Sustainable business practices not just ‘nice to have’

Author: 
Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

“To create a truly sustainable economy, growth needs to be linked to positive impacts upon the environment and resources used, not only effectively but also intelligently”  This statement from the New Anglia LEP Green Economy Pathfinder manifesto is difficult to argue with it.

So why in the past has adopting sustainable business practices so often been viewed as a ‘nice to have’ or an ‘ideology’.  In 2013 this simply is not the case.  Sustainability is now seen as an efficiency driver, especially when expertise is effectively shared and businesses collaborate.  What is clear, is that if you want to save money and be more competitive, you have to engage with sustainability.

An effective transition to a sustainable economy will also boost economic recovery, create jobs, increase resource security and help make Norfolk more globally competitive.  Significant population growth, greater resource constraints and other global mega-trends are challenging business models throughout the economy.  The businesses that prepare for these events through innovation, communication and engagement will be the winners of the future.

The New Anglia Green Pathfinder report, relating to business resource efficiency, identified that low-cost and no-cost resource efficiency opportunities could generate savings of around £1.6bn in the New Anglia LEP area alone.  So if you are a business who feels that you are missing out, how do you get involved?

As when looking at any business practice you can take advantage of the knowledge of businesses that have already taken up the challenge and can demonstrate that it has made a difference to their bottom line.  For instance, local company Bernard Matthews and a keynote speaker at our sustainability conference next week is fast becoming one of the UK’s leading energy neutral businesses thanks to a broad range of green initiatives.  Local companies Greenright Homes and Muntons have both delivered real returns from embracing new technologies.

The government has recognized the need to support businesses in this area and there are currently opportunities to secure loans and grants to assist your businesses embrace new low carbon technologies.

There is no doubt that sustainability is a key factor in running a successful business.  Business leaders that rise to the challenge and lead the way in the development of low-carbon goods and services will help define the future success of the UK economy.

Norfolk has some of the UK’s most dynamic, innovative and sustainable businesses which are leading the way and it is important that all businesses review how they can embrace this agenda. 

I believe Mark Pendlington Group Director Anglian Water Group, who is also presenting at our sustainability conference on 9 May , sums it up well  “Business leaders that rise to the challenge and lead the way in the development of low-carbon goods and services will help define the future success of the UK economy.”

In these challenging economic times being resource efficient becomes increasingly important and so I would encourage all businesses to find out more, as being sustainable could really help your bottom line.

The Chamber's Sustainability 2013 conference takes palce on the 9th May

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