Guide

Make your business more sustainable

Assess your environmental and social impacts

A strategic approach to sustainability should look at the full impact your business has on the environment and society. This includes:

  • your use of raw materials, water and other resources
  • your energy use and its impact on climate change
  • the waste and pollution your business produces
  • the impact your business has on your employees and the local, wider and international community

There are a number of techniques that you could use to assess your impacts - eg by carrying out an environmental review of your business.

You should take into account the impact your business has throughout the full life cycle of your goods or services, and across the whole supply chain. For example:

  • Do you source sustainable materials from suppliers who are committed to sustainable development?
  • Do your suppliers treat their employees fairly and ethically?
  • How much energy is used producing and delivering materials to you - and delivering products to your customers?
  • How are your products used and disposed of? Can your products and packaging be easily recycled or reused?

Think about life cycle opportunities offered by good ecodesign for goods and services.

You should look forward to anticipate how changing legislation and stakeholder requirements will affect you. Your suppliers and advisers can also help you keep up to date by identifying new, more sustainable technologies you can use. You may find that there are business growth opportunities by considering sustainable innovation.

Assessing the impact of your business in this way helps you identify the best opportunities to make improvements. For example, the best opportunity for a manufacturer might be through making more energy-efficient products - see how to develop and implement sustainability plans.