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Sustainability

Boosting your green credentials: what business owners are doing now

Business leaders in the East of England shared their strategies for reducing their green footprint at a NatWest climate round table.

Key takeaways
  • Sustainability is becoming more prevalent and important to consumers in terms of who they are buying from.
  • You must show what you’re doing to meet the needs of the public – ensure you have clear and demonstrable plans to deliver on your green promises and increase customer awareness.
  • Tide levels are rising each year, particularly in the low-lying East of England. The target for many businesses is not to be net zero but to be net negative.

 

Guest speakers

Duncan Lathwell, Head of East of England Corporate, NatWest
Tony Alfano, founder, Best Imports
Mark Robinson, director, GM8 Group
Andy Ambrose, manager, Arrow Taxi
Paul Whitehair, director, Clearaway Recycling
Steve Maxwell, CEO, Worldwide Fruit
James Preston, director, TCS Biosciences
Sebastiaan Rate, Managing Director, RT Rate

Why are businesses prioritising climate-friendly actions?

Why is it important to be sustainable? Consumer demand is a key driver here.

Tony Alfano, founder of Best Imports in St Albans, Hertfordshire, said: “As a retailer, you have to show what you are doing to meet the needs of the public. Over the next 20 years, it’s going to be one of our main issues as a company, and we want to make sure we have plans in place to deliver on this.”

Andy Ambrose, manager of Arrow Taxi, in Chelmsford, Essex, explained his company’s climate motivation: “We live on the coast, and tide levels are rising each year. The potential for flooding is worse as large areas of Essex will be under water if we cannot achieve the maximum 1.5°C degrees. 

“The target for us is not to be net zero, which leaves us where we are at the moment, but to be net negative. Consumers see the impact of it, but we don’t get asked about it all the time,” he added.

Sebastiaan Rate, Managing Director of RT Rate, said: “We are keen to make a difference in the automotive industry, where everything is going electric. It brings its own issues from not having efficient charging stations. 

“New car vehicle sales have slowed down due to an issue with microchips but we know there is consumer demand for them and will be working to supply them as quickly as possible.”

Is recycling an integral part of a sustainability strategy?

In the UK and around the world, countries are considering how to become more sustainable in the way they manage resources and waste.

“I think this is where the big problem is,” said Paul Whitehair, director of Clearaway Recycling. “We all need to start talking and putting things in place to move on this. I need to tell you what I can recycle, and you have a better idea of what you can use.”

The UK government’s resources and waste strategy for England, published in December 2018, set out a plan to manage resources more efficiently and minimise waste by shifting towards a more circular economy. But the panel agreed more clarity is needed on recycling.

James Preston, director at TCS Biosciences, said: “I can talk about my credentials and what I want to do but I think the infrastructure for delivery of them is a long way behind. I would love to do my own composting but unfortunately most packaging for composting isn’t compostable without significant processing, so I have to send it away. The whole interest in climate is getting there but the infrastructure and public sector support lags.”

Steve Maxwell, CEO of Worldwide Fruit, added: “We are miles behind our western European friends on recycling. Our partners have been more precise in what they want and funded those industries that provide it.”

What can SMEs do to meet their sustainability goals?
  • Start a dialogue with other businesses and put a strategy in place to move the discussion forward on climate action.
  • Make recycling part of a climate action plan. Work collaboratively to contribute to the delivery of national targets for waste recycling, helping the UK fulfil its responsibilities to the environment.

 

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