Everything we consume is associated with a long chain of environmentally impactful waste. In order to make the materials we use and the objects we consume, the environment pays a hidden cost across all levels of manufacturing. That’s why it is essential to talk about enablers of consumption, business.
Whether it’s food, retail, auto, or technology — being the platforms through which we conduct the exchange of goods, businesses of every kind contribute to this chain of environmental waste. Most aspects of the business process could be tweaked and improved to offer cleaner and greener options, so what can businesses do to lower their environmental waste?
Why go green?
Reducing unnecessary waste can trim operating costs for business and improve the workplace environment. Every business big or small can reduce their waste by taking advantage of sustainable methods which can prevent excessive waste of natural resources. For example, using green cleaning supplies, recycling, composting, and providing reusable kitchen supplies.
Though the larger value of going green is obviously maintaining a healthy environment, going green can also be a good way to cut costs. According to the Financial Times, all Fortune 500 companies together saved $3.7 billion through energy efficiency initiatives in 2016.
A few easy steps
Simple as it sounds, turning off lights in vacant office is an easy way to save energy. If you want to take a step further, though replacing traditional light bulbs with alternative energy efficient bulbs can cut energy costs by up to 75%. And for the truly committed, going as far as installing motion sensors for your business could help you spend energy more efficiently without having to always keep it in mind.
Another big waste for business is printing paper. On average businesses waste some 10,000 sheets of paper per employee per year. There often is a pile for a paper print that no one claims. Prioritising digital communication could cut a large dent in paper use, and going fully paperless business would save some $480 per employee per year.
To go on the printing theme — refilling ink cartridges is the other easy cost saving instead of throwing cartridges and replacing it. The price of refilling ink cartridges is about $8-10 while buying a new cartridge costs $20-100 depending on the printer. After the appropriate amount of use, of course consider recycling.
Another route is to look into transport options. If you’re big business or corporate company, offering your workers with a free or subsidized bus pass and incentivizing a credit system for people who bike to work instead of drive can go far. If your firm is big enough to offer company cars, using hybrid models can save energy and lower carbon emissions. Depending on your business model, these greenifying aspects of your business could also be a part of your brand image, which could help you connect to a motivated customer base and widen support for your business.
The Policy Front
For all that businesses can do by changing operational practices, governments also have a vital role to play in making business green by either incentivizing green practices, or enforcing standards.
For instance, governments could provide credits for using solar and renewable energy. Promoting the use of solar not only allows businesses to be energy efficient, but they can also sell their energy in their surrounding area.
In the enforcement route, governments could create emission allowances for local business, which can lower carbon emissions from a grassroots level. This would require businesses to get permits for carbon emissions, and potentially creating emissions caps.
Of course, government action isn’t limited to credits for renewable energy use or emissions caps, but the point is that the state is in a position to encourage or even force businesses to adopt greener practices
Whatever the method, it is urgent that every business act. Not only can they take leadership to protect the environment and affect change, they also stand to benefit by cutting costs and promoting their brand image in the process.