Six tips bigger businesses can use to make a positive impact on climate change

In the wake of COP26, businesses of all shapes and sizes are looking at their impact on the environment and exploring how they can make positive changes. One of the best ways to understand how and where to start is looking to peers for advice. British Business Bank’s recent Net Zero Heroes webinar, brought three very different companies together to share their experience and advice.

What came out of the session was inspiration and advice for companies at any stage in their sustainability journey. Here are some of the key takeaways for any businesses – regardless of size.


1. This is an opportunity – don’t get left behind

Making changes now will future-proof any business. Inaction isn’t an option any more. “We should be changing things not because of legislation but as a moral obligation to do the right thing,” said Gareth Dinnage, MD of printing company, Seacourt. “We’re in a decade of change – we have eight years to reduce our carbon footprint so the time is now. There is a huge economic and business advantage in showing leadership rather than putting heads in the sand.”


man an woman sitting at table discussing with a stack of pound coins, in the background a chart showing c02 going downwards

2. Empower your teams to make an impact

While companies need to focus on sustainability in boardrooms, they should also be looking for inspiration and ideas from their teams. “Each individual within any team needs to have this as part of their thinking and ethos,” explains eco-nappy company CEO, Laura Crawford of Mama Bamboo. “They should all be looking at their processes and everything they do and offering up suggestions on how they can make a difference.”


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3. Make sustainability a critical business function

Considering how to reduce a business’s carbon footprint. Consider making the reduction of your carbon footprint top of the agenda, not a bolt on. “There’s no silver bullet here” and plotting a path forward requires attention. “We’re starting to see (Environmental, Social, and Governance) ESG representatives on boards which highlights the importance of this conversation,” says Dinnage. “We should all be taking time out of our weeks to focus on it at a strategic level.”


4. Take confidence that things have moved forward

The drive towards sustainability is moving at pace so even if you couldn’t find the things you needed as a business a few years ago, you should always keep checking because new products, materials and solutions are available all the time. “We’ve noticed since launching just two years ago that the amount of materials available to us has multiplied tenfold,” says Trash Planet founder, Holly Boxall, who makes sustainable trainers.


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5. Look beyond your industry for solutions

When you’re spearheading a new way of doing things, sometimes you need to look beyond your industry to find the answers you need. “We didn’t get our answers from the manufacturers of nappies because they hadn’t considered doing things differently,” explained Crawford. “It was really a case of looking across the board at what else was available and being used for completely different purposes.”


6. Don’t simply rely on offsetting

Finding a good partner to offset your carbon emissions is becoming a popular way for businesses to boost their environmental credentials but action shouldn’t start and end there. “Offsetting isn’t a licence to pollute,” said Dinnage. “First and foremost look at what you’re doing. Offset has its place but only after you’ve exhausted absolutely everything else.”


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