The Prince’s Mayday Network, the UK's largest group of businesses committed to taking action on climate change set up by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2007, is reporting an increase in UK businesses seeking a more sustainable future.
The network, which offers businesses easy-to-implement advice and the opportunity to participate in workshops, webinars and other events to help their business grow in a sustainable way, reports an 87% growth in members in the last 12 months.
According to programme organisers, 57% of new members are small and micro businesses, 21% from large and 14% from medium sized companies.
There has been a huge rise in number of small and micro businesses joining the Network in the past year. Such businesses often have limited resources to commit to sustainability and environmental issues and therefore can get the required support to embark on a low carbon journey for the first time.
Prior to this year many of the UK’s largest companies were already members of the network including M&S, Alliance Boots, Lloyds Banking Group, EDF Energy - all of whom are also sponsors of the Network. Other large companies in the Network are 3i, Nestle, DLA Piper, National Grid, Sainsbury’s, Rothschild, BT and BSkyB.
To date, the Mayday Network’s top business sectors are marketing and media, environmental, construction, legal, education and food and beverage.
The Mayday Network collaborates with sector initiatives to offer specific industry support and inspire them to work together towards a sustainable future including The Marketing Society to develop their low carbon initiative called The Marketing Society Mayday Alliance, conceived an initiative called the Legal Sector Alliance which uniquely focuses on reducing the environmental impacts of the legal profession and have also worked closely with the property sector via the Carbon Consensus which is a a set of 5 principles developed by organisations involved in major property development.
Katie Webber, The Princes’ Mayday Network Campaign Director explained: “Copenhagen and ‘climategate’ could have taken climate change issues in a different direction. However, what we’re seeing is more and more SME’s who desire a sustainable future and view it as their responsibility and an opportunity for their business, which in turn helps them to increase their productivity and revenue, and create a happier workforce.
“Our mission is to inspire UK businesses from all sizes and sectors; from the very smallest to the largest members in our network like Alliance Boots, BT, Cadburys and Marks & Spencer, to take early action. Mayday’s annual report, which will be published in September, will demonstrate a significant trend towards businesses desiring a more sustainable future.”
SME Calpor Farm, an 800 acre family owned farm in Herefordshire, decided to join The Princes’ Mayday Network to start their journey towards a sustainable future.
Caplor Farm decided to measure its footprint properly for the first time in 2010. Caplor’s previous carbon footprints were measured using generic calculators that were not relevant to their operations.
A placement with a university student provided them with a flexible and cost effective method to begin to measure. He identified that the Carbon Accounting for Land Manager (CALM) Calculator was the most effective calculator for their needs. All information is saved online which allows for in house staff to take over the reporting process with ease.
Once Caplor Farm had measured their carbon footprint they set to work seeking ways to reduce it.
Their reduction activities already included emphasising grass-fed livestock and investing in more fuel-efficient tractors and larger machinery. However having a more accurate carbon footprint gave them the drive to reduce throughout all areas of the business and they have since acquired a solar hot water system and replaced inorganic fertilizer with local manure supply.
Caplor Farm is confident that when they report in 2011 they will have reduced the carbon intensity of their operations and are on their way to cost efficiency even as their business operation grows.
The business measured their footprint at the end of the financial year which meant they had all the necessary information at their fingertips.
Being a part of the Mayday Network and their requirement for an annual report-back helped Caplor Farm to focus their activities and provide accountability.
Using a carbon calculator specific to their industry meant that it accounted for all the variables that a generic calculator didn’t, ensuring that their footprint was as accurate as possible.
To help SMEs start their journey towards a sustainable future, The Princes’ Mayday Network recommends businesses progress along the steps of the Mayday Journey:
1. Measure and Report – The first step in the Mayday Journey is to understand what carbon emissions are, how much carbon your business emits and where it is coming from.
2. Manage - To manage carbon emissions, use a 5 step approach. This approach covers the key steps for a standard Environmental Management System.
* Make a business-wide commitment that starts at the top
* Set a baseline
* Set objectives & targets
* Set up an action plan
* Monitor and review your carbon management systems
3. Reduce - Reduction activities cover four key areas, energy, transport, waste and water and the possibility of buying or generating renewable energy.
Here are some quick tips on how to reduce across all areas:
Energy - Switch off lights when not needed. Make sure exterior lighting is only switched on at night (if required). Changing lightbulbs will save energy and money.
Transport – Work at Home & Telecommute: make it a policy to invest in video-conferencing and other technological solutions that can reduce the amount of employee travel. If businesses could allow their employees to work at home for one day a week the collective reduction in carbon emissions would be huge.
Waste - avoid buying non-essential items and items with excess packaging. Reusing items for as long as possible (such as plastic bags) also helps keep waste down. If things have to be disposed of then recycling is a better option than landfill.
Water - Processing and delivering water in the UK accounts for 2-3% of the country’s total electricity use. Reducing water-use does not only reduce carbon emissions and protect supplies to meet current and future demand, it is also an easy way to save money and to reduce risk to your business from water scarcity.
4. Engage- Extend actions wider by mobilising stakeholders; employees, customers and suppliers, to reduce their carbon emissions.
Employees - Ask your team for ideas for reducing carbon throughout your operations. Incentives such as offering bonuses for eco-ideas that save the company money can help speed innovations.
You could even go the whole hog and start an internal carbon trading platform like WSP. Involving your team from the start will gain buy-in from them making the long term success of your plans more likely to work out. It can also improve staff morale; people are happy when they feel like they are making a difference. This also increases the chances that staff will implement these kinds of changes at home… which is good for everyone.
Suppliers - Consider targeting your top 10 suppliers by turnover. This often is the easiest way to make large cuts in total supply chain emissions. But remember to look at it from an environmental perspective as well - the products / services with the highest environmental impact may not be in your top spend yet are where you can make the biggest difference.
Customers - By raising awareness of climate change and offering low carbon products and services and other incentives to change behaviours, businesses can extend the reach of their climate change activities and access new of markets.
Transform - Transforming your company to be sustainable ensures it will still be of value tomorrow. Transformation requires adapting to a changing world and innovating for new markets.