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The UK government has set an ambitious target of being net zero by 2050, and businesses have an important role to play. Sustainable business practices can help businesses to reduce their emissions and contribute to the fight against climate change. But there are also plenty of other benefits for a business that is more sustainable.

In this guide, we will look at ten sustainable business practices, the various benefits these can bring, and how companies can use their management information to make better decisions on sustainability.

Examples of sustainable business practices

Sustainability is a major topic in the international business community, and there are so many ways that businesses can become more sustainable. Sustainability means saving money, nurturing more ethical reputation, and, of course, making a active contribution to the planet itself.

Here are ten examples of sustainable business practices.

Sustainable packaging

Sustainable packaging is generally made from biodegradable materials, meaning they are either easy to recycle or reuse. They may also be compostable. Using more sustainable packaging goes a long way to reducing the amount of waste produced by a business. This waste would otherwise be sent to the landfill.

Going paperless (where possible)

Paper is a major source of waste in many businesses, especially offices. By eliminating unnecessary paper usage, businesses can save money and reduce their environmental impact. A business should ask itself:

  1. Does every printed document need to be printed?

  2. Can certain administrative or accounting processes be done online or via software?

  3. Can digital note-taking via electronic devices replace paper notepads?

Water conservation

All businesses consume water, from toilets, appliances and other facilities, to production and manufacturing. Plenty of water usage is essential for a business to operate, but sustainability means assessing what water consumption is required, and what it may be possible to reduce. Businesses can conserve water in a number of ways, including the installation of water-saving fixtures, or promptly fixing any leaks or faulty plumbing on the premises.

Renewable energy

Businesses can reduce their carbon footprint by using renewable energy sources to power their operations, such as wind or solar power. This may not always be practical, but is a worthwhile step towards sustainability where it is possible.

Invest in green projects

Businesses can invest in or support major green projects by partnering with environmental organisations; this could be through donations or business deals. Other businesses pledge to plant trees to offset their carbon footprint (or replace those they use). Others invest in solar panels and other energy-saving materials.

Engage with sustainable products and services

Sustainable solutions to business requirements and challenges are often very easy to find. When a business purchases sustainable products and services for use in their operations, they are helping to support other businesses that are committed to reducing their own environmental impact.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

This is known as the 3Rs. In short, the 3Rs are a simple policy that involves reducing the environmental impact of a business by reducing waste, reusing items and materials wherever possible, and recycling those which they cannot reuse. When dealing with potential waste, a business should consider whether the 3Rs might be applied.

Educate employees about sustainability

A company is a team, and a sustainability policy should extend all the way through it. To be more sustainable, educating employees is really important. Whether this is the importance and ease of recycling or reusing materials, going paperless, or other environmentally friendly activities, education helps employees make more sustainable choices in both the workplace and even at home.

The benefits of sustainable business practices

Sustainable business practices don't just benefit the environment and local community; they can also bring a wide range of benefits to the business itself, including greater profitability.

Here are some important benefits that come with more sustainable business practices.

Reduced costs

Energy-efficient processes and appliances don't just help reduce emissions, they also help you save money by reducing the consumption of energy. The massive increase in the cost of energy since 2022 is a strong incentive to be smarter with energy consumption and reduce these costs.

Increased revenue

Sustainable business practices make money. While essential, it's not just about doing the right thing ethically. Sustainable businesses can cultivate a positive public image, a reputation for behaving responsibly. These ethical businesses attract customers who are passionate about supporting social or environmental issues.

Improved employee morale

Employees may be more likely to be happy (and therefore more productive) when they work for a company that is committed to sustainability. Ethically-minded employees will be attracted to companies whose social or environmental values align with their own.

Sustainability often comes hand-in-hand with other positive cultural traits. A positive and progressive culture is also likely to give employee well-being plenty of attention.

Improved efficiencies

Going paperless is a popular method of making a business more sustainable, but it is not just about reducing waste. Taking important documents and processes online (or digital) can make that information more easily accessible, and easier to process. This can greatly improve collaboration, administration and overall efficiency.

How can Management Information help a business become more sustainable?

Good management information (or MI) is an essential component when improving business sustainability in a strategic way.

MI can help businesses track important data, such as environmental impact, cash flow, waste and other financial information. It can also help decision-makers identify opportunities for improvement, helping them make informed decisions about sustainability, all while keeping performance and growth at the core of their decision-making.

If greater sustainability is a goal for your business, your management information is the best place to start. Your first priority should be ensuring this information is high-quality, accessible, and tailored to your specific goals. Depending on your starting point, this can be tricky to begin with.

If you require any assistance in setting up your management information for success in sustainability, reach out to the Genus team, who will be happy to advise.


Alicia Williams

Alicia is Director of the Genus team at Shorts, a chartered certified accountant and Xero specialist.

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