Understand your business emissions
1) What causes emissions
Direct carbon emissions produced by manufacturing and production include:
- energy use – electricity and gas for lighting, heating and machinery
- general waste – when it is not recycled and ends up at landfill sites
- transport – using petrol or diesel vehicles to deliver products
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 also learn how to run your business in a more environmentally friendly way by hiring a sustainability consultant
2) Support in your region
Invest Northern Ireland offers advice on how to operate more efficiently. Support includes:
- consultancy for energy and waste management strategies and recommendations
- resource matching service to manage waste and reduce costs
- investment funding for energy saving equipment
Actions you can take right now
1) Use less energy at your office and work buildings
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
- machinery and ventilation – carry out regular checks and maintenance
2) 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
3) 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.
4) Switch to a smart meter
This will allow you to see and control how much energy you use. Find out more
5) Manage your waste
Reduce 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 factory or workplace
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.
Heat recovery systems
Waste heat from industrial processes can be converted into energy. Find out more about heat recovery systems
2) Make your compressed air system more efficient
You can do this by:
- reducing compressor pressure
- identifying and fixing leaks
- recovering lost heat and using it for space heating
3) Use smart technology
This will help you improve productivity and efficiency. Options include:
- robotics – automated production ensures greater precision and use of assets
- 3D printing – helps efficient use of materials, extending life cycle of parts
- digital twin technology – creates digital replicas of assets to avoid producing waste
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) – uses predictive analysis to optimize productivity and predict inconsistencies
4) Install high efficiency motors
Electric motor-driven systems often use more power than they need to. Find out how to reduce energy use with high efficiency motors and variable speed drives
Rebuilding goods out of used materials is common practice in the automotive, energy, aerospace and rail industries.
By restoring end-of-life goods to working order, you can keep the cost of raw materials, energy and water to a minimum. You’ll also have less waste to dispose of.
Find out more from the Scottish Remanufacturing Institute, wherever you are in the UK.
6) Sustainable product packaging
Replace plastic with recycled or compostable substitutes.
Types of sustainable packing include:
- plant-based packaging
- edible packaging – made from seaweed extract
- compostable and biodegradable plastic alternatives
- plantable packaging – which is made from seeds and can be buried in soil
7) Carbon offsetting
You can offset unavoidable carbon emissions by buying carbon credits. This is where you pay for an equivalent amount of emissions to be removed elsewhere.
8) 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 work vehicle, you can make savings on fuel costs by buying or renting 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.
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