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How your business can cut its carbon footprint in 2021

With the COP26 climate conference coming to Scotland this year, there’s never been a better time to act on your emissions. Scotland is committed to becoming a net-zero nation by 2045 so if your business doesn’t have a plan to cut emissions, you’ll need one soon.

All businesses have opportunities to cut carbon, whether it’s from travel, your electricity and heating, or the products you buy. Going green is also a chance to make savings and give you an edge over your less-sustainable competitors.

Here are a few ideas for things you can do cut your carbon footprint in 2021. 

Benchmark your emissions

Data is now among the world’s most valuable commodities and it’s not just customer data that is increasingly valuable. If you want to reduce your emissions, and measure your progress over time, you need to know where they are coming from. 

If you’re new to this, start simple. Speak to your energy provider or record your electricity and gas meter readings to understand how much energy you are consuming. You can get even better data by investing in monitoring devices which can pinpoint energy use to certain times of day, activities, and equipment, helping you see where reductions might be possible. 

You can use the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s  to convert your energy consumption into emissions, giving you a solid benchmark to work from.

Avoid a post-pandemic bounce back

For many businesses, corporate travel and commuting will be one of the biggest sources of emissions. With staff working from home, and travelling for meetings a hazy memory, there’s a good chance your emissions today are already down. Now is the perfect time to be thinking about how you can make some of those reductions permanent. 

Recent months have shown us that video conferencing is a viable option for almost all meetings, so consider making video your default option. 

You could also consider if your entire workforce needs to return to the office. Zero Waste Scotland’s day-to-day emissions fell by nearly 75% thanks to homeworking and we have now offered all our staff the chance to do so permanently. Energy emissions may rise with homeworking, but they will be more than offset by the reduction in commuting and business travel. It won’t work for everyone, but it could be a great way to cut your climate impact.Now is also a good time to make your business more energy efficient. Zero Waste Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Business Support Service offers free advice to SMEs to help them cut their energy bills and reduce their carbon emissions. Visit www.energy.zerowastescotland.org.uk for a free energy assessment and to see if you could benefit from a cash back loan. 

Get your offsets right

If you are aiming to be net-zero, there are two things you will need to do – reduce your emissions as much as you can, and then offset what you cannot prevent. Offsets are investments that balance out emissions, such as planting trees. 

Reducing emissions is always better than offsetting them. Where you are buying them, make sure you invest wisely. Not all offsets are equal, so look for a badge of quality, such as offsets from Labelled Verified Emissions Reductions Schemes which meet either the Gold Standard or the Woodland or Peatland Carbon codes. Over time, your reliance on offsetting should steadily decline, as your emissions get smaller.

Green your supply chain

The products and services you consume often have a bigger climate impact than your own energy use, so taking steps to green your supply chain can result in huge emissions savings.

Embedding sustainability in your procurement policies can not only reduce the carbon footprint of your business – it can turn your cash into a driver of emissions reductions across the wider economy. 

One simple approach is to switch from buying to renting. From your vehicle fleet to your printers, renting is proven to have environmental benefits, with rented products receiving routine maintenance and reused once you’re no longer using them. 

 

For more ideas on read our net-zero plan

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