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How do Environmental Programmes Deliver Results for Business?

Sara Bell | 12 April 2017 |

Have you identified a solution to help your business meet its climate or renewable energy goals, but unsure how to sell it to your CEO? In this blog, we explore some of the key benefits delivered to business through an effective environmental programme. Read on to find out more.

Investing in environmental programmes because it is the “right thing to do” is laudable, but for most corporates, they must demonstrate the value that will be delivered to the business - beyond meeting an emission reduction target or renewable energy goal - in order to obtain board-level approval.

Meet business objectives

The most powerful environmental programmes are those which are not approached in isolation, but align with and support the delivery of broader business goals. This might be the implementation of initiatives in key operational or market locations, a focus on supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or alignment with business expertise and values.

Since 2012, Willmott Dixon has operated as a carbon neutral construction company. Central to the company’s carbon neutral programme is supporting projects which align with the core values of the business and the aims of the Willmott Dixon Foundation. Each year Willmott Dixon reports on the social and community impact that has been delivered through its carbon offset portfolio, and evaluates suitable projects for the year ahead. This information is then shared with its stakeholders through its annual Sustainable Development Review.

For Burt’s Bees, sustainability is integral to the company’s purpose of creating natural beauty products. For the past four years, Burt’s Bees has used CarbonNeutral® company certification to reinforce its environmentally-friendly ethos by delivering an immediate positive impact while also driving internal emission reductions.

Follow this link to hear from more clients on how they have integrated their environmental programme with the values and priorities of their business.

Build reputation for leadership

Ambitious environmental programmes can be used to not only protect, but enhance business reputation for leadership; whether to retain and attract the best talent, or demonstrate leadership across an industry sector.

In 2006, Sky became the world’s first CarbonNeutral media company. Alongside a broad range of corporate responsibility initiatives, carbon neutrality has enabled Sky to build its reputation as a responsible business and raise awareness on the importance of taking action. The company has been carbon neutral for more than a decade and it remains an integral part of Sky’s corporate identity. This year, Sky has become one of the first companies to support unbundled Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) extending its commitment to renewable energy in the UK.

Since 2007, Freshfields has purchased carbon credits on an annual basis to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality. In 2015, the firm made a longer term commitment to deliver greater socio-economic impact and demonstrate leadership within the legal sector. With a 10-year commitment to carbon neutrality, Freshfields will support a reforestation project in East Africa to plant two million trees and improve the livelihoods of more than 8,000 farmers.

Follow this link to hear from more clients on how they are building a reputation through climate action.

Secure competitive advantage

Setting and meeting emission reduction and renewable energy goals can offer a key point of difference when it comes to retaining clients and winning new business by meeting customer demands for low carbon products and services.

In response to growing customer demand to reduce the footprint of its product shipments, CHEP introduced an opt-in CarbonNeutral pallet service. This enables CHEP’s customers to reduce the residual emissions associated with their pallet movements to net zero, delivering an immediate and cost-effective way for customers to compensate for the carbon footprint of the pallets used across their supply chain.

Since 2010, Eden Springs has helped its customers to reduce their own environmental impact and contribute to collective climate action. For every new coffee or water machine installation, Eden Springs calculates, reduces and then offsets the emissions to net zero, offering customers a CarbonNeutral drinks solution. This includes the emissions associated with the usage of the machine (water/coffee inputs, electricity usage, transportation) for one year.

Follow this link to hear from more clients on how they are using climate action as a point of difference.

Engage stakeholders

Communicating action to support low carbon sustainable development is key to build awareness, understanding and interest in your programme amongst internal and external stakeholders.

For online retailer Zappos, employee travel is a critical part of building supplier relationships and keeping ahead of latest fashion trends. However, through its carbon neutral programme, the business wanted to raise staff awareness of travelling responsibly by compensating for these emissions through the support of three avoided deforestation projects in North and South America.

When introducing its carbon management programme, Sopra Steria knew that if staff were engaged in the programme, they would be the most effective programme ambassadors. Through the group sustainability committee and local sustainability champions, the company has informed and inspired teams with posters, lunch and learn sessions and collaboration platforms, to raise awareness and build momentum to manage and reduce emissions.

Follow this link to hear from more clients on how they are using their climate action programmes to engage stakeholders.

Build supply chain resilience

Beyond reducing the direct environmental impact of your business, you can combine climate action with sustainable development in key business locations, to reduce supply chain risks and build resilient communities.

In 2015, Taylors of Harrogate set a goal of carbon neutral sourcing by 2020, but the company wanted to do more than just reduce and offset its emissions. By supporting a reforestation project in Kenya for the first phase of its CarbonNeutral sourcing programme, it is enabling its smallholder tea farmers to improve their livelihoods and build resilience through tree planting. The project provides training on conservation farming to enhance land productivity and alternative crops and products to improve food security and develop new income streams.

Since becoming CarbonNeutral in 2012, Marks and Spencer has sought ways to align its carbon offset portfolio with its programme to empower communities within the supply chain, selecting projects which support livelihoods and food security, protect biodiversity and improve health and well-being. In its key supply country of Bangladesh, the company enabled UNICEF to launch its first improved cookstoves project, distributing 46,000 cookstoves to improve the health and well-being of 2,000 villages through a reduction in indoor air pollution.

Follow this link to find out more about aligning climate action to build supply chain resilience.

Whatever your business goals or interests, we will work with you to build a tailored environmental programme that will deliver immediate progress on your climate or renewable energy targets. Contact us to find out more.

To hear how we can help you plan and deliver an effective communications strategy to drive further value from your environmental programme, watch this video from our Chief Marketing Officer, Rebecca Fay.

To find out more about how we work with clients to deliver business value and positive impact on the environment and society, view this infographic.