Sustainability in the workplace is about being a responsible business and is often defined as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.
It makes sense to run your business in a lasting and responsible way, position it to take advantage of opportunities, respond to challenges and leave behind a positive legacy. By adapting and planning ahead your business should be in a better position than those who simply respond to legislation and pressure from clients, shareholders or investors.
Our guide will help you discover the benefits of sustainability, create an action plan and policy tailored for your business and show you where to go for guidance and support.
Benefits of being a sustainable business
There are sound business reasons for adopting sustainable business practices:
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- Economic – drive down costs through operational efficiencies and avoid disruptions and delays to ensure the business keeps running
- Tap into a growing market - the UK’s low carbon sector is estimated to be worth £120 billion in annual sales and, according to a report from the Carbon Trust, current exports of £12 billion could rise to £30 billion by 2020
- Be prepared for contract tendering - all Government departments and many large organisations require their suppliers to `green’ their operations so get ahead of the game to improve your chances of winning contracts
- Reputation – you can help build your brand by promoting your responsible business and `green’ credentials
- Staff engagement and retention - it is widely accepted that employees who are engaged in sustainability and community support programmes show more commitment to the organisation through `discretionary effort’ in their work
The long term success of your business may depend on your ability to cope with a changing environment and how effectively you have planned for when things go wrong.
Here are some key issues to consider and plan for:
- What are the short and long term risks for resources (e.g. energy, fuel and water) and raw materials?
- Where are the stresses, strains and dependencies within your operations?
- How secure is your supply chain? Check your exposure to operational or supply failures.
- Do you comply with current regulations and legislation (e.g. waste management, use of hazardous materials and pollution of air, water and land)?
- Are you aware of future legislation (include EU legislation or any country you are exporting to)?
- Horizon scan for technological advances that could impact your business (e.g. 3D printing and it’s potential in manufacturing)
- How will severe weather impact staff, clients, premises, deliveries and your supply chain?
- Have you established or updated a `disaster recovery’ plan?
Like sustainability it’s easy to dismiss business resilience as a `nice to have’ but research suggests that 85% of organisations have experienced at least one supply chain incident in 12 months and half of all businesses experiencing a disaster, with no effective recovery plans in place, will go on to fail within a 12 month period. Back to top
The circular economy
Many businesses still run a ‘take, make, dispose’ model which relies on easily accessible resources and energy. That model will become increasingly challenging to operate in as resources raw materials become scarce and their costs become prohibitive. Adopting Circular Economy Principles – also referred to as `cradle to cradle’ – can help to reduce costs, risks and threats to your supply chain.
The first step is to consider how a product will be disposed of when you design it. Where possible the product is designed in such a way that it can be disassembled and components recovered, recycled and reused. This will help to reduce waste going to landfill or being sent overseas for disposal. Also you will be helping to secure the supply of rare/raw materials for the future and guard against price volatility.
Taking this new approach gives you the opportunity to be creative and collaborate with other businesses or your supply chain. It’s also worth investigating what other businesses have achieved – one good source of case studies is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation website.Back to top
Tools to help you
There are many benefits to becoming a more sustainable business and that’s why we have developed a free sustainability planning tool and policy guide to help get you started.
Build your sustainability action plan
The Sustainability Planning Tool will help you create your own action plan by setting goals, actions and targets. You can use the action plan to drive activity and change within your business. Also to get `buy-in’ from colleagues. The tool is free to anyone – you do not have to be a Lloyds Bank client.
Create a sustainability policy
Use our guide and templates to create a sustainability policy that you can use to tender for contracts that require sustainability or environmental policies. Also showcase your sustainability commitments to clients, shareholders, investors and supply chain by adding the policy to your website and promotional material. Back to top
These links will take you through to organisations that can help you with your sustainability plans and provide guidance including funding schemes and meeting legislative requirements.
Energy Saving Trust
The Energy Saving Trust are a non-profit organisation helping businesses to reduce CO2 emissions through energy efficiency, transport management and technology.
The Environment Agency provides guidance on environmental law and protecting the environment. They also provide flooding and severe weather information. Businesses can sign up for flood alert warnings.
Forbury Investment Network
Forbury Investment Network helps to bring together investors and organisations looking to develop new environmental technologies and services.
Lex Autolease is the UK's largest fleet leasing company. Their Green Fleet programme provides guidance on reducing vehicle carbon emissions focusing on the three components of transport: vehicle, driver and journey. You also have the opportunity to trial some `greener’ vehicles.
University of Exeter 'One Planet' MBA
The One Planet MBA is run by the University of Exeter Business School. The programme is designed for business leaders with a background in sustainability but who want to further develop their knowledge and challenge current business models.
National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP)
NISP aims to help businesses make use of spare resources by linking businesses who can mutually benefit from it. This can generate new income streams for a business as well as reducing waste and the cost of disposing of it.Back to top