Understand your business emissions
1) What causes emissions
Direct carbon emissions produced by the energy and waste sectors:
- electricity and gas – for lighting, heating, office equipment and machinery
- combustion of residual waste in energy-from-waste (EfW) plants
- operation of wastewater treatment plants
- general waste – when it’s not recycled and sent to landfill sites
- transport – using petrol or diesel vehicles to deliver services
2) Calculate your emissions
Use a carbon calculator to work out your business’s carbon footprint. This is measured in tonnes, over a year.
3) Estimate the cost of your emissions
Once you have your carbon footprint, you can calculate how much your emissions are costing you. This will give you an idea of potential savings you can make by taking action.
4) Sign up to the SME climate commitment
Make a climate declaration to show customers you are committed to reducing emissions.
1) Support in your sector
You can get help or advice from the following organisations:
- Organics Recycling Group (ORG) – provides guidance for the biodegradable waste management industry
- British Water – trade association for the water and wastewater industry
- Environmental Services Association (ESA) – for the UK resource and waste management industry
- Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) – a charity which promotes research in water and environmental management
- Road Haulage Association (RHA)
You can also learn how to run your business in a more environmentally friendly way by hiring a sustainability consultant
2) Support in your region
The following grants, schemes and loan programmes are available in North East England:
- Durham’s North East Business Support Fund gives SMEs up to £3,200 in matching funds for business improvements
- Northumberland’s North East Business Support Fund gives SMEs up to £2,800 in matching funds for business improvements
- North of Tyne Growth Fund gives SMEs up to 30% in matching funds when they plan to invest at least £67,000 in premises improvements and other capital costs. Must be located in Newcastle, North Tyneside or Northumberland.
- Tyne and Wear’s North East Business Support Fund gives SMEs up to £2,800 in matching funds for business improvements
Actions you can take right now
1) Use less energy at your office or workplace
Quick, low-cost measures include:
- lighting – use LED bulbs for greater efficiency
- heating – put your thermostat on a timer and seal your windows for extra insulation
- office equipment – try to turn off and unplug devices when they’re not being used
2) Do an energy walk-round
Walk around your buildings and see where energy is being used:
- Prepare a checklist. Look at lighting, heating and refrigeration systems, as well as ventilation and water heating.
- Identify wasteful energy use and maintenance issues.
- Check at different times of day and compare day and night time use.
- Monitor over a period of a week for accurate average figures.
- Make sure equipment is checked and cleaned regularly to ensure maximum efficiency.
3) Decide if you need an energy strategy
Depending on the size of your business, you might need to implement an energy management strategy. An energy manager will help you:
- Measure and monitor energy use.
- Target ways to use energy as efficiently as possible.
Train your workforce
You can train your team to be aware of energy efficiency in the workplace. Find a course
4) Change your energy tariff
Switch to a green energy tariff with your energy supplier. This will reduce your reliance on energy produced by fossil fuels.
5) Switch to a smart meter
This will allow you to see and control how much energy you use. Find out how.
6) Manage your waste
Recycle waste to prevent it being taken to landfill sites where it takes longer to break down and causes more emissions.
Longer term actions
1) Making changes to your work buildings and office
If you are the legal owner, there are a number of long-term measures you can take to improve energy efficiency.
Check planning permission guidelines before you go ahead with any structural changes to the property.
Improving insulation and windows
You can make long-term savings on energy bills by insulating your workplace and replacing old windows.
You can also make significant long-term savings by installing renewable sources of energy.
2) Reducing transport emissions
Over a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions are caused by transport. You can take measures to reduce the impact.
If you have employees you could introduce a cycle-to-work initiative or encourage them to take public transport.
If you use a vehicle for work, you can reduce emissions by switching to an electric vehicle (EV). You would be exempt from road tax, congestion charges and parking fees in certain areas.
For easy overnight charging you could install EV chargers at your home or workplace. A government grant scheme covers up to £350 per charging point.
3) Selling carbon credits
You can capture carbon emissions from the air by planting woodland on your property .
You can then sell each tonne of captured carbon as carbon credits to:
- large companies looking to offset their carbon footprint
- the government (England only)
4) Carbon offsetting
If you have unavoidable carbon emissions you can offset them by buying carbon credits. This is where you pay for an equivalent amount of emissions to be removed elsewhere.
To reduce indirect or ‘supply chain’ emissions you need to consider what happens before and after your business provides a service or makes a product.
1) Choose greener ‘upstream’ suppliers and products
- use suppliers that measure and reduce carbon
- help your suppliers with carbon reduction projects
- buy products that take less energy to make, transport and operate
2) Reduce emissions ‘downstream’ of your business
- make products that take less energy to make, transport and operate
- reduce water consumption and waste disposal needs
- make investments in lower carbon financial products
- give incentives for lower emission activities in leased assets or franchises
3) Certify your supply chain action
The Carbon Trust offers the following verification schemes:
Share your progress
Sharing your progress will help employees and customers feel confident that you’re reducing carbon and moving towards net zero.
You should share your progress once you’ve done both of the following:
- worked out a benchmark of emissions
- started to take action