7 Ways Companies Can Reduce Their Environmental Impact

In our modern day and age companies and businesses must be environmentally conscious. As climate change has worsened to extremes—such as our global temperature reaching an all-time high of 1.5 degrees Celsius, any companies not acting with our environment in mind are widely deemed socially irresponsible and penalised accordingly.

This jeopardises many of a company’s avenues for growth, such as potential partnerships with investors, sustainable innovation, cost savings, brand value and reputation. In line with the worsening climactic status, increased legislation and regulations are being mandated in different countries in order to mitigate major losses in specific areas. The most recent example of this is the new law officialized 2nd April that made smaller builds compliant for Biodiversity Net Gain alongside major builds, allowing harmful development to continue while resulting in a positive environmental impact.

What is an Environmental Impact?

Majorities of human activity leave an impact on the environment and usually not a positive one. Traditional models and systems of human activity have continuously harmed the environment, most notably by knocking down trees to make way for buildings, and have fed our economies for years without appropriate consideration of its climactic repercussions. Now, left with a shockingly degraded environment, traditional models must be re-thought into innovative sustainable designs. This allows companies’ work to continue, and their impact to still be made, but in a way that overall benefits ecosystems instead of destructing.

Why Companies Should Reduce Their Environmental Impact

Companies should consider the impact they leave on the environment as this is measurable, recordable data that is typically readily available for public viewing. When deemed an environmentally harmful company, it can be quick for people to talk about it, sometimes ruining a brand’s value and image in the process. Compensating afterwards with quick green solutions may not be enough to make up for the damage lost, hence companies should reduce their impact with solid, permanent sustainability solutions.

These can be more cost-effective than the outdated models, such as the switchover to renewable energy—solar panels, for example, are fantastic value as self-reliant, energy-efficient sources that sustain themselves and last as long as you need them.

Carbon Footprint

A company’s carbon footprint is the total measure of its contribution towards greenhouse gases over a given period. This is a key way of understanding how different activities contribute towards climate change and employing the appropriate measures. They are measured, typically, in CO2 equivalents, such as metric tons of CO2 equivalent—tCO2e. This is critical for us to set and achieve global climate goals.

7 ways that companies can reduce their environmental impact

1. Switch to renewable energy sources

Switching to renewable energy sources means we are not draining the planet’s limited resources of coal, oil and natural gas which not only will run out and leave us resourceless in many areas, but also heat up the atmosphere when burned for energy. The global temperature is at an all-time high of 1.5 degrees Celsius, and these swaps are more important than ever. 

A focus on energy efficiency is highly beneficial, such as adopting wind and solar energy for company operations, utilising hydropower (using dam or diversion power), and harnessing the bioenergy that can be generated from waste products instead of contributing to permanent landfills. By adopting these practices, companies can comply with the increasing regulated sustainability demands and enhance their reputation by demonstrating a strong corporate responsibility. 

A windfarm at sunrise

2. Have clear methods of measuring impact

Companies must measure their environmental impact in order to discern if their operations are harmful, and if so how they will counter this and make up for the damage they are doing.

This includes standardised frameworks, like The Greenhouse Gas Protocol which manages and measures greenhouse gas emissions, or thorough reporting accounts, like the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting framework which guides companies in environmental accountability.

Carbon accounting is becoming more and more popular for companies in the UK; a trend underscoring the necessity for corporate responsibility, benefiting small and medium-sized businesses as well as the conglomerate leaders. It’s a method of measurement to record their emissions with transparency, be responsible, and publicly share emission mitigations and green targets. 

3. Encourage a culture of sustainability

A company thrives upon its culture, and promoting a culture of sustainability fosters a community that overall can make a great contribution towards climate change. For example, a company could incentivise remote working resulting in reduced power consumption, educate on environmental impacts and issues, or encourage less energy use, energy conservation, proactive waste management or green travel. 

This can overall enhance the company’s success, as employees can proudly align their workplace with their identity and their company’s ethos with their ethos, resulting in hard-working, dedicated employees who are keen to strive in the light of their diligent company. 

4. Align all stakeholders

If a company makes countless environmental efforts, restructures entire departments and counteracts their environmental impacts, only to then gain investment from a negligent, environmentally harmful company, all of their efforts can be wasted. 

Our rapid, ubiquitous information-sharing society means that brand reputation is crucial, and any misalignment can be detrimental to a company’s image. A company must ensure that even if their efforts are purely green, their investors, supply chain partners, ventures and any types of stakeholders must carry the green value in their image and practises. This ensures that company operations, even when extended across fields, maintain the correct environmental ethos and that no efforts are wasted. 

5. Hire an environmental director

As soon as a company is able to, it is a fantastic resource to hire a sustainability or environmental director. This means that a company’s environmental impact will be meticulously measured, monitored and managed by a specific individual, or ideally a set of individuals, to better hit targets.

This is increasingly important for larger organisations that have multifaceted, nuanced orders of operations and must consider new regulations applicable to specific company avenues. 

Experienced sustainability directors can offer fantastic value for companies by transforming orders of business and making powerful company contributions to the environment. As opposed to sporadic green projects and goals, this streamlined route is a win-win for climate change mitigation, operational proficiency, brand image and company success—

6. Create transparent environmental targets

Companies must create and maintain environmental targets so that any parties associated with the company, such as their own customers, can stay updated with how the company is tackling their emissions. It is a social responsibility not only to internally create sustainability initiatives to meet targets, but keep the public updated.

When successful, this is also fantastic press for a company by shining itself in a positive light. The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), for example, has helped more than 4,000 businesses venture into dedicated climate action projects that help curb their own emissions and redirect their environmental footprint.

7. Invest in carbon offsetting

Last but not least, companies can invest in carbon offsetting, for a quick, sure-fire way to ensure all carbon emissions have been compensated with external projects. Carbon offsetting offers a unique flexibility for companies to choose projects globally, to counteract specific impacts or other strategic alignments. It can be more cost-effective than direct emission reductions, encouraging a positive impact on your business.

The total measure of carbon footprint can be directly offset with one or multiple projects, allowing the harmful operations to continue as their impact is carefully measured and made up for. This reduces their overall carbon footprint and enhances their corporate image of sustainability, as well as allows organisations to meet ambitious climate goals. 

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