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8 top tips to reduce the carbon footprint of your business

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Boosting green credentials might be the last thing on a busy entrepreneur's mind, but you might be surprised at how much difference environmental practices can make to your bottom line.

According the Institute of Business Ethics, companies with a public commitment to ethics and environmental practices have, on average, 18% higher profits and a recent survey by the Carbon Trust revealed that 47% of people would buy a product labelled ‘low carbon' over one that isn't.
 
Here are a few tips to help small and medium-sized businesses deliver more eco-friendly products and services.
 

Reduce packaging or use recycled packaging

Unnecessary and non-recyclable packaging contributes to landfill and pollution. If your product is as eco-friendly as possible, its packaging should reflect this too. Use recycled materials and encourage your customers to re-use or recycle your packaging. Recycled packaging is easy to come by and has become a more cost-effective option than it used to be as demand has grown. Plus, using less packaging means a cost saving for you and can make delivery more efficient.
 

Reduce your use of transport

Reviewing your transport can also offer opportunities for reducing carbon emissions and costs. Choose transport methods with the least environmental impact and plan your logistics to be as efficient as possible. Not only is this better for the environment but it will save you fuel costs. You can find more information on the Department for Transport website.
 

Ensure your supply chain is environmentally friendly

You can also minimise your environmental impact through your supply chain by identifying which suppliers and their products and services have the highest environmental impact. Ask your current suppliers about their environmental performance and, when sourcing new suppliers, look for those with who have environmental management systems or who have products and services that come from sustainable sources.
 

Offer a green option

Just like energy companies offer ‘green billing', think if there is a way in which your service could be adapted slightly to be more eco-friendly, for example emailing invoices.
 

Cut your carbon emissions

The CarbonNeutral company offers a carbon calculator for small businesses, plus a service to help you cut your emissions and a scheme that lets you offset your carbon output so you are carbon-neutral. Then you can advertise yourself as a carbon neutral company with their CarbonNeutral® trademark. You can also find free advice and resources from the Carbon Trust and Envirowise.
 

Ensure you comply with environmental legislation

Visit the Environmental Agency's website for useful free environmental advice to help small businesses comply with government legislation.
 

Switch to renewable energy

The majority of the UK's electricity comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas. This is a major contributor to climate change. Switching to renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power, to run your office helps cut your carbon emissions but also helps support the uptake of green energy which is vital in the move towards a low-carbon economy.
 

Tell customers about your green credentials

If you're already doing all of these things, tell people about it! This isn't a cynical marketing tactic, consumers genuinely like to make informed decisions about what they buy. And if your company is eco-friendly, you should be proud of the fact.
 
Provide detailed information on the company website explaining your green product claims that can be linked to from your product packaging, invoice and marketing.

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