We are constantly being told that to save the planet, we should be environmentally friendly in our homes and at work. But what does that actually mean?
Simply, it means assessing the impact actions from your company are having upon the environment. These impacts include the type of materials used in manufacturing, how discarded products are disposed of, using products made from recycled materials and increasing efficiencies on energy usage, reducing your consumption of natural resources.
Implementing an environmental policy can bring additional costs into the business, but many initiatives with the highest impact to an organisation cost little to implement.
Benefits to your business
Cost savings from changes to work practices
Some of the largest savings are made by introducing simple energy efficiency measures to lower your business’ consumption of gas or electricity. There are a range of changes a business can make to lower usage of any fuel they use. Most companies concentrate on changing light bulbs, using timers on heating and cooling systems or even replacing desktop computers for laptops. Being energy efficient means less waste, lower usage and lower bills.
A higher PR value through enhanced brand reputation
A company that responds positively to environmental challenges not only has a good story to tell, but is likely to gain interest from potential customers. Being an early adopter of a new development can also pay dividends. For example, DHL uses electric vehicles in large cities around the globe, and now has plans to produce 10,000 street scooters each year to sell to interested third parties.
The ability to tender for more contracts
A part of many tendering processes these days involves understanding a supplier’s green credentials. Some customers demand a company has a valid environmental policy, is a certified green business, or has even an accreditation such as ISO 14000. Having these already in place produces a competitive advantage from the existing processes, and while the tendering process begins, it shows a solid commitment to your green objectives. Tighter regulations are sure to come, so planning these into your business now could also save you time later on.
Target additional customers and keep existing business
Many people look at a company’s green commitment when making a buying decision. It’s more common for consumers to want a company that has clear policies in place for recycling, which can extend from just bottles and paper. Hotels limit how often they change towels. Businesses reuse rainwater collected from their roofs. Both sides of paper are used when printing. Cups and mugs replace paper or plastic cups. Even simply changing your buying behaviour to purchase recycled products into your overall strategy will do. Large companies such as American Airlines and Coca Cola already have such strategies in place. Using alternatives cuts the waste destined for landfill.
Enhance your profit margins
Some consumers are willing to pay more for a product when they know the environmental impact is lower, as is the case with organic fruit and vegetables, which carry a premium. In fact, the Aldi supermarket chain is reducing the number of pesticides from its products. That change, which comes after other moves to “make [its] food safer”, offers the company a first move advantage in a very crowded marketplace and is sure to bring more consumers through its doors.
Employees value a company that cares for the environment
A survey by The Drum points out that while employees feel strongly about working for a company with strong ethical values, the majority of companies are not reflecting those attitudes and processes within their core values. Other surveys note that new employees are looking for strong environmental credentials from companies when searching for their next career, and that companies should be doing more for the environment.
Productivity could also improve. Research undertaken by the University of California suggests that companies adopting green practices have employees that are 16 percent more productive than average.
Introducing or improving your environmental credentials delivers substantial benefits to your business as a whole while reducing your reliance on natural resources. Being less dependent on using these resources could also offer a competitive advantage as the price of energy and natural raw materials increases.