COP26 is firmly underway, with deals signed such as the promise to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, a plan to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent, to promote green technology, to stop financing foreign fossil fuels and lastly the agreement to phase out the use of coal.
You might be sitting on the sidelines of history, not realising what all of this and the climate crisis has to do with you. In order for the UK to reach net-zero by 2050, your business needs to decarbonise too. This may seem like a daunting task, and you may think ‘I’m just an SME’, but there are over six million SMEs across the UK, which accounts for 99 per cent of the private business sector, accounting for 53 per cent of the UK’s emissions.
The benefits of becoming sustainable
More than just ethically and legally ticking a box, sustainability is now financially beneficial. We know there is a lot of financial commitment, research and development that will go into decarbonising, but if you are a consumer-facing brand it is what the public wants, and if you are business-to-business, it is what your customers will need as they decarbonise to meet targets. According to a Kantar report, 70 per cent of consumers are at least worried about the environment and taking some action to reduce their impact. Within this, half of the consumers are taking many actions. This amount is growing incrementally year on year, and your business will be left out if you aren’t providing an environmentally and socially ethical option. As events like COP26 educate the public on what real change will look like, more must be done than merely greenwashing your consumers.
Where do I start?
We can’t provide all the solutions, here are some quick switch-ups that will kickstart your journey.
- An easy first step would be to switch to a renewable electric and green gas supplier or lobby your landlord to make the switch.
- Use 100 per cent sustainable printing so that your communication works hard for you but stands up for the planet. Our client Seacourt can help you here.
- Waste less. Research shows that the waste generated by a business is typically four per cent of its turnover. Waste equals cost in any business and reducing, re-using or eliminating what you currently throw away will bring financial returns. Start this by identifying the waste your business generates, how much, what type and where it goes. Look at each of these and think about how you can reduce, re-use or recycle. Try focusing on the biggest categories first, then work your way through the list. Involve your team to make the most of creative ideas for improvements and set targets.
- Ensure environmental sustainability is built into your supply chain. It’s likely that your suppliers have their own sustainability plans in place, or may need a nudge to set in place long-planned improvements. Outline your efforts and ask suppliers to share what they are doing to reduce their carbon emissions and be more sustainable.
- Deliver for good. Make sure that your businesses deliveries aren’t polluting city centres and are zero-emissions. Our client XeroE can help you here.
- For most businesses, even for those who embrace sustainability to their very core, there will be some carbon footprint. Having reduced what you can, the next step is for you to offset the remaining, unavoidable emissions. Carbon offsetting is an internationally recognised way to take responsibility for the impact you cannot yet reduce. By investing in a project that removes one tonne of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere you can offset one tonne of company emissions. Do your homework and choose a reputable scheme that can become a point of business pride in terms of the positive impact it delivers.
Siren’s mission is to ‘do the right thing’ for our people, clients, network and planet. Here are just some of the ways Siren is reducing our impact on the planet:
- We use 100 per cent renewable energy at Somerset House
- We have zero waste to landfill. Everything is either recycled or incinerated for energy generation
- Siren has a travel policy, encouraging the least carbon impacting mode of transport as the first option, within logistical means and reason
- Siren has signed the UN Global Compact focusing on goals set out to make this world better
- Siren is also a signatory of the Better Business Act, whose mission is to change UK law to make sure every single company in the UK, whether big or small, aligns the interests of their shareholders with those of wider society and the environment
- We are measuring, tracking and actively reducing our impact
- We support Surfers Against Sewage, the grassroots movement tackling plastic pollution and protecting the UK's coastlines for all to enjoy safely and sustainably
- Siren has applied to become a B Corp, the world’s moniker for a good business. In doing so our policies and practices serve to benefit our people, the environment, our clients and our community
We know there is much more we can do, and we are on a mission to reduce impact and do the right thing.
How can I shout about it?
In doing all this hard work, it is time to tell your customers about the work you are developing and implementing. Siren has over the last year helped launch an environmentally friendly cleaning product to consumers, announced a businesses Queen’s Award for sustainability, launched a showroom for sustainable design and construction, raised awareness for a coastal and waterway protection company in Europe, we are busy helping a zero-emission delivery get bigger clients, and lastly, we are assisting a small community sustainability store to raise awareness in the local area. In doing so we have developed significant muscles in sustainability marketing communications.
To hear more about what we can do for your business to shout about your initiatives, do reach out.