Why should SMEs embrace sustainability plans?
There is a magnitude of environmental and financial benefits of companies embedding Company Sustainability Plans within their business operations. From contributing to CO2 targets enshrined in the Climate Change Act 2008, to securing compliance with sustainability accreditations and reducing energy and waste expenditure; it pays to be green.
Companies that go beyond basic legal compliance are most likely to reap significant financial rewards, with 66% of global consumers willing to pay for more sustainable brands,1 while 86% of millennials believe that the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just financial performance.2
SMEs across the United Kingdom are taking leadership in helping to reduce national CO2 emissions while utilising opportunities to grow their business. A Company Sustainability Plan can play a key role in achieving these ambitions.
Five benefits of introducing a Company Sustainability Plan
- Boost the bank balance
Sustainability and corporate objectives go hand-in-hand: reducing wastage to increase productivity. By monitoring environmental impacts companies can streamline their procedures in relation to energy management, waste and recycling, travel and procurement, whilst simultaneously reducing costs and CO2 emissions. For example, in 2016, holders of the sustainability certification, The Planet Mark™, cut their average electricity costs by 14% per employee3through the uptake of resource efficiency initiatives.
- Stand out from the crowd
Forward-thinking companies who value Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are enhancing sustainability as a way to differentiate themselves from competitors and align better environmental performance with business goals. SMEs and multinationals alike benefit from attracting new customers and boosting brand image through highlighting green credentials.
- Keep one step ahead of the law
Environmental legislation impacting energy compliance, CO2 emissions and sustainability reporting is constantly evolving and becoming more complex. With Brexit on the horizon, the upcoming replacement of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), the start of ESOS Phase 2 and changes to ISO 14001, embedding a strategic approach towards sustainability becomes a crucial tool to avoid penalties and disadvantages associated with non-compliance.
- Identify new opportunities
Committing to sustainability is a proven way of harnessing new commercial opportunities while driving innovation. For instance, companies committing to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals can contribute to $12 trillion4 worth of opportunities in sectors including affordable housing, the circular economy and low-carbon healthcare.
- Get the best out of your inner green team
Understanding that a company is committed to sustainability improves employee satisfaction and retention, while enabling environmental pledges to be effectively communicated to customers and stakeholders. The Carbon Trust estimates that by investing 1-2% of an organisation’s total annual utility bill to create a successful sustainability behaviour change programme, companies can secure savings of up to 10% in costs.5
Getting started with a five-stage approach
While introducing a Company Sustainability Plan can appear a challenging task, the following 5-stage approach is a trusted way to help secure quantifiable reductions in energy consumption, costs and CO2 emissions:
- Engagement and Review
Liaise with your senior management and key personnel to review current policies and procedures in place and identify areas of improvement and progressive sustainability goals.
Undertake a full audit across all areas of energy, water, waste, travel and procurement to produce detailed consumption rates and benchmarks.
- Management Plan
Devise a series of policies and targets for each environmental impact based on your key objectives and findings.
- Action Plan
Clearly define the procedures you will implement throughout the company, including specific actions, responsibilities and timeframes.
- Monitoring and Reporting
Analyse the progress of initiatives against each target and benchmark. Produce regular reports on development, barriers to progress and success of consumption, costs and CO2 reductions.
For more details on Company Sustainability Plans, please contact David Carlyon, Sustainability Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 8835 3535.
 United Nations Development Programme, ‘More Than Philanthropy: SDGs are a $12 Trillion Opportunity for the Private Sector‘
 Carbon Trust, ‘Low Carbon Behaviour Change: The £100 Million Opportunity