world may be something we’re all desperate to escape, consider whether future meetings and events could still be hosted online. This will save staff commuting times, travel expenses, and reduce business travel emissions.
Use public transport or car share for business trips
If your business trips or events must be held in person, using public transport or car-sharing is one great way to reduce emissions.
A single passenger car journey in a medium, petrol car has a carbon footprint of around 192g/km. This is 42g higher than the average emissions of a long-haul economy flight per passenger! Using buses (105g/km per passenger) or rail services (41g/km per passenger) is much more eco-friendly, and so is car-sharing. Having two passengers in a petrol car halves the carbon footprint per passenger, making it more eco-friendly to rideshare than it would be to take a bus!
Start offsetting carbon now
The UK is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050. The sooner we hit this target, the better chance we have of minimising even more environmental damage.
Bear in mind, offsetting carbon on its own isn’t enough to make up for years of operating in unsustainable ways. You should also implement other environmental policies and ways of reducing emissions on top of offsetting.
At Shred Station, we take many measures to reduce our emissions and offset everything we do produce to net-zero. This has allowed us to be CarbonNeutral® certified since 2019. The cost of carbon-neutral certification depends entirely on the size of your business and the emissions you produce. A certification partner will be able to help you find the most cost-effective option for your business.
A great way to offset carbon and even improve staff wellness is to plant trees or create a staff garden. This will attract wildlife, help to sequester carbon, and give your team a place to unwind during their breaks. If you haven’t got space at your premises to do these things, there are countless low-cost tree planting projects online. While you may be unable to see the trees grow, you can still contribute to tree-planting and biodiversity efforts.
At Shred Station, we have a Shred a Tonne, Plant a Tree scheme in place. This scheme allows our customers to opt-in and have a tree planted on their behalf for every tonne of paper they have shredded with us. This scheme is easy to manage, great for the planet and loved by our customers.
Get your customers and employees involved
One of the best ways to reduce the environmental impacts of your Norfolk business is to get your customers and employees involved. Your workers and customers may well have many great ideas of their own to tackle climate change. Involving staff is essential as they will know your organisation inside-out. They can also act as your ear on the ground with regards to what your customers want.
Consumer preference trends show that people prefer buying eco-friendly options for goods and services. They are also willing to pay a premium to do so. Happy customers mean less stress for your teams, so instilling environmentally-friendly ways of thinking throughout your business is a win-win situation.
At Shred Station, our CarbonNeutral® status and environmental commitments are big reasons our customers choose us over competitors. Our eco-policies let us operate in a way that satisfies our ethos to cause minimal environmental damage and satisfy our customers at the same time.