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Smart City Sentinel

Areas to Target in a Business Sustainability Plan

By Special Guest
Thomas Goodall, Correspondent

It has never been more critical for businesses to become as environmentally friendly and as sustainable as possible than it is now. Climate change is one of the biggest threats to the planet going forward. Therefore, the need for sustainability plans within businesses has never been greater.

Sustainability plans aim to achieve long term goals by targeting areas of, in this case, businesses which can be improved to lower the company’s environmental footprint.

There are many areas, particularly in business, which can be targeted to reduce waste and improve sustainability. With the reduction in all the targeted areas, the overall savings can be very significant. Below are four areas which apply to a range of businesses and can be the basis of a sustainability plan.

Vehicle tracking
For a company which operates a commercial fleet, vehicle tracking is a system which can make significant reductions to fuel use, which benefits both the environment and the company’s finances.

By installing hardware into fleet vehicles, a range of parameters can be monitored. These include harsh acceleration and braking, engine idling and speeding, all of which contribute to excessive fuel usage. Drivers are alerted to this behaviour and can correct it instantly; however, fleet managers also have access to the information through reports produced from the telematics data generated from the systems.

By reducing the amount of fuel used it also reduces the levels of CO2 produced by vehicles. This, however, raises a key point about sustainability plans which is they are produced to bring about long-term change. It is important not to focus on making vast improvements, with something such as fuel usage, very quickly. Over time the savings can be significant but it can be useful to build in short-term goals into a sustainability plan to help track progress.

Going paperless
With more and more work being done on, with or by computers, the need to produce paper documents has reduced significantly. There are several areas within any company which use paper despite a paperless option being available. One such area, which applies to every company, is pay-slips.

Traditionally each month a company’s employees would receive their pay slip and a cheque to pay into their account. With the development of online banking; however, the majority of wages are now paid by direct bank transfer on a designated day of the week or month. Even though the cheque has now largely been abandoned as a method of wage payment, paper pay-slips are still sent out to employees.

Considering large companies generate these slips with a computer, think of the environmental and financial benefit to sending out pay-slips by email rather than physical versions.

The same applies to any communication to staff members; email is faster, more environmentally friendly and cheaper, therefore moving towards a paperless business would make a valuable section of any sustainability plan.

Planting trees and plants
One of the aims for many businesses sustainability plans will likely be to reduce the CO2 footprint of the company. A good way of doing this can be through planting trees or other plants in any outside space available.

Hardwood trees can absorb CO2 from the air, and while the amount of CO2 absorbed does not cancel out the levels produced by humans, it certainly helps.

Recycling and reusing
Recycling and reusing is not only a great addition to any business sustainability plan but can significantly help people in their personal lives as well. However, for businesses, there are some straightforward steps which can make a big difference. Implementing a recycling policy in the office for any paper and in an office-kitchen having the correct recycling bins available for people to use can dramatically reduce the waste produced by an office.

Reusing items can also be very simple. Rather than having a water cooler with single-use cups, why not provide staff with water bottles they can reuse. Office furniture is another area which is easy to reuse, for example, if a sofa is needed for communal space look into second hand or restored options rather than buying new. Similarly, simple office supplies like desks and chairs can be restored to very high standards and can easily meet the needs of a busy office. Both recycling and reusing can significantly reduce the waste of a business and could save money with items such as reused furniture.

About the author: Thomas Goodall is a contributor who has an interest in advancements in vehicle technology, telematics and sustainability. Goodall contributes work to a variety of online publications on a range of topics.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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