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As the country looks to bounce back from Covid-19, there is no doubt businesses who specialise in sustainable and environmentally friendly products will help provide the green-shoots of economic recovery.

How to supercharge this green-revolution was therefore one of the biggest topics on the agenda for world leaders at the recent G7 summit in Cornwall.

The UK Government has already set ambitious targets.

Last year, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £3bn package of measures which aims to create thousands of ‘green jobs’.

Ministers predict that over the next 30 years, green and eco-friendly businesses will make up 13% of our total GDP - compared to just 2% now.

This is based on projections which show consumers are increasingly wanting to shop in a more eco-friendly way.

In fact, some studies have shown households would be willing to spend up to £3,654 a year more on products they knew were environmentally friendly.

For businesses of all shapes and sizes then, whether they are at the very start of their life-cycle or many years into their development, the takeaway message from this is clear. Sustainability needs to be at the forefront of your mind right now and long into the future.

With potential investors now increasingly insisting on seeing evidence of a business’ commitment to the environment as part of an investment pitch, getting your green-credentials in place can be vital for growth too.

Harper James Solicitors, who specialise in supporting a number of businesses who are succeeding in the green economy, have now released a special report on this issue.

Below, three businesses explain how they’ve found success, how Harper James Solicitors have helped them along the way and what they’d like to see politicians deliver on.

Toby Harper, CEO of Harper James Solicitors, said: “Businesses of all sizes are increasingly looking to operate in a more sustainable way and ensure their products and services are eco-friendly. We now need to see government policies which reward and encourage this.

XEROE provides deliveries with a difference.

Through a fleet of bicycles, cargo bikes, electric mopeds and vans, the distribution specialists are at the forefront of providing sustainable, 100% emission-free deliveries across the UK.

In the past 15 months, when city centre B2B demand collapsed, Xeroe pivoted to direct customer deliveries. Fuelled by a lockdown which closed many retailers, they then trebled their number of deliveries in six months. Although London-based, Xeroe opened in Bristol in April and will expand to three other cities later this year.

Commenting on their success, founder Steve Evans said: “My advice to anyone entering the sector is to aim to start quickly. Don’t wait until everything is perfect. There is no doubt the market we are in is growing very quickly. This is because consumers, investors and staff all want to buy from, invest in and work for sustainably-minded companies.”

Like many business owners, Steve was keeping a close eye on the outcome of the G7 talks in Cornwall. There are many areas he believes the Government can provide further support in.

“I’d like to see Ministers commit to creating a vehicle charging infrastructure. It is way behind demand right now and will slow the uptake of electric vehicles. Ministers could also do more to help councils face down local opposition to implementing clean air zones by making them a mandatory legal requirement. All the political leaders at G7 will have ordered something online. My message to them is if they were presented with an option to pay a little more for an emission free delivery then they should take it and encourage and reward others who do the same.”

Twipes, who make flushable and biodegradable wet wipes, put sustainability and the environment at the heart of their business.

With the UK using billions of wet wipes a year, Twipes have created a product which reduces the harm they cause.

The pandemic created huge challenges for the business. The firm’s overseas supplier had to close-down but, on the plus side, it led to Twipes finding a UK-supplier, thus further helping reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

They have also partnered with a group called We Do Ethical and plant a tree for every five packs of wipes they sell to help offset their CO2 footprint. Twipes also made their manufacturing process less carbon-heavy by onshoring and supporting a local manufacturer.

Elle McIntosh, Twipes co-founder and the rest of the team are now looking firmly to the future.

Elizabeth Kotoulis, head of product at Twipes, said: “In the next three years we’re hoping to expand our line of products, making specialised wipes, including antiviral and body wipes. We’re aiming to go into R&D to develop more single-use sanitary products from our dispersion technology, potentially in nappies and feminine hygiene products.

“If I could offer any advice to businesses working in this sector, it is that there will always be pitfalls and risks that don’t pan out. You have got to keep on pushing through.

“I think green businesses will provide the key to the recovery of the economy post Covid. The pandemic created a need for mass amounts of plastic PPE and set back so much progress on reducing plastic usage. Green businesses are critical to answering the planet’s cry for help at a time when we’re worse off than ever before in terms of plastic pollution. Renewable green alternatives to single-use options are definitely growing the fastest – things like compostable cutlery or reusable bags, these are becoming the standard in many cities.  The days of single use plastic aren’t quite done with, with the pandemic and PPE still being prevalent. We believe there will be a shift in the industry calling for reusable or recyclable products and a hard push for biodegradable offerings.”

Elizabeth is supportive of steps the Government is taking.

She says: “The UK government is considering banning plastic and non-flushable wet wipes, and more stringent rules are being put in place for labelling them as such, so we can see positive movement toward products like ours. We need innovative ideas to upset the status quo and find solutions to the outdated products and practices we’ve been forced to accept.”

 

Trying to sustain an events business in the midst of a global pandemic is hard enough. But Neutrino Global has achieved this while also remaining true to a commitment to run an eco-friendly enterprise. They have developed an industry-first widescreen eco-projection frame system for live indoor events. They also source services locally and run a completely paper-free business. Co-founder Adam Taylor said: “For us being eco-friendly and competitive is the key. And you can do both.”

Adam says the recent G7 summit came at a time when businesses are thinking about sustainability more than ever. “Businesses just want political leaders to deliver policies that match their own commitment to being eco-friendly.

“Businesses are making more and more informed decisions now around their supplier network,” he said. “And consumers care about their own impact on the environment. New tech will also play a fundamental part. Events, the space we exist in, will always creatively utilise the latest and greatest trends in technology.”

 Key takeaways:

  • There is an increasing desire amongst consumers, investors and staff to buy from, invest in and work for sustainably minded companies.
  • Over the next three decades, eco-friendly businesses are predicted to make up 13% of GDP.
  • Households would be willing to spend an additional £3,654 per year to ensure products were environmentally sound.

Want to make your business more sustainable? Find the information and support you need on the UMi platfrom: https://www.weareumi.co.uk/webapp/

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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