In a nutshell, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is considering how you take care of the people and communities you interact with and ensuring that your company’s activities are not adversely affecting the environment. The signing of the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015 brought public awareness to the threat of climate change and interest has only grown since.
Customers and investors judging companies on their ethical and sustainable credentials poses a new challenge and an opportunity for businesses. CSR concerns are increasingly central to the way companies work, with more than 90% of the world’s top 250 companies now producing an annual report on CSR according to KPMG. In Britain, almost two-thirds of companies are investing in CSR programmes research by NatWest shows, with 64% of midsized businesses having committed to ethical behaviour through CSR policy.
So how can businesses become more sustainable?
Business innovation expert and author Erica Wolfe-Murray says: “Companies can apply similar steps to address sustainability as they would normally take to protect profits. The first step has to be an audit, looking at internal systems before reviewing external supply. Heating, power generation and water supply are all key areas.” Energy and waste are substantial contributors to an organisation’s carbon footprint. Here we explain the most impactful measures companies can take to tackle these.
In the UK’s attempts to switch to cleaner energy, a milestone was hit this summer when for the first time low-carbon power generated more than half of all electricity in the UK. Fossil fuel hit a record low, while renewable generation was 30% higher than the same period (June-August) a year earlier, bolstered by strong growth from wind and hydroelectric power. Renewables are now a mainstream and growing part of the global energy mix. Corporations are responsible for 60% of global energy consumption and the buying-power of businesses is central to the low-carbon transition. As prices of renewables fall and capacity grows, CDP’s 2017 climate analysis shows that the number of companies with renewable energy consumption targets grew 23% in 2017, while the number with targets to generate their own clean power jumped by 36%.
Renewable source energy is typically from one or several of the following sources:
• Photovoltaic (PV/Solar)
• Biomass & Landfill Gas
• Hydro Power
Reporting zero carbon emissions from your purchased electricity
With renewable energy options, your organisation’s electricity supply is backed by certified renewable generation sources which all have a zero emissions rating. Available for both fixed and flexible price supply contracts, renewable options are backedby REGOs (Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origins) and/or GoOs (Guarantee of Origin). The REGO scheme is administered by Ofgem and is used to provide transparency to consumers about the proportion of electricity that suppliers source from renewable generation in the UK. GoOs are proof that the electricity has been generated by a renewable generation source from an EU country. Each megawatt-hour (MWh) is evidenced by a REGO or a GoO. The certificate proves a given share of energy was produced from renewable sources.
Minimising waste sent to landfill
Despite the rise of recycling and recent high-profile debates in Government and the media about plastic use, and a US study by Just Capital showing that across all demographics, environmental impact is one of the public’s top concerns when it comes to corporate behaviour, a report by The UK Waste Management Agency reveals 90% of businesses in the UK still do not have a recycling policy in place. Zero waste to landfill may seem a lofty goal given the lack of information publicly available to ensure 100% of waste is diverted, but there are a mass of products out there for recycling and reducing most waste types. Businesses working with trusted waste management partners, who improve recycling rates wherever possible and give professional advice, training and support should be able to achieve their zero waste to landfill goals relatively easily. Major, joined-up initiatives are making their way through government – and there are encouraging signs in the UK and Europe with the EU’s Circular Economy Package, announced last year, which aims to ensure all plastic packaging is recyclable by 2030.
Going net zero
Once you have calculated your carbon footprint and devised a plan to reduce this, is there anything else that can be done? Yes there is. Many companies have taken the position that they wish to become net zero businesses and even carbon negative. This involves “buying” carbon offsetting credits to the value of the carbon you are generating, in effect investing in green projects such as the planting of forests.
We have helped sustainability managers with:
• Procuring green energy
• Renewable energy assessments
• Advising on low or zero-carbon technologies
• Implementing sustainability strategies
• ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme) compliant energy audits and evidence packs
• Support with ISO 50001 and ISO14001 certification and implementation
• Creating waste strategies
• Staff and tenant engagement
• Process to improve recycling
• Monthly reporting to monitor progress
• Going carbon neutral
If we’re creating an Impact Report for you, click the button below to submit information on your CSR activity.