20 January 2015

Insight

8 ways business is helping to protect the environment

The world is facing a number of environmental challenges; from global warming to resource efficiency and the UK has long been at the forefront of the effort to tackle these issues. Business understands its environmental impact and is taking action to be part of the solution creating a greener, low-carbon and more sustainable economy.

8 ways business is helping to protect the environment

Businesses are:

1. Putting environmental issues front and centre

Sustainability is no longer on the side-line in commercial planning but integral to operations, allowing businesses to reduce costs, enter new markets and improve corporate reputation. It affects everyone in a business from the CEO to those on the factory floor. Companies are looking at ways to cut waste, reduce energy usage or source raw materials sustainably. Many businesses making going even further in their commitments, for example by reusing all waste or backing a global price on carbon.

2. Encouraging their global supply chains to do the same

For most businesses, sustainability plans now extend beyond their daily operations and into the entire supply chain. To determine its true environmental footprint, Nike looks at everything from raw materials production to how consumers dispose of products after use to measure and minimise its environmental impact.

3. Setting ambitious targets to cut their carbon emissions

All businesses use energy, and, manufacturing processes such as melting steel or firing bricks use a significant amount with the average yearly energy bill for a large industrial user costing almost £10 million. To mitigate this many businesses are committed to cutting energy use and setting ambitious targets to reduce their carbon footprint. For instance, the cement sector is aiming for an 81% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

4. Building greener homes

Businesses are not only cutting their own carbon emissions but are creating the plans and products to build zero-carbon homes. Homebuilders are using sustainable materials and innovative products to construct homes that have zero – or even negative – carbon emissions. Using cutting edge energy efficiency measures and harnessing renewable energy, the UK’s housing stock is becoming ever greener.

5. Helping schools, hospitals and public buildings to reduce carbon

Sharing knowledge, skills and resources, business is helping to make our public buildings greener. Whether this is by educating children on global warming or providing solar panels for schools, programmes like British Gas’s ‘Generation Green’ which helps over 13,000 schools across the UK  by providing classroom resources, education experiences and sustainable energy technologies, go a some way towards protecting the environment for future generations.

6. Making the things we buy more environmentally friendly and cheaper

From Toyota’s Prius to Nissan’s Leaf to Tesla’s Model S, car manufacturers are competing to produce ever more fuel efficient, environmentally friendly models without comprising range, comfort and style. Not only are ours cars becoming more environmentally friendly, electrical manufacturers are working to make the electrical products we use more energy efficient and cheaper to run which is good for the customer and good for the environment. For example, an energy saving fridge freezer could save up to £45 per year on energy bills.

7. Saving trees by planting rainforests and reducing paper waste

To halt deforestation and protect the rainforests of the world, businesses are putting back what they take out and being smarter with their paper usage. Since 2004, Sainsbury’s has planted 2.2 million trees, the equivalent of four Sherwood Forests. Companies are monitoring closely their waste paper and recycling as much as possible.

 8. Innovating to provide low-carbon solutions

Business isn’t taking a back seat in the transition to a low-carbon economy but innovating to give the UK a leading edge in tackling climate change by developing technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), hydrogen power or demand response. The UK has established itself an attractive place to invest in developing CCS, which is the only way to reduce emissions and keep coal and gas in the UK’s long-term energy mix.

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