A low-carbon strategy should look at each of the following areas:
Your strategy should look at the different types of energy that you use for heat, light and power for machinery. It should measure where and when you use energy, so that you can spot times when your energy use is particularly high. Once you've measured this, you can explore ways of reducing your energy use. For example, perhaps you have higher levels of lighting than you need for some areas of your warehousing operations?
You should also look at the sources of your energy. With government incentives available for renewable heat and electricity, you could use some of your assets (land, buildings) to generate your own energy from solar energy or wind power. You could also consider switching your heating system to biomass – particularly if you produce combustible waste, such as wood offcuts. For all energy that you produce from renewable sources, you could cut your fuel bills and earn an income at the same time.
To get a quick overview of the main types of renewable energy and the various incentives that are available, have a look at our 5-minute briefing about all things renewable.
Many businesses use a lot of water, and the costs mount up. It’s a good idea to measure how much water you use, and crucially, to see if this is less than the amount that you pay for. Leaks happen, and they’re not always obvious – and this is money, literally, down the drain.
You can cut water bills by installing the right equipment, such as automatic taps and efficient water cisterns. You might also be able to recycle some of your water, especially if you use water for cleaning equipment such as your transport fleet. It all adds up.
Waste isn't the most glamorous subject. But with landfill taxes increasing, the cost of disposing of waste could be a big part of your costs. A detailed investigation of your waste could lead to significant savings – 20% reductions in disposal costs are not uncommon. So start with a few questions.
Find out how much waste you produce, and what’s in the bins. Some waste products, such as cardboard, can be used by other businesses. If you produce enough of these types of waste, you could even be paid for them if you can segregate your waste into the different types.
Are you paying for waste disposal by weight, or volume? We’ve found that some companies can save money by investing in a compacting baler which reduces the volume of waste, and cuts the cost of collection.
Could you produce less waste? If you can recycle more, this reduces your landfill taxes. For example, if you produce food waste, you might be able to generate renewable energy from the waste as it decomposes.
Where does your waste end up? Could more of it be recycled, or sent to another company that can use your waste as part of its production process? A detailed audit of your waste, from start to finish, might reveal some surprising – and profitable – information.
If you’re in the manufacturing or food and drink sectors, then you’ll know that a considerable amount of your cost is in the production of your product. It’s a good idea to look at the design of your products to see if they can be produced with less energy. Could they use more recycled material? Could the packaging be reduced without risking damage to the product? Think about the whole lifecycle of the product. Could you cut the costs of transporting the product by changing the way that it is assembled? Could you design it so that it can be packed into smaller boxes for transportation?
Consider finding out the carbon footprint of your products. This is a great way of getting a good insight into the best ways of cutting the amount of energy that your products use, such as transport of the raw materials, packaging design, manufacturing and transport of the finished product.
Your carbon emissions don’t stop at your exit gate. The products and materials that you source – including your energy – all contribute to your carbon footprint. (In the jargon, carbon emissions from your premises are sometimes referred to as ‘tier 1’ emissions. Tier 2 emissions include the carbon emissions generated by your energy supplier, and tier 3 emissions include emissions created by your suppliers.) It’s good practice to investigate your supply chain and to look for ways that you can develop a sustainable procurement policy. You could also seek to help smaller companies in your supply chain to meet basic standards in environmental performance.