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Productivity Insight: 5 steps to net zero

Productivity Insight: 5 steps to net zero

5 easy steps towards net zero for your small business

The world is facing a Climate and Nature Emergency. Scotland’s national target is for net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045 to end our contribution to catastrophic climate change.

Every business in Scotland will have to play its part in helping us get there. Every business can make a difference – and every step could help your business.

SCDI’s ‘Change for Climate’ campaign has developed ideas and identified resources which can not only help your small business take its first steps towards net zero – but will also help you reduce costs,  and boost productivity.

In this blog, we review the 5 easy steps which you can take in your small business.

Good luck on your small business journey to net zero!

  1. Know your numbers

First things first, you need to know your numbers. You need to understand the carbon footprint of your business, its operations and its employees – including monitoring how much energy and water you use as well as how much waste you generate – to identify how you contribute to climate change and next steps you can take. It could also help you to increase efficiency, reduce costs and identify new opportunities for growth.

Who can help?

  1. Start with the basics

Once you know the carbon footprint of your business, starting with the basics can help you, your customers and your employees to make a real difference. Focus on practical, tangible and achievable steps to build confidence and momentum.

Make it easy for your visitors and staff to recycle and reduce waste. Start a cycle to work scheme or take the train to your next face-to-face meeting. Ask staff to switch off lights, machinery and equipment when they’re not in use. Explore how you can maximise energy efficiency and minimise your energy bills – like ThermaFY in Kelso.

Who can help?

  1. Switch to electric

Transport is the biggest contributor to Scotland’s carbon emissions, because of our reliance on cars, vans and lorries powered by petrol and diesel. By switching your company car or fleet to electric, you can significantly reduce your emissions and save a lot of money – like Glen Lyon Coffee in Aberfeldy.

Electric vehicles produce zero CO2 tailpipe emissions. The average range of an electric vehicle is 155 miles and charging costs less than half the price of diesel or petrol!

Who can help?

  1. Protect bees, plant trees!

Half of Scotland’s species are in decline, while 1 in 9 face national extinction. Your business can help by taking action to protect biodiversity – for example, by creating habitats for bees on your land, like Aldomak in Glasgow.

You can also offset unavoidable emissions with nature-based solutions which absorb and store carbon – like planting trees or restoring degraded peatlands.

Who can help?

  • Plan Bee help businesses to establish and manage honeybee hives
  • Trees for Life, a charity in the Highlands, can help your business to support biodiversity and carbon offsetting through tree planting and rewilding
  1. Go green with renewables

Powering your business with on-site renewable energy can be a significant up-front investment, but there are now lots of different (and increasingly affordable) options.

You could install solar panels on the roof of your factory or warehouse. You could build a wind turbine on your land – like Agrico on their farm in Angus. Or you could install a ground source heat pump for your home, office or shop.

  • Scottish Enterprise specialists can help you develop a sustainability planfor your business
  • Zero Waste Scotland‘s SME Loan Fund can finance the installation of heating renewables or energy efficiency measures


For more ideas and advice, check out SCDI’s ‘Change for Climate’ campaign: www.scdi.org.uk/net-zero/change-for-climate

This article was written by David Kelly, formerly Policy Manager at SCDI, is now Director for Scotland at the Community Transport Association

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