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Five Ways to Make Your Small Business Greener

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The Low Carbon Eco-lnnovatory (LCEI) is a project part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) delivered by Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Liverpool and Lancaster University.

LCEI offers free assistance to help local companies develop new and improved goods, processes and services, through collaborative partnerships with university researchers, students and academic staff. The programme enables SMEs in Liverpool City Region to access world-leading expertise and facilities such as laboratories, workshops and libraries. In this article the Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory discusses how to make your small business greener.


 

Five Ways to Make Your Small Business Greener

Environmental concerns have never been higher on the agenda. For businesses, this means more and more customers expect the companies they buy from or do business with to show a commitment to being green.

Being ‘eco’ has become not just a fashionable marketing gimmick – it’s an essential element of a successful business. The consumer marketplace is demanding a shift to the green agenda and smart businesses are listening.

Making your small business greener can boost your reputation and CSR value, give you an edge over competitors, bring you more leads and save you money in a number of ways, from re-purposing waste to reducing energy bills. There’s also the ‘feel good’ factor of caring for the planet.

Time and money can be tight for SMEs. But it’s not something businesses can ignore. Climate change is happening and we all have a responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a healthier future.

Making your small business greener doesn’t have to cost a lot, or take up a lot of your precious time and energy. Building and running a business is hard enough.

But it can be confusing to know where to start – there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Whatever the nature and size of your business, there is a low carbon solution for you. Here’s five ways to make your small business greener…

 

#1 Check Your Energy…

This is an obvious place to start and one of the simplest and lowest cost ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

You might have an idea of what your biggest energy drains are, or you might be starting completely from scratch. Either way, knowing more about how you use energy in your business gives you the power to make positive changes.

A Smartmeter can be very useful in monitoring your energy usage over a sustained period to get an idea of usage trends and peak times.

Another super-simple first step is reviewing the heating and lighting systems in your business premises and replacing them with more efficient or low carbon alternatives, or upgrading the insulation or ventilation systems.

Specialist advice here is incredibly useful and doesn’t have to cost a lot. Search for local companies providing energy assessment services in your area, or check out free SME support from projects such as LCEI.

 

#2 Re-Think Waste…

Think again about your waste. We’re not just talking about recycling your office paper or general waste. Depending on the nature of your small business, there could be waste products from your operation that are costly to dispose of, that could be re-purposed or re-cycled in a low carbon way. There could be by-products that have a use you would never have thought of, or that could be harnessed and pumped back into the business.

A good example of this is biomass. Biomass boilers run on organic material, so depending on the nature of your business, you could use waste produced in your processes to power your boiler, making it a super-efficient and low carbon heating solution.

 

#3 Green Supply Chain…

Going green isn’t just about what happens inside your business, it’s also about those you do business with. Take a look at your supply chain and assess which companies are operating sustainably. Do they show a real commitment to being as green as possible? Aligning yourself with green suppliers shows your environmental drive and encourages suppliers to up their eco game.

Another effective way of greening your supply chain is local resources. You can reduce transport needs and potentially cut your carbon emissions by 20% by using local resources.

If your business relies on importing raw materials or transporting them across the country, try exploring if they could be sourced from a more local supplier, or research new or emerging alternatives that could be more sustainable.

 

#4 Low Carbon Tech…

Biomass heating and solar panels are examples of renewable tech that are relatively simple for companies to adopt.

Biomass systems run your heating and hot water just like your normal central heating, except the fuel is renewable animal or plant matter instead of gas or oil. Installing photovoltaic panels can have a big impact on your carbon emissions, although you may not see a ROI for a number of years.

However, as with all renewable energy tech, there is a cost involved in installation. A biomass boiler can cost between £10,000 and £20,000, while PV panels can set you back up to £8,000. However, for Biomass, you can offset some of the cost with the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, which pays eligible installations over 20 years depending on the amount of heat they produce.

Low carbon tech is not always a ‘quick-win’, but once you have recouped your outlay, you stand to save significantly for decades to come.

 

#5 Innovation…

The key to any business’s long term success is innovation. Just because something works today doesn’t mean it will work tomorrow. You have to keep improving; keep striving to stay competitive. This means stepping out of the day-to-day and encouraging new ideas.

Sustainability also needs innovation; new ways of looking at how you run your business and its impact on the environment. You can start the flow of new green ideas within your business simply by asking employees or customers for feedback.

You could explore new low carbon versions of your product, or a completely new to market product that helps reduce GHG emissions. You could try eco packaging or delivery methods. Give your teams the opportunity and freedom to get creative and you never know what could happen.

 

Low Carbon Eco Innovatory…

Whether you do it solely out of concern for the planet, for the ‘feel-good’ factor, PR value or because it makes good business sense, going green is a vital part of a modern business strategy.

Running a small business is all-consuming. You may feel there isn’t time to look seriously at your sustainability. However, ALL businesses have a part to play in creating our low carbon future and going ‘green’ could be simpler than you think.

Whatever your low carbon conundrums, LCEI can help. We’re ERDF-funded, and our goal is to promote low carbon research and innovation, and the adoption of low carbon technologies.

We support SMEs in the Liverpool City Region to develop innovative low carbon products, processes or services.

LCEI links eligible businesses with world-class university expertise, research and facilities that might not otherwise be available to SMEs. In most cases, support is FREE.

  • Got an idea for a low carbon product?
  • Want to find out your carbon footprint and how you can reduce it?
  • Want to explore how to re-use waste or make processes or production more environmentally friendly?
  • Interested in adopting low carbon tech?

 

We have researchers, academics, labs, testing facilities and students available to help. Get in touch: 0151 231 2649 or email ecoinnovatory@ljmu.ac.uk.

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If you’re not sure what sort of help you need, get in touch and we’ll help you work things out.

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