Adopting Sustainable Practices in Your Workplace

With an increasing market and public focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, many businesses and individuals want to be assured that the travel agent or tour operator they are contracting with is implementing sustainable practices. Below we provide some ways in which this objective can be achieved.

Within the last few years, there has been a growing awareness and emphasis on ESG issues; this can be seen from multi-national businesses to the average member of the public. This article will focus on the ‘E’ (environmental) aspect of ESG issues.

If this is not already the case, it is likely that businesses will receive increasing requests for a copy of its sustainability policy. This could be from suppliers, who have made commitments to only contract with businesses that have made pledges to be more sustainable; or from customers, who are making more of a conscious effort to exclusively part cash with sustainability minded businesses.

Here are 5 practices your business could adopt and include within a relevant policy, to be more sustainable:

  1. Monitoring and limiting the amount of paper used.

This can involve reducing the number of emails that are printed or alternatively, refraining from printing all emails and adopting a paper-less or paper-light model. Moreover, where printing is necessary, pages could be printed double sided, thereby limiting the number of sheets of paper used.

  1. Encouraging sustainable forms of travel to work.

Instead of driving to work, staff can be encouraged to walk, cycle or use public transport for their daily commute. The best way to encourage staff to make this change is to provide a financial incentive. This can be done by implementing a cycle to work scheme or salary sacrifice arrangement for travel season tickets.

  1. Training staff on how to be more sustainable.

Training can be given on how staff can help the business achieve its sustainability goals. Such training could cover matters addressed in this article, as well as to provide reminders to turn off computers and monitors at the end of the working day.

  1. Reducing the amount of single use plastic.

This can be achieved by, for example, only using office supply companies that have cut out or significantly reduced, their use of single use plastic in their packaging.

  1. Monitoring and reducing your use of energy and natural resources.

During the winter, steps could be taken to monitor the number of hours the heating is on in the office and what temperature the thermostat has been set to. Whereas in the summer, this could involve monitoring the use of air-conditioning and adopting alternative measures to cool the office.

Finally, it would be remiss to say that it is important that a company actually implements the items set out in its sustainability policy. Since the summer of 2022, there has been a keen regulatory focus on what has been termed ‘greenwashing’. This is when an individual or company makes an unsubstantiated claim that deceives consumers into believing that its products or services are environmentally friendly, or have a greater positive environmental impact than they actually do.

A high profile example of a greenwashing investigation was the announcement of action by the Advertising Standards Authority in October 2022, against HSBC UK Bank plc for what were deemed to be greenwashing adverts it had made.

Although it is unlikely that a company not observing items in its sustainability policy will receive significant media or public criticism, it could still have a negative public relations impact, which could have been avoided. It is therefore advisable to limit aims in a sustainability policy to what the company can achieve and to put measures in place to ensure its compliance by staff.

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If you have any queries about anything in this article, or would like a sustainability policy prepared for your company, please contact Claire Ingleby (claire.ingleby@mb-law.co.uk).

Please note this information is for general guidance only and is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.

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