Corporate social responsibility (CSR) should be on every business's agenda going into 2017. With global co2 emissions on the increase, it’s never been a more relevant time for to re-think your CSR strategy, in order to optimise operational sustainability whilst reducing impact. Going into 2017 with a healthy CSR strategy will give you the ability to forecast for greater carbon offset optimisation, whilst pinpointing an annual date for review of your business's impact and CSR strategy.
Ways in which your business can pave a greater strategy into operating as a more environmentally sustainable company going into 2017.
Outlining goals and objectives
Before executing a new CSR strategy, it’s important to understand your business's logistics, operational environment, and consumption impact. With this knowledge, you will be able to review your business's current situation, allowing you to take an informed approach when outlining your CSR strategy outcomes. Once researched and outlined, you will be able to execute a CSR strategy to best meet your resource, with attainable goals.
Below are three conventional business factors which can be optimised in order to reduce environmental impact:
- Waste production - Business waste produce as a result of operation
- Resource consumption - Business resources needed in order to operate
- Operational Efficiency - Operational goods used as part of business operation.
By approaching your CSR strategy optimisation upon these three areas of your business, you will be able to identify possible initiatives within each section to meet your informed goals.
Whether your business contributes to landfill or carbon offsets, a waste free business doesn't exist.
No operational consumption can occur without some form of waste being offset. Therefore, it is vital that businesses improve their waste management process in order to reduce environmental impact.
End-of-life recycling can really strengthen a business’s CSR strategy - but did you know it’s also the law to properly rid of confidential waste? Anything containing ‘sensitive information’, such as invoices, customer receipts, business financials, insurance policies, contracts or documents containing PIN numbers or passwords, can’t just be ripped up or scrunched into a paper ball and thrown in the bin.
“At the very least, waste should be shredded - although be warned that most bog standard office machines cut in vertical strips, which could be reassembled with a bit of patience,” said Lloyd Williams, founder and chairman at shredding and data destruction company Shredall. “For higher security, invest in one which ‘cross cuts’ your documents, minimising the chances of reconstruction. It’s also advisable to shred on a regular basis; doing so once or twice a month will not only help you keep organised but may free up valuable office or storage space.
“Professional shredding companies can also help with any CSR strategies your business may have by recycling all of your paper waste. Bi-produced paper material can be turned into a range of tissue related products.”
Ensuring your business's offset waste is recycled is a perfect initiative to operating as a more environmentally aware (but less environmentally impacting) business. Playing a greater part in recycling waste can not only reduce landfill contribution, but it can influence a routine recycling norm into an employee’s everyday life. This idea not only reduces offsets directly correlated with the business, but the grander scheme of automating recycling can play a key asset to helping society become more responsible with their waste.
But sometimes, it can be difficult to differentiate what can and can’t be shredded, when waste isn’t simply “bin worthy”.
Waste electrical and electronic equipment items can be shredded - and sometimes recycled too - as well as many other products including ID cards, uniforms and X-rays. Hard drives and magnetic media need to go through an additional process before they are destroyed, in order to properly wipe any information they have on them. This process is known as degaussing, and consists of passing the item through a powerful magnetic field, which rearranges the magnetic particles, rendering it it completely unusable.
One of the main conventional resources a large majority of businesses will depend on, is electricity. Whether this is to power computers, lighting, or even cars, non renewable electrical consumption will have a negative effect upon our global environment.
So how can we source electricity more responsibility?
Installing a solar PV system can make a measurable and meaningful contribution towards your business’ CSR carbon reduction targets which may be one of the first things that springs to mind when it comes to ‘going green’.
By choosing solar you can reduce your carbon footprint and lessen the negative impact that your business has on the environment. Depending on the type of business, you could reduce your carbon emissions significantly by self-generating up to 100% of the electricity you use on-site. With consumer spending behaviour ever increasing towards environmentally-conscious brands, solar PV is an attractive solution to drive competitiveness within your own business.
Some businesses may be applicable to have a fully maintained system installed at zero cost via a power purchase agreement (PPA). In this scenario, an investment company would fund and own the system and sell the green energy back to you at a fixed rate that is linked to inflation better than the current energy market for up to 30 years.
Environmentally friendly web hosting
With web services now contributing carbon offsets similar to that of aviation, the rise of cloud computing is going to be a growing concern in terms it’s environmental impact. This means that businesses who operate heavily through web services should consider reducing their impact through greener web hosting.
Green web hosting is usually more expensive than non renewably powered web hosting services. To counterbalance the additional cost of green web hosting, you can use this as part of your marketing strategy to inform clients and customers of your environmental awareness and reduced carbon impact by supporting your business. As this a niche operational area to be optimising for your CSR strategy, it’s more than likely market competitors wouldn’t have considered environmentally friendly web hosting, making it a great USP to be shouting about to get your business standing out from the crowd.
Refining the way your business operates internally will be a great way of managing your effect on the global environment. More than likely, there will be loads of opportunities to refine a more efficient operational process in order to reduce resource consumption.
Energy efficient lighting
Sometimes, it is the little things that can make big difference. Swapping all of your old incandescent and halogen bulbs to their modern LED equivalents can save you up to 90% on your annual lighting bill, and what’s more, most commercial LEDs do not need to be replaced for at least 15 years.
Paul Campbell, founder of Greenvision Energy, a Nottingham-based firm which provides homeowners, landlords/letting agents and businesses with everything they need to reduce their energy bills, energy usage and carbon footprint, said: “Since around 40% of the energy consumed in buildings is used for lighting, it’s extremely important that bulbs are as efficient as possible in order to minimise energy bills. Even though they use far less electricity, LEDs bulbs can still emit the same level of brightness as a standard bulb using far less wattage. For example, a standard 4W LED bulb would easily achieve the same brightness as a 50W halogen bulb.
Responsibly source office materials
Using responsibly sourced materials for your office flooring can be a great means of improving your operational sustainability. Aidan Bell, director of sustainable landscaping and construction materials supplier EnviroBuild, encourages companies to consider their CSR aims when designing their office space:
“By choosing to deck-out a new office space with recycled and reclaimed materials, such as WPC flooring and cladding, reclaimed stone or seating made from recycled tyres, businesses can add ‘environmentally-conscious’ into their ethos from the start and begin to offset their use of electricity and paper.”
“Small changes can make all of the difference. Even if you’re not due to update the infrastructure of your office, you can make environmentally-conscious product choices that will offset the environmental impact of the electricity is used in businesses every day.”
Lots of people drive their cars to work out of convenience over necessity. Therefore, convincing people to potentially either walk, run, or cycle to work will improve upon the carbon offsets associated with workplace travel.
Introducing cycle to work scheme’s can serve as a great incentive for people to start commuting via bike. Offering contributions towards an employee’s cycling gear will be great for both environmental impact, personal health, and employee well being. Government incentives encourage this form of transport over vehicle travel, as such transport has both environmental and health benefits.
How can I do it?
Your CSR strategy should be beneficial to society and our global environment, but it also has to be realistic in order to improve your business development. Setting uninformed goals and objectives will be more than likely to set unachievable goals for your businesses strategy, making CSR more of a business chore than a potential target to work towards.
Reducing environmental impact with your strategy will allow your business to operate more and more efficiently, which can save you resource, money, and can even create new marketing opportunities for your business to shout out about. The most important consideration for your strategy, is that the outcomes you work towards can realistically be achieved, in order to prospect for sustainable yearly CSR improvements.
Written by Jordan Mawbey, Marketing Manager at Evo Energy.