Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting has become an essential component of a company's annual reporting. Although there are no specific regulatory requirements on ESG, reporting expectations from regulators and non-regulatory bodies are increasing with the continued expansion of requirements for sustainability disclosures.
Reporting on ESG performance provides investors with the routine information they look to analyse and financial and strategic documentation.
The environmental element of ESG refers to a company's impact on the planet. This measures a company's efforts and initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint and increase sustainability in its operations. Here are some practical ways to reduce your environmental impact, which you can include in your ESG report.
Top 6 ways to reduce your environmental impact
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
- Be energy efficient
- Encourage less travelling
- Aim to go paperless
- Think before you drink
- Keep sourcing local
1. Reduce, reuse, recycle
Reducing the number of disposable items in your office can go a long way in protecting the environment. Paper cups and plastic cutlery, and bottles are some of the main contributors to overflowing landfills. Aim to rid your office space of any supplies that are not reusable. This reduces your firm's waste generation and will also cut costs.
Another method of improving waste management is to reuse items where possible—for example, reusing tableware for lunches or events that your firm hosts or reusing packaging such as boxes if you need to send items to clients.
Recycling is one of the highest-impact actions firms can take to reduce their carbon footprint. Implement recycling systems around your office, such as paper recycling boxes, compostable coffee pods and food waste recycling which staff can use.
Recycling doesn't only refer to how office waste is managed but also to where it is sourced. Ensure that your office products are sustainably sourced where items such as toilet paper, packaging and other supplies are made from recycled material.
If you have to use paper, make sure it is certified as recycled. On that note, buying recycled toner and ink can reduce the amount of metal and plastics that enter landfills.
2. Be energy efficient
Energy conservation is one of the best ways an office space can reduce its environmental impact. Ensuring your building is well insulated to avoid wasting energy on heating and cooling the premises is a good starting point.
Implementing energy-efficient lighting that is senor operated so the lights turn off when rooms are not in use is an effective energy-efficient application. Another option is to install solar panels or wind power generators, which is arguably one of the most environmentally-friendly ways of sourcing energy.
Simple changes can be actioned relatively quickly, such as:
- replacing a kettle with a water boiler
- unplugging computers when they are not in use and encouraging staff to shut down computers after hours
- replacing light bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs
- setting your thermostat to go off during the hours that the office is not in use to conserve energy
- replace office plants with those that require less water to save on water usage
It is important to encourage an energy-saving culture in the office as everyone working together creates an eco-friendly environment.
3. Encourage less travelling
Firms have widely endorsed hybrid and remote working since the start of the pandemic. This endorsement has gone a long way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as traditionally, workers commuting contributed substantially to a firm's carbon footprint.
Aim to continue promoting virtual meetings, hybrid or remote working where possible. This proactive reduction in your greenhouse gas emissions is a great climate change initiative that can be integrated into your business strategy.
If staff need to come into the office, encourage them to walk or cycle. One step further could be starting a walk or cycle-to-work scheme. In the same vein, carpooling is another option to present your staff with.
Offering staff some reward or bonus for using a green mode of transport such as walking, biking or using an electric car to work could also offer an incentive to be environmentally conscious.
4. Aim to go paperless
Another environmental initiative is moving away from paper and toward cloud storage. The demand for paper is a primary cause of deforestation, so making a conscious effort to eliminate paper usage will be impactful.
Instead of printing handbooks and manuals, upload these online where staff can access them. In the same vein, distribute any communication or documentation via email. This is a simple way of aiding your eco-efforts.
Storage, Point of sale (POS) systems and bookkeeping can all be securely carried out on the cloud, replacing the need for paper. Implement Document Management Systems (DMS) where all staff can access the documentation online, updates happen automatically, and no specialised equipment is required.
If your staff need to print, encourage printing on both sides of the paper and printing in black and white.
5. Think before you drink
The daily consumption of beverages has a significant impact on the environment. Coffee pods are a big contributor to plastic waste, which is why compostable pods are an eco-friendly alternative. Reusable coffee pods are also a good investment that you can fill with ground coffee which reduces your firm's waste.
Bottled water is another culprit for creating unnecessary plastic waste. Instead of purchasing bottled water for your office, invest in a water cooler or water filter jugs.
6. Keep sourcing local
All offices require supplies in some shape or form. Aim to source any supplies that your office needs locally. This reduces the environmental impact of items travelling long distances. Once again, this action reduces your firm's carbon emissions from operations which serves as an effective climate change initiative.
Apart from the eco-friendly element, this is also likely to cost your firm less and save you time. It is a simple yet significant way to show your commitment to protecting the environment.
ESG reporting made easy
With the increased interest from socially responsible investors, ESG reporting has gained popularity. However, the Companies Act 2006 refers to the importance of ESG in Section 172(1), which requires directors to "…have regard…to…(d) the impact of the company's operations on the community and the environment."
To help firms with ESG reporting, the London Stock Exchange (LSE) has issued guidance on best practices for ESG reporting. This guide offers recommendations on how to disclose information and is endorsed by the Principles of Responsible Investment(PRI).
As a final guide on reducing your environmental impact, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) designed ISO 14001. Getting ISO 14001 certified is a useful tool to add credibility to your firm by demonstrating that you meet the environmental protection expectations of your customers. Any business around the world can implement this framework.
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