UK business: It’s time to go greener
In 2019, the UK became the first major economy in the world to commit to a legally binding target of net zero emissions by 2050. It’s a hugely ambitious target that will require genuine and sustained behavioural change for every one of us, whether it’s in the energy we use, the vehicles we drive or the food that we eat.
Reaching net zero will transform business too, with every company having to consider its own influences and impacts. There are some simple measures companies can take, like switching to renewable energy sources and increasing reuse and recycling. But there will also be difficult decisions to make that could affect a business’s products and services, its location and supply chain.
We get that we have a duty to reduce our carbon footprint and become more sustainable. But this is about more than simply legislation. It makes great business sense too. Here are four examples:
1. Going green enhances your brand image
Becoming sustainable and going green gives your customers confidence that you care about more than just your business’s profitability. At the same time, demand for eco-friendly products and services is rising.
For example, research by KPMG demonstrates that more than two-thirds (67%) of UK consumers say they care more about the environmental impact of the goods they buy today, compared to 5 years ago. And a 2019 study by a European-wide consortium of Fairtrade organisations found that more than a third of UK consumers (37%) rated environmentally friendly production and recyclable packaging as their highest priority when shopping for everyday products such as food, drinks, and cosmetics.
2. Going green and introducing smart technology can reduce your energy use and cost of utilities
Eco-friendly business measures like adopting water and energy saving efficiencies, and recycling, can reduce the cost of your business’s utilities. And incorporating IoT technology into smart metering systems can report on overall energy use and identify opportunities for efficiencies.
3. Going ‘green’ has a positive effect on recruitment and retention
Research commissioned to mark World Environment Day 2019 showed that many UK workers would turn down a job at a firm with a poor sustainability record, whilst the majority of young people would stay at a company longer if it demonstrates strong sustainability credentials.
4. Reducing your carbon footprint in 2020 prepares you more effectively for what’s to come
According to Ernst & Young’s 2020 report The Top 10 Business Risks for Business, the transition to a low-carbon economy is well underway and the pressure to accelerate this transition seems to grow every day. Tighter environmental regulations are inevitable, and the sooner businesses start preparing to reduce their carbon footprint, the better equipped they will be for what is to come.
What are we doing at O2?
This week, O2 set out its commitment to reach Net Zero in its own operations by 2025. This involves switching all of the third-party landlords that support the O2 network over to renewable electricity, and introducing technical and energy transition solutions across our whole business where necessary. O2 already uses 100% renewable energy where we control the energy bill.
As well as our own Net Zero target, we are also committing to a 30% reduction across the entire O2 supply chain, by 2025 – the fastest and furthest commitment of any network .
Sue Garrard, one of the world’s leading experts in sustainability strategies in major companies, recently joined O2’s CEO Mark Evans on a podcast to talk about the role that businesses can play in tackling climate change.
“Mobile can play a pivotal role to make our country more sustainable. From smart metering to smarter working. O2 will work with suppliers, partners and customers to ensure that this industry plays its part in delivering a greener country for us all.”
Mark Evans, CEO of O2
“The time when a business could say “do we act or not”, as a simply binary choice, are basically gone. Businesses that don’t response will very quickly find their business will become fundamentally undermined. If you haven’t got a sustainability plan, you haven’t got a plan”. Sue Garrard, independent sustainability advisor
We started this journey in 2008, working for more than a decade already to reduce our energy consumption, and are confident of achieving our 2025 net zero target. We were the first mobile network in the world to achieve the Carbon Trust Triple Standard for Carbon, Waste and Water, a standard we’ve held since 2014.
Where can you start?
Every business is different, so there is no ‘off the shelf’ solution. For example, at O2 a great proportion of emissions are in the supply chain, so it’s vital that we develop plans to work with our partners to address this through contracts and collaboration.
Work with an expert, like The Carbon Trust, who provides a range of tools and resources to help businesses of all sizes to measure their carbon footprint and benchmark their energy use. They can help you to establish what is realistically in scope for your business, calculate your biggest carbon impacts, and identify opportunities to address them.
You can read about all of the ways that we are taking the carbon out of O2 here.