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Australia has recently joined other countries worldwide in a commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. With consumers and governments alike now looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, how can your business do its part? What is sustainability in business, and how does it tie into the idea of corporate social responsibility? We’ll explore these questions below with a closer look at how to make your business more sustainable.
What is sustainability in business?
Sustainability in business refers to finding ways to reduce negative impact on society and the environment. A green or sustainable business aims to have a positive impact instead. There are numerous sustainable actions to take, from using recycled materials throughout the manufacturing process to sourcing renewable energy sources during production. The aim is to minimise waste and greenhouse gas emissions while giving back to the community.
Why is business sustainability important?
From the smallest start-ups to the largest corporations, an increasing number of companies are now following sustainable business practices. This not only helps protect our environment for future generations, but it’s also good for business growth.
Today’s consumers want to spend their money on sustainable businesses. According to a 2018 study released by HP and Planet Ark, over 90% of Australians state that they have concerns about sustainability. With 85% of the population living along the coastline, Australians are particularly concerned by the impact of plastic waste in the oceans. This same survey shows that 80% of consumers hold businesses responsible for environmental issues, and they are more likely to buy from brands that follow sustainable business practices.
Sustainable business practices
Sustainability is good for the planet and your bottom line, so how can you get started? Here are six simple ways to start.
1. Go paperless.
Many businesses have already phased out paper in favour of electronic documents. Online invoices and receipts are not only more efficient, but they’re also more secure. You’ll be left with more storage space and less chance of important files going missing.
2. Recycle old tech products.
Australians generate over 140,000 tonnes of electronic waste each year. Don’t throw those old computer parts away to languish in a landfill leaking harmful chemicals like cadmium and lead. Most used electronics can now be recycled. Check Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You site to find local initiatives. They’ll often pick up used televisions, laptops, mobile phones, and cables to responsibly clear away clutter.
3. Source greener materials.
If your business manufactures physical products, it’s time to get in touch with your suppliers to source more eco-friendly, renewable materials. Part of corporate social responsibility is also using fair trade suppliers committed to paying their workers a liveable wage.
4. Use sustainable shipping.
Like manufacturing, shipping is another area to clean up in your quest to make your business more sustainable. Rather than arranging multiple deliveries as products become available, combine multiple products in a single package to reduce emissions. Give customers incentive for consolidated orders with discounts. You can also use biodegradable packing materials like starch-based peanuts, recycled cardboard, and recycled mailing pouches.
5. Give back to the environment.
Today’s sustainable business practices also involve supporting charities doing good work. Plant trees for each product sold, donate a percentage of each sale to charity, or set up fundraisers to promote local green initiatives.
6. Create a sustainable space.
If you have a brick-and-mortar office or retail location, there are plentiful ways to make it more sustainable. Purchase energy efficient appliances, LED lamps, and use insulation to cut heating and cooling bills. Use natural lighting and living plants to green your space and improve air quality. Of course, the most sustainable office will be remote. Eliminate emissions-causing commutes by giving employees to work from home where possible.
Monitor your performance
Finally, you can take stock of how you’re doing with the GoCardless greenhouse gas calculator for SMEs. Click here to calculate your emissions and find new ways to cut down on your environmental impact. With a few simple changes to your business processes and a commitment to eliminating waste, you can give business sustainability a boost.
We can help
GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.