Home Business Insights & Advice How to become a sustainable business in 2024

How to become a sustainable business in 2024

by Sarah Dunsby
8th Jul 24 1:08 pm

As the effects of climate change and resource scarcity are becoming more apparent, many businesses are realising the importance of becoming sustainable. Yet, while making business practices more sustainable is commendable, organisations need to take the right steps to transition into sustainability successfully. This involves understanding their current environmental impact, developing strategies to reduce this impact, getting certified by valid environmental agencies, and continuing to monitor and report on how the sustainability strategies are working. Let’s look at each step in more detail and how businesses can apply them in their move to sustainability.

Assess current impact

Before an organisation can develop sustainable practices, it first needs to understand the impact of its current business model. An assessment of a business’s current impact should focus on any legislation that affects the business now or in the future, details of resources used daily, as well as how much waste is generated each day, the energy expended in operating the business, plus total water and fuel usage. The assessment should also look at any significant incidents that may have affected the environment in the past. Information can be gathered through records and documentation, on-site environmental monitoring and inspections, and interviews with key personnel.

Define and apply ecological practices

Once a business has an understanding of what its current environmental impact is, it can start developing practices to minimise this impact. First, the business should determine what its environmental targets should be. This can relate to carbon emissions, waste, and the use of water, energy and resources. Once these targets are established, the business should determine what strategies to apply in order to achieve these targets, as well as who will be responsible for seeing that these tasks are carried out. These strategies should be monitored to ensure they are working correctly and producing the desired results.

Aquire certifications

Any business can claim to be sustainable and may even have the evidence to prove it. The best way to verify that a business is sustainable, however, is to apply for a valid certification from an environmental agency. Here are some of the key certifications an organisation can apply for:

For sustainable businesses, B Corp Certification is a verified standard to demonstrate their positive impacts on people and the planet. It proves that the business is committed to its environmental and social responsibilities with complete accountability and transparency.

ISO 14001 refers to a family of international standards set out by the International Organisation for Standardisation dealing with environmental management. ISO 14001 Certification is awarded to companies complying with these standards to reduce waste and improve the environment.

For businesses in the tourism and hospitality industries, Green Key is an international certification awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education to those organisations that commit to sustainable business practices.

In the building and construction industry, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is awarded to sustainably designed buildings and structures.

Monitor and report data actions

Once a business has been certified as sustainable, it must continue to monitor and report on its strategies and their impact to maintain that status. Regular check-ins should be carried out to see how well these strategies are working, including whether staff and clients are supporting these decisions. If there is resistance, try to find out what can be done to mitigate this such as education or better resources. Sustainability is an ongoing process, and businesses should continue to monitor and assess their environmental impact regularly and transparently.

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