Going 100% green: Is it really possible? What does it really mean when a business goes ‘green’? With competitors racing to become the most sustainable in their industry, outdated practices can be disguised by eco-friendly language in a deceptive form of advertising known as greenwashing.
In a complicated and challenging time for multiple sectors, genuine efforts to be kinder to the planet are still necessary. Whether you’re making progress with your own business or there’s a new opportunity playing on your mind, knowing how to spot, implement, and maintain environmentally friendly trading practices is essential.
What does it mean for a business to go green?
Eco-friendly business practices fall across a wide spectrum. On a personal level, they might involve lifestyle changes for employees, like shortening their commute or using public transport. On a structural level, going green could be upgrading equipment, using biodegradable materials, refining processes, and committing to national initiatives.
Sustainability is one of the most pressing issues in the corporate sphere. Pressure from the government is met by a growing demand for eco-friendly business practices among clients; at least four out of five UK consumers prefer to buy products with eco-friendly packaging materials.
What does ‘net zero’ mean and how can it be achieved?
The government’s Net Zero Strategy proposes that businesses and communities in the UK should adhere to policies aiming to decarbonise all sectors. It envisions that, by 2050, the UK will solely rely on renewable energy sources, removing fossil fuels from the economy.
For many businesses, responding to this initiative will involve a major upheaval of processes, resourcing, and growth. A few of the ways that companies can work towards net zero include:
- Reduce vehicle emissions
Daily travel in vehicles that run on conventional fuel types is harmful to the planet. While petrol and diesel company fleets can’t always be entirely swapped out for electric vehicles, making the shift could contribute significantly to reducing a company’s carbon footprint.
- Renewable energy projects
Most greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to energy use. Along with households, the energy, manufacturing and transport sectors accounted for 82% of all fossil fuel energy use in the UK in 2020.
More businesses are therefore taking on renewable energy projects to decrease their carbon footprints. Such new initiatives include the installation of specialist equipment, including solar panels and air source heat pumps.
Despite a large upfront cost, these corporate projects can be backed by renewable energy insurance to help mitigate the potential risks involved in the process. And with the support of external funding or government grants, green projects become an essential investment.
- Core updates and training
In many industries, simple changes to outdated systems and processes could make a positive impact for the planet. With the introduction of hybrid working policies, for example, colleagues reduce their own carbon emissions by not needing to commute.
Similarly, where feasible, businesses should replace physical documents, which require carbon to print and distribute, with paperless technologies. Single-use products should be removed from the workplace and employees should be encouraged to reuse and recycle.
Can we achieve net zero?
The government’s proposal to reach net zero by 2050 might seem ambitious. However, streamlined efforts are being made to focus on the production of clean energy. Many leading energy companies in the UK now offer tariffs to customers using entirely renewable energy rather than fossil fuels.
The question remains as to whether the planet is damaged beyond repair. As climate change continues, we can only attempt to compensate for the emissions that can’t be reduced to zero. This is known as offsetting – and it can be achieved by planting new forests, for example.
Businesses across the globe need to focus on sustainability and eco-friendly practices. Above all, industries should shift from fossil fuels and power their factories, machines, and operations with renewables instead. With this combined effort, achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050 will be much more likely.
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