Going for Green: How businesses in Portsmouth can become more sustainable

THERE is a lot of discussion around what we can all do individually to help tackle climate change.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 7:00 am
Portsmouth Picture: Shaun Roster

Whether it’s using the car less, recycling more or adding greenery to your home or garden.

But a lot of us spend the majority of our week at work - so why should businesses be exempt from trying to make a difference?

In fact UK industry and businesses account for 37 per cent of our total CO2 emissions.

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32 per cent of emissions in Portsmouth are produced by businesses. Picture: John Giles/PA Wire

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It is argued that we can’t get to net zero unless reducing carbon emissions becomes a central criteria within the business community.

In Portsmouth alone 267,400 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) was emitted by industry and commerce in 2019 - which was 32 per cent of the city’s emissions overall.

This is something the Portsmouth Climate Action Board is looking to face head on, with support on offer for local businesses of all sizes to help them make a difference.

Chief executive of Shaping Portsmouth, Stef Nienaltowski, which wants to help businesses become more sustainable

Nick Sebley, from the board, said: ‘Industry and business play an important role in addressing climate change. In 2018 a third of the city's carbon emissions came directly from business and industry. However, businesses also have a huge influence over the entire city's emissions.

‘This can be from their fleet of vehicles, staff commuting or how they encourage their customers to travel. For instance, the majority of new cars purchased in 2019 were registered for business use, and thousands of cars on our roads every morning are linked to business and commuting.

‘An indifferent attitude to climate change is becoming increasingly costly, both socially and economically. The majority of customers are now actively considering the climate credentials of businesses. In Portsmouth 89 per cent of residents think local businesses have a responsibility to address issues around climate change.’

To take the first step into making a difference the board has created a carbon audit tailored for small businesses.

Portsmouth business Anglepoise makes products 'to last a lifetime' and has recently cut its plastic waste by 70 per cent.

The board will then showcase and promote the climate action taken by local businesses and produce an accredited sticker to place in shop windows and feature on websites.It is also offering free carbon literacy courses to help businesses understand what they can do.

For more information on either you can contact them at [email protected]

A group that is working to grow local businesses, while helping them reduce their carbon emission with the Climate Action Board, is Shaping Portsmouth.

The company currently has 803 businesses, 650 local ambassadors and 175 active volunteers working with them.

Portsmouth business Anglepoise makes products 'to last a lifetime' and has recently cut its plastic waste by 70 per cent. Pictured: Simon Terry, joint managing director.

Stef Nienaltowski, the chief executive officer, said: ‘Shaping Portsmouth is proud to be part of the Portsmouth Climate Action Board and the objective we, Shaping. have is to get the city businesses connected with the key carbon reduction targets we have set ourselves.

‘The team behind the Climate Action Board have developed a simple pledge that a businesses would sign that demonstrates their commitment to the campaign. There is now a tool kit available from the board website that will help each business focus on their areas of carbon production and show them what they are producing.

‘Whilst the majority of our carbon is generated from housing, the reductions we can achieve from our businesses sector can be a significant contribution in the city's pursuit of carbon neutrality by 2030.

‘It is a responsible approach for us all to reduce as much as we can the amount of these types of elements we are producing and the support each business will get from their employees will further connect the whole company.’

One company that has put sustainability at the heart of what it does, before the conversation around climate change had even started, is Portsmouth-based Anglepoise.

Going for Green

The family-run lamp and lighting fixture company was established in the 1930s and has always made products to ‘last a lifetime.’

Joint managing director, Simon Terry, said: ‘Our ethos has always been to design and make products that last a lifetime and beyond but we felt it was time to support these actions with an official lifetime guarantee. No product should be designed or destined for landfill: every product we make should be repairable and adjustable.’

However, the company is expanding its efforts in sustainability.

Mr Terry added: ‘Over the last year we have refocused our efforts to look at spares for older products and how we can do more. Not only has this saved lamps from being thrown away, it has also helped us understand what people want. It has informed the development of a new rewire kit and – watch this space – an official Anglepoise rewire service.

‘We have also started to work with A Plastic Planet to become plastic free. Months of auditing our plastic use in the office, warehouse, production areas, products and packaging has produced a great deal of data.

‘This tells us, amongst other things, that if you spread out the plastic we use in a year (in a film of 1,000 microns or less) the area would be the size of 285 tennis courts. Or if you were to make this a roll of plastic one metre wide the distance would go around the perimeter of Portsea Island 2.6 times.

‘I was a little shocked about how much plastic this is. However, the good news is we have already reduced this by approximately 70 per cent - that’s down to 85 tennis courts - a year.

‘While this is a great start, we still have a long way to go.’

If you’re a business looking to find out more about reducing your carbon footprint visit portsmouthclimateaction.org.uk/get-involved.


What does Net Zero look like for businesses?

The path to Net Zero will look different for every organisation. Therefore, a robust strategy for Net Zero is one that is well-informed of your business priorities, stakeholder inputs and the risks and opportunities that climate change poses to your unique business.

Senior management must be on board, ideally driving forward the objective. It will be impossible to achieve the change required without full buy-in from the business and an alignment with the overall business strategy. Your C-Suite needs to be championing your commitment to make it work.

It must be underpinned by robust systems for data collection, monitoring and reporting. Without this, your ability to credibly report your emissions, your target and manage the increasing demands for transparency will be severely challenged.

Reaching net zero emissions will need an action plan to reach the target, taking into account projected business growth, all planned and potential reduction initiatives as well as an understanding of the financial investment required to activate change in your organisation.

Make a commitment – the more of us that do, the more we can start to collectively activate change and make the global goal achievable. It will also continue to send a message to governments that this is an important priority for business and we need their collaboration.

Get your fundamentals (data) right – Whether it is measuring your emissions, setting targets or reporting, good data and systems in our experience are crucial. Make sure you have a good system and evaluate your internal processes for possible improvements.

Start engaging your stakeholders and collaborating – You need to understand, listen to and incentivise your stakeholders as you will need them to help you to achieve your targets and affect change. You are not alone in grappling with the challenges, look to industry groups and corporate sustainability experts to access information, and join the conversation.

Seek out opportunities in change – Consumers and clients as well as internal stakeholders are looking for answers to help them be more sustainable. There are new markets and opportunities to be explored. This will be an enormous driver for innovation and transformational change. There are also savings to be made in better efficiency, and reputational advantages to showing proactivity and stepping ahead on the journey.


What you can do as a business

Small businesses: audit your carbon emissions

Apply for a simple toolkit from the Climate Action Board. To find out more email [email protected]

Large employers: Measure your CO2 via the Carbon Disclosure Project

Where does your company’s CO2 come from? If you are a large employer the Carbon Disclosure Project can help you understand where the majority of your emissions are generated. Get support to green your business

If you are a boss or senior manager and would like to get advice and support on how to make your business more carbon-neutral contact Greentech South.They can offer free energy efficiency audits for your business, energy efficiency grants, research and innovation grants, access to postgraduate student projects and Innovation support and networking events.

The Carbon Trust’s sector-specific guides also offer practical advice on how to become energy efficient and cut down carbon for your business sector.

Get support for sustainable travel

If you work for, or are a senior manager at a business in the Solent area, you can get support to make your business and staff travel more sustainable from My Journey, a collaboration of Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire County Council and Southampton City Council.

They can offer £5,000 match funding grant for sustainable travel investment and audits for your site, support for creating sustainable travel policies and frameworks, Events to encourage and support staff active travel and sustainable travel mapping and advice.

Help your employees become carbon literate

Learn more about how our everyday business decisions are generating CO2 and affecting the world right now. Contact the board on [email protected] to get a free course tailor-made for your sector or organisation.

For organisations looking for help with staff training and education, take a look at the Carbon Trust's resources on employee awareness.

Sponsor a tiny forest

A tiny forest is made by planting a wide variety of species very close together to recreate the layers of a natural forest. These forests absorb a lot more carbon than usual woods and can be as small as a tennis court so are ideal for cities with little space. Many companies are now sponsoring the planting of these forests: email [email protected] to find out more.

Switch to an ethical bank

Switch your account to a bank that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels or ecological destruction at switchit.money.

Switch to a renewable energy supplier

If you choose the right supplier this can fund new solar and wind farms. Do this via Big Clean Switch.