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Can businesses be successful and at the same time minimise their impact on the environment?

Business success and sustainable business practice goes hand-in-hand.

According to an Accenture survey, 78% of managing directors see sustainability as an opportunity to grow their business.

Implementing resource efficiency in energy, waste, water, travel and procurement can save the business money and demonstrate how a business is committed to improving its environmental impacts.

Every business is different and hence their social and environmental impacts will differ.

One of the best ways to understand how sustainability adds to business value is to look at examples of good practice. Dunlop Systems and Components, who recently moved into a newly-built Planet Mark certified factory, explained:

Environmental commitments to reduce all forms of impact are now benefitting the business, our customers, shareholders and the local community. By occupying a modern environmentally friendly factory, it not only provides increased profitability now, but reduces exposure to increased utility bills in the future.”

Last year by reducing our carbon by 15% we saved £105,000

Energy prices have been increasing and will continue to do so and with that the operational costs of running a business will go up.

Construction group, Bowmer and Kirkland, saved £180,000 by reducing their environmental impacts and in a webinar held with Planet First, GMI explained how they reduced their energy bills by 50% and saved £70,000 through sustainability measures.

When it comes to measuring success, Exterion Media, one of the UK’s leading outdoor advertising companies, added,

Rather than asking if a business can be successful and improve its environmental impacts, we have asked how we drive better practices that achieve our environmental and profit targets, efficiencies that deliver both. Last year by reducing our carbon by 15% we saved £105,000.”

Sustainability helps to win new customers and retain old ones

The demands to address environmental impacts are being driven by UK government and EU legislation. All businesses are affected either directly or indirectly, through their customers and supply chain. Sustainability helps to win new customers and retain old ones. It can be a unique selling point and place your business in a strong position to go for new sales pitches or complete prequalification questionnaires (PQQs) and many government, local government and large organisations require evidence of understanding and managing environmental impacts.

Climate change and sustainability are definitely on the agenda, and for businesses this is definitely good news.

The provision of sustainability services is a growing area in itself and helps other businesses to green their procurement. Examples include GreenZone Cleaning& Support Services, Bywaters recycling services, Harrow Green providing business relocation services and Wiles Greenworld, a green office supplies company.

All of the business benefits that spring from sustainability and reduce environmental impacts can be measured through profit, money saving, reputation and employee contribution and satisfaction. With the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference approaching at the end of the year, climate change and sustainability are definitely on the agenda, and for businesses this is definitely good news.

Steve is CEO of Planet First, a sustainability consultancy that works in partnership with The Eden Project to deliver The Planet Mark certification. This is a people-focused programme that helps accelerate sustainability in organisations, particularly in SMEs, across sectors.

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