5 ways to reduce the carbon footprint of a small business

It might seem like there is not much that can be done to reduce the carbon footprint of a small business. But even a small business can calculate where their highest carbon emissions are generated and change the way they work. Here are five ways to reduce the carbon footprint of a small business. 

1. Save energy

One of the easiest ways a small business can reduce its carbon footprint is to save energy. There are lots of ways to do this. Green technology, like smart meters, can show a business where the most energy is being used. Energy efficient boilers can save on costs and consumption of gas. Installing energy efficient lighting can reduce energy consumption too.   

100% renewable energy supplies have next to no carbon emissions. They have a much smaller carbon footprint than fossil fuels. Change suppliers to a clean energy supplier. Always check the fuel mix as some are not 100% renewable, so they look green and clean but are not necessarily. This is greenwashing. Octopus Energy can supply 100% renewable energy. 

2. Green building design

Most commercial buildings can improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption. If you own the building, ask an energy consultant for advice on how to upgrade it. Install new heating and use renewable energy systems like solar panels or heat pumps. Improve building insulation to reduce the requirement for heating. 

Green roofs are not just for aesthetics, they can contribute to insulation and cooling of buildings. Elite Renewables or The Green Building Store can help with advice on retrofitting energy upgrades and Eco Alex can install roof gardens (he’s also an energy consultant and can advise on your heating and renewables). 

3. Material use and procurement

Materials play a large part in a manufacturing business and careful procurement can make a difference. Buying local materials will save on transport costs and the associated carbon emissions. It is worth researching to find sustainable and ethical suppliers who will be mindful of the energy costs and natural resources required to make or supply materials. 

Choosing packaging materials that are sustainable will ensure that the business does not contribute to landfill and waste. Reusing packaging materials or recycled materials will generate less carbon emissions than using virgin materials. Eco-craft make sustainable packaging for businesses. 

4. Waste management 

Assessing the business to make sure that it uses or re-uses as much material as possible so that it is not wasteful is key to reducing any excess procurement. Buying reused or recycled materials will contribute to the circular economy and reduce the requirement for new production. 

Water is a key resource that is often overlooked. Water recycling during production processes is a key way to reduce waste. Recycled water can also be used in toilet cisterns. Fitting low-flow toilet cisterns, showers and taps that automatically turn off will save water. Kitchens can also benefit from washing up bowls or energy & water efficient washing machines and dishwashers.

5. Transportation 

Transport is the largest emissions sector in the UK. Any actions to reduce transportation or make it more sustainable would benefit the environment. Buying an electric vehicle fleet or hiring transport that is electric will reduce carbon emissions. Octopus Energy leases electric vehicles to businesses. 

When travelling for business, use public transport as much as possible. And choose forms of transport that are less intensive e.g. take a train instead of flying or driving. Encourage employees to car share or use public transportation. 

How to reduce the carbon footprint of a small business

We hope that this list of ideas for how you can reduce the carbon footprint of a small business is helpful. Even in a small business, changes can be made that will benefit the planet. The changes can also help to reduce business costs. If you need advice on where to start, don’t forget that small businesses can benefit from our free net zero training for members.

Annette Clubley

Annette is a keen wildlife conservationist, mindful of sustainability and our impact on the environment. Outside of work, family is her focus and she loves teaching the next generation to enjoy the outdoors.