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The Environment and a Family Business

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 24 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Environment Family Business

An average small office based company in the UK has an average annual energy bill of around £2,100 but could be wasting over £400 of this every year by using older inefficient equipment, leaving equipment and lighting on unnecessarily and heating / cooling to inappropriate levels.

What is clear from these findings is that environmental issues are now firmly on the business agenda. For the family business developing strategies that take the environment into account not only improves overall profitability, it can also enhance the relationship a family business has with its customers.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Often seen as only the province of larger corporations Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) now impacts on every business including family run enterprises. Chief executives, employees and investors alike are recognising the importance of companies being proactively responsible in areas of the marketplace, workplace, environment and community.

CSR can have many facets, but environmental responsibility is a core component. Family businesses that have a strong brand must ensure their environmental credentials are spotless. Customers are looking for long-term partnerships with the businesses that sell them goods or services. Increasingly, how a business handles its impact on the environment is now seen as a major factor in the decision to buy from one business rather than another. For all family businesses a comprehensive CSR policy is essential, with a clearly defined environmental remit.

Environmental Legislation

The EU now has strict guidelines that you must follow when disposing of your unwanted IT hardware. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive was adopted by the EU in 2003. It aims to reduce the amount of WEEE being disposed in landfills by promoting separate collection, treatment and recycling.

Research published by the Carbon Trust has identified that the use of advanced metering by SMEs (Small, Medium Enterprises) could save 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year and also provide a net financial benefit to the UK economy. Cutting carbon also results in significant financial savings for SMEs. On average, the companies who took part in the trial saved over £1,000 a year on their energy bills. The Carbon Trust have a wide range of guides to help your family business reduce its overall carbon footprint.

Compliance with all the required environmental legislation is a commercial necessity for all family businesses. Organisations including NetRegs and Envirowise can help your family business ensure it has a good policy when it comes to handling its environmental responsibilities.

Enhance Your Brand and Avoid Greenwashing

Customers are increasingly asking about the ‘green’ credentials of the businesses they deal with. Family businesses that have gained the trust of consumers must take care to ensure their environmental credentials are not damaged by what could be perceived as green washing where a business pays little more than lip service to their environmental policies. Always ensure that the stated environmental policies of your family business can stand up to scrutiny.

The Carbon Trust in their report on carbon management concluded: “Company response to climate change increasingly impacts both operational efficiency and the bottom line. Moreover, the growing number of Government initiatives and international agreements on climate change indicate that this topic will continue to grow in importance as an issue for governments, investors, employees and consumers alike.”

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