Five ways to reduce your environmental impact as a small business

May 15, 2017 | Good Management

Although this is straying away from- true ‘HR’, it’s certainly true to say that a business which has a good corporate social responsibility record is an attractive employer, and recruitment and retention of good team members is something all small businesses are concerned about.

One of the significant ways you can look to be a- better’, more responsible business is by trying to minimise your environmental impact, and by considering environmental issues and factors in your business decision making.

Here are five ways you can do that:

1. Complying with legislation

Obviously this one is not only about being a more responsible business, it’s about your legal obligations. Regulation can be burdensome on small businesses but familiarising yourself with the requirements as they apply to you will avoid legal headaches as well as make you a more responsible business owner.

Environmental regulation on business will vary depending on the nature of what you do, but will encompass things like waste classification and disposal (particularly hazardous waste), storage and handling of hazardous substances, emissions and pollution prevention.

2. Smart use of resources

Take some time to review your use of resources. There will be consumables you are not using efficiently, are throwing away too soon, not reusing when you could, or not recycling. As well as the environmental impact, clearly better use of resources makes commercial sense.

Paper alone is a massive issue for most businesses. Are your printers set to print both sides of the paper? Do you encourage staff to print two sheets to a page? Do you have a policy of not printing documents unless absolutely necessary? These three actions can significantly reduce your paper consumption.

3. Recycling

As well as reducing the quantities of paper and other consumables you are using in the first place, make sure you are recycling where possible. Many more items are recyclable now than used to be, including printer cartridges, electronics and other office equipment, so ensure staff know what can be recycled and where recyclable items should be put, rather than all going in general waste.

4. Energy consumption

This is another one where it benefits the environment but also your bottom line. Consider options such as automatic lighting which goes off when there is no motion in the room (rather than relying on staff to switch off lights), solar energy panels, replacing ordinary light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. Make sure computers are switched off rather than on standby when not in use.

5. Fuel emissions

When reviewing your company vehicle arrangements, consider whether electric or hybrid vehicles might meet your needs rather than automatically going for a replacement of what you already have. There are many more charging points than there used to be, and depending on what your vehicles are used for, energy-efficient alternatives might work for you.

Have a policy of lift-sharing when travelling in company vehicles, or being as efficient with journeys as possible to reduce fuel. This obviously reduces costs for you as well as emissions for the environment. Although incentivising lift-sharing for commuters to your place of work, or a cycle to work scheme won’t directly benefit your business in the same way, these are easy and cheap ways to reduce the environmental impact of your business by getting employees to reduce the impact of their commute.

Reducing your environmental impact doesn’t have to cost a lot, and indeed can save you significant sums when it comes to consumption, so there is both a- responsible business’ and commercial benefit to thinking about environmental factors in your business.

If you’d like further advice on how to reduce the impact your business is having on the environment, do get in touch.