Corporate social responsibility and energy efficiency

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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a form of self-regulation that’s an internal organisational policy. It helps your business commit to local, national, or international causes such as donations to charity or supporting ethical trading practices.

Another major focus is the environment.

Environmental CSR is the concerted efforts of businesses across the world to reduce their impact on the world around us. And you can be a part of the movement.

In this feature, we explore what your company can do to push for a greener future.

What are the environmental responsibilities of your business?

While other elements of CSR focus on getting involved in charities and supporting the wider community, the environmental aspect looks at your business’ use of:

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Waste management
  • Carbon emissions.

You can also factor your eco-friendly initiatives, such as recycling policies, a cycle to work scheme, or car share policy.

This helps the world around you, but it also goes towards safeguarding your company for the future.

As The Guardian put it in 2016 – money is no longer a dirty word in sustainability: “Businesses should heed new research that shows customers expect them to make money while doing something good for the world.”

It adds: “A 2015 report by consultant firm Pure Strategies which surveyed sustainability officers at 152 large companies, found that of the companies that had already implemented projects to create more sustainable products, such as by using recycled or non-toxic materials, 27% saw $5m or more in increased sales and 33% generated $5m or more in benefits from taking good care of their employees.”

The reality is a green CSR plan can reduce business risk, boost positive PR, and save businesses money. So it should be a major part of your core business plan, but there are a few steps to take before you can claim to be environmentally conscience.

How to reduce your environmental impact

For a start, there are some fundamental practices you may already have in place. These may include:

  • Turning off computers when staff leave for the day
  • Using energy saving light bulbs
  • Adopting a paperless office
  • Using double glazing to cut down on winter heating costs
  • Use environmentally friendly cleaning products in your workplace.

But what are some of the more innovative approaches you can take to really show the world you’re taking the environment seriously?

This can vary depending on your industry, products, and services, but common examples include making sure you source responsibly, such as with recyclable packaging—single use plastics are facing a backlash right now, for example:

  • Turning to local sources to support the economy and boost local trades
  • Reducing the amount of packaging you use—particularly with plastic.

Innovation is key as there are often startling ways in which you can reduce, for example, the amount of rubbish you produce. This may be as simple as removing certain bits of plastic from your products.

An example here is the Innocent smoothies drinks brand, which is part of the UK Plastics Pact and has laid out four key targets to aim for by 2025.

One of them is: “100% of plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable.”

A bold claim. Can your business aim for such heights? To do so, you’ll need to take the right steps.

How to carry out an environmental business review

You can facilitate environmental CSR by carrying out a business audit. This will help you to assess your business and its environmental performance, and help work out ways you can be more business energy efficient.

You can approach it in as many steps as you want, depending on the scale of your business, but a common three step approach goes as follows:

  1. Investigate the current situation of your procedures.
  2. Establish what you need to improve and how you’ll go about it.
  3. Carrying out your plan of action.

You can then, at a later date, review your progress to see what gains you’ve made.

It’s a learning process, but one that’s essential for the future of businesses and the planet. We only have one Earth, but there are four trillion plastic bags in use on an annual basis.

You can do your bit to ensure those figures drop exponentially.

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