Less than a third of businesses have a Net Zero strategy

Business Insights

How prepared are UK businesses for Net Zero? According to research recently undertaken by Veolia and YouGov, only 29% of UK businesses have a Net Zero strategy in place.

Prioritising decarbonisation

Yet the results of the survey, which went out to just over 1,000 senior business decision makers in the UK, do show some positive indications that we are moving in the right direction. 52% of larger companies (with 250+ employees) already have a Net Zero strategy, with 80% of those feeling very confident that they will achieve their goals. In addition, 56% of those who have a strategy in place have set a dedicated budget for their decarbonisation activities. As the UK counts down to its Net Zero deadline of 2050, the pressure is mounting for all businesses and organisations to play their part.

Low confidence in low carbon plans

Despite some positive findings from the survey, there is clearly a lot of work to be done to make sure all businesses in the UK are on the road to Net Zero. In addition to the low number of companies who have a strategy in place, lack of confidence is a major barrier to decarbonisation, with 42% of businesses feeling overwhelmed by the steps they need to take to reach Net Zero. Many are aware of the pressure to take action on their business's carbon footprint, with 61% of larger companies feeling that their reputation would be negatively affected if they failed to commit to achieving their carbon targets. This pressure is exacerbated by consumers' increasing awareness of 'greenwashing', which can have a hugely detrimental effect on a company's public image.

What do we need to do now?

Though many businesses may be feeling overwhelmed by the thought of implementing a Net Zero strategy, now is the time to start assessing your current carbon footprint, and identifying where changes can start to be made - even small alterations. For some companies, the most daunting aspect of this process may be getting a clear picture of their current environmental performance. It's important to accurately measure emissions and resource use, ideally using a central reporting tool. Once you have the data, you can then create a strategy which is designed to decarbonise processes, reduce costs and mitigate climate impact.

A Net Zero strategy can encompass action plans across several areas:

  • Energy in particular can have a huge impact on both a company's carbon footprint and its finances, and is a key area on which to focus decarbonisation efforts. In the first instance, reducing consumption and improving energy efficiency are critical for reducing emissions, and can be aided by relatively small changes such as upgrading to LED lighting. Beyond that, introducing more sustainable energy options, for example heat pumps, enables you to reduce your carbon footprint whilst taking advantage of government funding.

  • By now, most of us are already aware of the negative environmental impact of our waste, and understand the importance of recycling. But is your business truly making the most of the opportunities in your waste? As well as increasing segregation of waste streams to reduce contamination and improve recycling rates, this could mean implementing a closed loop solution, whereby waste materials are turned into new resources. Moreover, focusing on reducing waste is the best place to start, to minimise consumption of resources and therefore the amount of waste produced.

  • Water usage accounts for 6% of carbon emissions in the UK, and is an area to consider as part of your decarbonisation plans, even though it may have been overlooked within your business previously. Again, reducing consumption is the crucial first step towards decarbonising. Monitoring your water usage can help you to identify areas for improvement, where you can then implement strategies to cut costs and carbon relating to water.

  • Scope 3 emissions - those generated by a business's value chain - are more than likely a significant contributor to your carbon footprint. They can come from distribution, essential services such as waste management, business travel and other indirect sources of carbon. Choosing sustainable suppliers has therefore never been more important. Although businesses are generally not required by law to report their scope 3 emissions, it's a necessary step towards understanding and then reducing your carbon footprint.

For those businesses who are lacking confidence when it comes to creating and implementing a Net Zero strategy, Veolia can act as a safe pair of hands on two levels: by supporting you to evaluate your current environmental performance and build a plan accordingly; and by providing low-carbon solutions which can help you to reach your decarbonisation targets.

Get in touch to find out how we can help your business reach Net Zero.