Small businesses have been tasked with leading the charge towards Net Zero by the UK government, being offered growth and opportunity in return.
The biggest contributions towards environmental pledges must come from the largest corporations and institutions but opportunities for small businesses to make a difference for themselves, their customers and the planet are still significant.
Our 5.5 million small businesses and self-employed workers have an important role to play in helping the nation to reach its targets and build towards a more sustainable future.
Whats does Net Zero mean?
Net Zero is the strategy set out by the government to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2050. Decarbonisation is the aim of the game, with global greenhouse gas emissions threatening the very existence of life as we know it.
The government has laid out plans to tackle carbon emissions in key sectors, including energy, housing, transport and finance. Each sector has a role to play, as does each organisation.
Countries around the world have signed up to a net-zero coalition, including many of the biggest polluters like China, the USA and the EU. It’s truly a global effort which is what is needed to protect the planet from climate change.
How this helps small businesses?
Net Zero will hopefully bring about positive changes for the planet but small businesses are likely to benefit themselves while they’re contributing to the efforts. Here’s why:
Cost savings through energy efficiency
Limiting carbon emissions relies mostly on reducing energy consumption, reusing and recycling waste, and saving water and other finite resources. All of these can cut costs for businesses and help to increase profitability.
Measures like energy-efficient lighting, smart heating, modern insulation and equipment upgrades can all reduce the amount of energy needed for operations and thus reduce emissions and costs at the same time.
For example, retail businesses can benefit from lower supply chain prices and energy bills – a boon when operational expenses like shop insurance aren’t going anywhere any time soon – and these savings can also potentially be passed onto customers.
Access to funding and incentives
The government continues to release incentives to encourage the uptake of sustainable practices around society. For small businesses, green business grants have been available to help to upgrade business premises, equipment and vehicles in line with government targets.
It’s certainly worth business owners keeping an eye out for new incentives and funding because they reduce the cost of transitioning to more sustainable approaches, which may also save money down the line.
Enhanced brand reputation and customer loyalty
Aligning with sustainable ambitions is a great way for SMEs to attract and retain customers. Consumers are more often going out of their way to find eco-friendly products and sustainably focused suppliers, which is an increasingly lucrative market.
Public image is so important in the digital age and supporting green initiatives is a sensible approach for any business. How can your small business contribute to Net Zero and benefit in return?