What does sustainability actually mean for businesses?


When most people think of the word ‘sustainability’, they think of our planet, and the ways businesses and consumers can work together to lessen our impact on our planet and its inhabitants.

digital image of a hand holding a miniature tree


However, sustainability for businesses isn’t just concerned with their environmental practices (though this does play a key role in ensuring sustainability). Sustainability actually refers to three areas, known as ‘profits, people, and planet’, and the ways in which organisations manage their financial, social, and environmental risks. This means that sustainability also extends to working towards ensuring equality and diversity, as well as tackling issues such as child labour and modern slavery.


Though an obvious benefit of making your business as sustainable as possible is that it helps our planet and improves the lives of the people that inhabit it, it’s becoming increasingly important to consumers, which means that business sustainability can also improve your sales.


Successful organisations hold these ethics and values at the heart of their business, and it should come as no surprise that many of the world’s biggest and most influential organisations are also some of the most sustainable. Just some of the businesses to secure a place on Forbes’ list of the ‘Most Sustainable Companies’ in 2018 include Cisco Systems, Honda Motor Co, Siemens, and Samsung SDI.


Now that you know the importance of business sustainability, it’s time to start taking steps to making your company more sustainable. A good place to start? By becoming more environmentally friendly…


Recycle your waste


According to the government’s Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a quarter of all waste in England is produced by businesses, and disposing of this waste by sending it to landfill is estimated to cost small businesses around £384 a year; and that’s not including the costs of labour and energy used. With landfill tax, waste disposal fees, and other costs continuously rising, encouraging your employees to recycle is one of the easiest ways to improve your sustainability and your bottom line.


To get everyone on board, the best approach is to make recycling as convenient as possible by placing recycling bins for different materials (such as paper, cardboard, and plastics) in offices, and communal areas such as receptions, kitchens, and break rooms. However, you should also focus on reducing less waste by putting a limit on the amount of documents each member of staff is able to print, and moving any important files and documents online.


Use less energy


Because energy is made by power plants, which releases pollutants into the air and causes higher sea levels, acid rain and rising temperatures (all of which damages our planet), businesses should make a conscious effort to reduce both their energy and water consumption. Again, encouraging your staff to print less documents will help with this, although ensuring all electrical appliances are switched off at the end of each day, or even making sure that they’ve been programmed to turn off when they haven’t been used for a certain amount of time, is also a step you should take.


When it comes to the light you use, you can also install a system that automatically switches them on and off when the room is empty, and switch to LED light bulbs, as these use less energy than traditional halogen ones do. As BCR Associates advise, you can also reduce water use by installing taps with a low flow rate, and adding flow tap aerators to control the amount of water that flows through your taps.


Reduce air pollution


The detrimental effect that air pollution has on the environment and humans’ general health and well-being has been well documented, making it one of the most vital areas for businesses to tackle if they want to improve their sustainability. As DEFRA (the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) explains, high levels of pollutants can irritate the eyes, nose and airways of the lungs, as well as cause the Earth’s temperature to rise, negatively effecting water resources, crops, and wildlife.


One way your business can reduce air pollution is by streamlining the services you outsource so they’re provided by fewer suppliers. This reduces the amount of vehicles travelling to and from your premises on a regular basis. Additionally, you should be encouraging your employees to set up carpools or cycle to work. We recommend putting a Cycle to Work scheme in place, as this government initiative allows you to loan up to £1,000 worth of cycles and cyclist safety equipment to your staff tax free.


At phs Wastekit, we offer a range of waste balers and compactors to enable you to make savings on your waste collections, as well as dispose of your waste more economically. To find out more about our products, contact us today.

Do you have a question?