15.7.2021

Business Sustainability Strategies

Written by Aine Hendron

environment

All businesses need a strategy to attract investment. Having a business sustainability strategy also helps companies set and reach tangible goals: expansion, financial prosperity, public awareness and support, and possibly humanitarian objectives.

Oftentimes, very few of the people who are involved in setting a strategy to make the business more sustainable are also involved in creating the long-term business strategy. Fewer still have experience using mainstream business management tools and processes for analysis. So despite efforts to become more sustainable, these initiatives remain a secondary, or parallel, issue within a company’s strategic direction [1].

What is a sustainable business strategy?

A sustainability strategy should be long-term. While every small action moves a business in the right direction, there should be larger goals to make a wider and lasting impact over time. 

Delivering a business sustainability strategy requires the following core elements:

  • Investigate waste trends in your industry, and understand the global and local sustainability issues that impact your organisation. Look for steps that you can take immediately, and those which require long-term rollout. 
  • Visualise your company’s goals for sustainability. What would you like to achieve?
  • Plan the actionable steps necessary to bring this plan to fruition. 
  • Set a timescale. 
  • Communicate your goals and the plan in place to achieve them. Share it with the public, perhaps even update your mission statement to include it.

Sustainability  ideas for businesses

In many countries, undertaking an energy audit is mandatory for medium-large businesses, however, they can also be done voluntarily [2]. It’s a good place to begin, even if your business is required by law. A commercial energy audit can assist your business in the reduction of both energy costs and consumption, so it is a natural first step for those wishing to set a business sustainability strategy. 

Business energy audits generally include:

  • Gas and electricity tariff reviews
  • Water tariff reviews
  • Business consumption analysis and recommendations
  • Expert energy management advice
  • Energy contract management

Partner with employees

Be honest about the environmental impact that your company has. It may seem insignificant in small businesses, but over time, all these little things add up. 

As the people on the ground, employees see where waste occurs first hand. Become environmentally friendly from the bottom up and include employees in the thinking process of your sustainability plan to gather applicable ideas. 

One example of a resourceful employee is a manager of a retail store who notices that the vending machines in the employee break rooms had lights that ran all the time, even though employees could clearly see the products inside without them. The company turned off the vending machine lights in all break areas and saved more than $1 million a year in electricity costs. 

Company initiatives

Encourage your employees to take part in more sustainable activities both at work and on their commute. Transport accounts for 28% of the average person’s carbon emissions [3], so organising more sustainable travel options is a good place to start for businesses. 

This might include taking part in the Cycle to Work Scheme, or encourage car sharing. If you have a large workforce who work shifts, organise transport for them, such as a bus that arrives and departs at an agreed time and place. 

Focus on the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Recycling and composting bins should be placed alongside general waste bins and clearly marked for employees. Having a designated member of staff to take on the responsibility of ensuring these bins are being used correctly could encourage better participation. 

Go digital and paperless

Of the 11 billion receipts printed annually, nearly 9.9 billion are wasted. That’s the equivalent of 53,000 trees going straight in the garbage! [4] While it’s an incredibly sad statistic, it’s good to know that this type of waste is completely avoidable. 

Digital Receipts 

Email receipts are gradually replacing physical receipts in the retail sector. This benefits the merchant (whose till-roll bill should dramatically decrease) by adding a new layer of convenience for customers. It’s also much better for the environment. Everybody wins. 

Epos Now’s point of sale system allows retailers to send receipts straight to their customers’ digital mailbox. What’s more, with digital receipts, you can use customer contact details to grow your email marketing list. 

Kitchen Display Screens (KDS)

KDS are an excellent alternative to paper kitchen dockets. This solves a lot of issues faced in restaurants, such as order slips going missing, or an order amendment slip going unseen. KDS increase organisation and allow staff to serve and recall orders when necessary. KDS screens link to your point of sale so that orders are updated in real-time, and communications between front and back of house are simplified.

Invest in environmentally friendly utilities

Water and electricity waste not only increase the price of your bills, but have an extremely negative environmental impact. Invest in utilities that reduce waste in both customer and staff areas. Some ideas include:

  • Sensor lights that turn on when they detect movement
  • Energy-saving LED lightbulbs
  • Automatic water taps which turn off after a certain period of time 
  • Water-efficient items - toilets, dishwashers etc
  • Energy-efficient electrical equipment - hand dryers, kitchen appliances
  • Solar water heaters
  • More sustainable air conditioning and heating systems 
  • Double or triple glazed windows
  • Automatic soap/product dispensers

Cut waste and use greener alternatives

Some businesses can’t completely stop using disposable items for hygienic reasons, and because it makes their products less accessible to customers. For example, asking food trucks to do away with disposable cutlery isn’t realistic, as it’ll deter customers. However, there are alternatives:

  • Wooden disposable cutlery rather than plastic.
  • Use paper/cardboard containers instead of plastic for take-out.
  • Replace disposable plastic bags with biodegradable bags, or fabric bags.
  • Swap hard plastic for glass, metal, or wood.
  • Stop using bin liners, opt for metal bins that can simply be emptied directly and cleaned.
  • Replace plastic straws with paper straws, or remove the use of straws altogether by using sippy cup lids, as Starbucks UK has done with certain drinks.
  • Use less harsh cleaning chemicals, and dispose of chemicals responsibly.
  • Product dispensers that measure and dispense a set amount of product - particularly useful in food businesses where sauces/toppings are usually measured free-hand. 

Epos Now have a waste management system as part of their stock and inventory software. Recipes can be stored with exact amounts of how much ingredient is used per recipe. With every sale, the exact quantity of ingredients required, according to the recipe, are automatically deducted from the master inventory levels. This allows businesses to keep a very close eye on where there is waste, and compare projected use to actual use, then make changes. 

Build a more sustainable restaurant with Epos Now

Your point of sale system is central to your business’ ongoing success and ensuring that you run a more efficient and sustainable business. With a modern POS system, you can do all of the following: 

  • Offer delivery, takeout, and at-table ordering services
  • Connect with 100+ apps to assist with key business functions like marketing, customer loyalty, digital receipts, accounting
  • Accept credit, debit, gift cards, and contactless payments
  • Manage your business from anywhere with 24/7 cloud access

Epos Now software is industry-specific for a truly optimised experience for both retail and hospitality businesses.

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