More Suffolk businesses than ever before are making a clear and visible statement of their commitment to reducing environmental impacts. Small businesses in particular are showing exemplary efforts to make changes in the face of the climate emergency.
Accreditations awarded by the Carbon Charter, Suffolk’s hub for business sustainability, are at an all-time high, with 480 businesses now having gained the recognition. Carbon Charter certification has become the recognised mark of sustainable business in Suffolk.
Every business gaining the accreditation has adopted an active decarbonisation strategy, including a carbon management policy, environmental action plan and regular reporting of progress, and the majority can demonstrate significant carbon reductions.
Small and Medium businesses (SMEs) have an important role to play in sustainability, due to their significance to the UK economy. SMEs make up 99% of UK businesses and three-fifths of employment in the UK according to the National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses.
For businesses looking to kickstart their carbon reduction journey, the Carbon Charter has launched the ‘25 by 25’ campaign. The campaign prioritises the easy wins that will help Suffolk businesses to achieve a 25% reduction in their carbon emissions by 2025.
Businesses that pledge ‘25 by 25’ can access free net zero support delivered by Groundwork East, including carbon footprint, action plans and policy development, all of which are crucial steps towards lowering environmental impact and achieving net zero emissions.
One such business leaping down the path towards net zero is WHAT Associates, a small branding and creative agency in Ipswich. After making more sustainable choices in their own lives, Wendy and Tim, partner founders, wanted to understand how they can make changes in their business operations:
“We understand that a vital first step to becoming part of the solution to the climate crisis, not a contributor, is to understand our own impact, both on a personal level and as a business.”
“We are seriously concerned with how harmful climate change is for people and the planet and we have consciously committed to becoming more sustainable by educating ourselves and reaching out for expertise and support.”
Wendy and Tim have pledged for the Carbon Charter’s 25 by 25 campaign, and have since received the fully funded support to understand how and when they will be able to achieve net zero business operations.
“Where personal emission calculators and guidance are readily available free online, business resources are not. The 25 by 25 pledge has opened up a wealth of free support and guidance and has provided a vital step towards the intimidating goal of Net Zero.” says Wendy of WHAT Associates.
WHAT Associates were one of the expert panelists at the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Net Zero Conference on 25th May at Wherstead Park, Ipswich which attracted over 200 business representatives to an in-depth focus on how ‘25 by 25’ can be achieved.
The conference showcased the breadth of activity being led by businesses around net zero. Exhibitors showed off everything from cargo bikes to electric vans; solar panels to circular economy workwear.
John Dugmore, Chief Executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce says: “Suffolk’s small businesses are leading the way. They recognise that working towards net zero is now a ‘must do’ rather than a ‘nice to do’. As a result, businesses are looking for advice and support to help them work towards net zero. Suffolk Chamber is very pleased to work in partnership with the Carbon Charter to deliver some of that advice and support through the ’25 by 25’ campaign”.
The 25 by 25 campaign and business support have been funded by Suffolk’s Public Sector Leaders as part of Suffolk’s wider ambition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
Emissions from industrial and commercial sectors are a key focus of the Suffolk Climate Emergency Plan; a strategy agreed by all Suffolk’s local authorities to drive the county towards net zero.
Cllr Richard Rout, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance & Environment at Suffolk County Council, echoes the importance of supporting businesses on their journey to net zero: “All business owners are facing the same pressures – we know that they are thinking about the environmental impact of their operations, but we understand that it is considered an intimidating prospect and one that’s hard to navigate alone. That is why the 25 by 25 campaign and subsidised support is needed, to help make net zero an achievable ambition.”