UK sustainable business - Making progress but must try harder

By Dave Collier - 10 Oct 2011 14:44:0 GMT
UK sustainable business - Making progress but must try harder

Sustainable business via Shutterstock

With the British economy on shaky ground, many might assume that the concept of sustainable business practices might be put on the back burner.

A report from ENDS (Environmental Data Services) would suggest that this is not the case. While recent figures show some negative trends, the last five years have shown movement in the right direction.

The report is quick to identify possible reasons for the positive findings and describes the realisation by big business that being green can be profitable. It also suggests that, as tough economic situations bite into profits, companies looking to improve efficiency are noticing that these changes often go hand-in-hand with sustainability changes.

In particular resource usage is a key factor and businesses are looking for ways to expand without this increasing. Reducing water and fuel usage and decreasing the amount of waste generated by business activities helps both the planet and their bottom lines.

One of the statistics that might cause some alarm shows that UK carbon emissions (from sources covered by the EU emissions trading scheme) have increased by 2.4% this year. To help balance this unwelcome news, the report explains that this follows a dramatic drop of 12.5% in the previous year.

To give the figures more context, since 2005 (and the introduction of the EU emissions trading scheme) the overall change has been -2.1%. This is a poor result but at least it is a reduction rather than an increase.

The positive findings of the report include strong decreases in incidents of major pollution (-54% over 5 years) and hazardous waste (-44.3% over 5 years). It also shows very positive figures for environmental certification (+76.9%), reporting (+81.3%) and education (+33.6%).

These figures all remained positive over the last year in contrast to the tougher objectives such as carbon emission reduction and energy efficiency improvements.

It seems a shame that despite efforts to work towards a more sustainable future, the UK evidently needs to work harder to meet the targets that really matter.

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Topics: Sustainability