Opinion

Business sustainability – it’s a matter of choice

5 min read

15 June 2017

With pressure to cut costs, save time and generate profit, many business leaders still adopt a “stick to what I know mentality” for business sustainability.

A move for business sustainability on Saturday 1 April 2017 marked the opening of Britain’s non-domestic water market. This means that businesses throughout the country will be able to choose their water and wastewater supplier for the first time.

Arming businesses with this power to choose is certainly nothing new – the recycling market opened to choose some 30 years ago when commercial waste services were removed from business rates. 

However, this new milestone serves as a timely reminder of the momentum behind a democratised environment and energy market. Choice must continue to be given to businesses to ensure they truly become ‘planet savers’.

Business sustainability: The power of choice in recycling

Most business leaders are aware of the choice available to them when it comes to choosing waste management suppliers. However, in a recycling context, many businesses are experiencing the business sustainability “fear factor” – do they move away from council waste management services to a private partner and possibly risk onerous fines.

It’s understandable they’d be cautious about business sustainability; £500,000 of fines are issued to businesses in London every year just for putting waste out at the wrong time or in the wrong container! 

Complex contracts often deter businesses from changing their waste providers – this must change and be broken down, but this won’t happen overnight. With the pressure to cut costs, save time and generate a profit, many business leaders still adopt a “stick to what I know mentality” for business sustainability.

So, the first step in driving change is to change business sustainability mindsets. Recycling suppliers must be more aggressive in convincing businesses owners as to why their service is superior above the competition.

Business sustainability: The right to change

It is crucial that businesses understand that they have a right to change waste suppliers. It is not mandated that recycling must be collected by the council – they are free to choose the best service for their needs.

In the majority of cases, the more environmentally conscious provider offering the best service with the most convenient collection times is also more cost-effective compared to using the local council. 

A lot of investment has gone in behind the scenes to open this era of choice and competition but now it’s a case of bringing this to the forefront.

There is a strong case for the development of a waste collection provider index – a hub where businesses can visit to see the overall environmental score of a waste management company.

This would be a positive market move for businesses to align themselves with organisations they can be sure are delivering what they say they will deliver.

Transparency, we would argue, is the surest way to get around the lack of understanding related to what does and doesn’t get recycled. Populated with facts and testimonials, such an index could help businesses to have a greater understanding of the options available to them.

Business sustainability: The power to switch

It’s critical to ensure companies aren’t blindly signing up to companies with old polluting, and potentially dangerous, trucks. Most importantly, it’s about giving businesses a choice – an option to switch easily and cost efficiently. 

For businesses, it means they have the power to switch to become a planet, as well as a pocket, saver.

The mayor of London is currently driving an “open for business” campaign. Waste suppliers and environmental companies need to push this mantra more heavily in the coming years for business sustainability. 

They need to take their environmental stewardship and publicise the depth of their offering and how they can help UK businesses address the triple bottom line.