Designing your products and services so that they produce less carbon is not only good for the environment, it will also make them more appealing to more environmentally-aware customers.
It can also help your business to win contracts, such as government tenders, where the use of environmentally-aware suppliers is encouraged.
Low carbon goods and the product life-cycle
To make low carbon goods, you need to consider environmental impact at every stage of your product's life-cycle.
The stages to consider include:
- Raw materials - these must be fit for their purpose, but try sourcing suitable alternatives that are more carbon efficient.
- Manufacture - can you make your product more simply, cutting the amount and number of materials? Could your manufacturing be more efficient, reducing waste and energy consumption? Are there renewable power sources you can use or can you generate your own energy?
- Retail - can you cut the distance your products are transported for sale - reducing fuel use and freight costs? Can you minimise packaging to reduce transport costs and waste?
- Use - can you design your product so it lasts longer or can be more economically repaired? Can you provide better instructions for users so they get a longer life out of the product?
- End of life - when the end user has finished with the product, is it designed to be reused, eg in a secondary market? If that's not possible, can you design the product so it can be recycled?
You can calculate the carbon footprint of your products - and identify areas for improvement - using the environmental standard PAS 2050. There can be a real commercial advantage to adopting the standard, as it can help your customers to make more informed purchasing decisions.
Sourcing low carbon supplies and materials
Using suppliers of low-carbon products can have more benefits than just helping your business become more environmentally responsible. It can also show stakeholders - such as investors, employees and customers - that you are taking your environmental responsibilities seriously.
Even a simple step of buying products from local suppliers can cut down on the distance they are transported. Your local enterprise agency or trade association may also be able to help you find local suppliers of low carbon products.