THE PATH TO A PLANET-FRIENDLY BUSINESS

 

Your customers are worried about the impacts of climate change, with many believing that Australia should be a world leader on climate action.

 

 

People are making purchasing decisions based on the green credentials of a business and its products. Every business should now be examining how it can contribute to a more sustainable future, or be left in the dust of competitors who have their fingers on the pulse of consumer sentiment.

Legislation is pushing some areas of retail into better practices – such as the phasing out of single use plastic bags and major retailers, including Coles and Woolworths, have signed on to the ANZPAC plastics pact, committing to reduce their plastic use by 2025.

Where many small businesses would struggle to make significant changes, the franchising sector, because of the scale it can apply, is ideally placed to play a big role in helping thousands of small businesses become more environmentally sustainable, and thereby have a meaningful impact on the future of our planet.

It’s important to keep in mind that while a sustainability program will probably require some initial financial outlay, there are savings to be made long term by pursuing a more efficient, less wasteful business model. While the measures that can be taken vary from industry to industry, there are some common areas that franchisees can address:

Start with a sustainability policy

It’s important to articulate your goals in this area. Your policy should describe your commitment to reducing your carbon footprint, decreasing waste and increasing sustainability.

Questions to consider are:

• How do you plan to reduce your environmental impact?

• How will you measure this?

• How will you meet current and foreshadowed government environmental impact policies?

• How will you continually improve your sustainability performance?

• How will you manage and communicate your policy?

Put some deadlines around your goals to provide immediacy, and look to review and update the policy regularly.

Make your commitment public. Ensure your franchisees and their teams are onboard with your goals and committed to the actions they need to take to make it work. Publish your policy(s) on your website. Display environmentally friendly signage, telling customers of your commitment to the environment.

Some of your customers may require details of your policy to help them meet their own sustainability goals.

Packaging

Whether it’s take-away food containers, coffee cups, drink containers, hair products – whatever packaging you use – aim to make 100% of your packaging reusable, recyclable, biodegradable or compostable.

Are your products over-packaged? Do they need to be packaged in plastic for example, or can you turn to a more sustainable material?

Look for Australian packaging suppliers who are focussing on providing innovative packaging that is environmentally friendly.

By sourcing your packaging locally, you are reducing the emissions created by shipping or flying your packaging across the world.

Recycling

Set up programs to help franchisees reduce and recycle waste – whether that’s food waste, paper products or plastics, for example.

Businesses are constantly turning over mobile phones, computers, visual displays and other electronic equipment. Put in place procedures to ensure that these are given a second life – and not put out on hard waste.

Travel

Have a policy that when it’s time to replace business vehicles, you examine the options of purchasing electric or hybrid models.

Consider video-conferencing rather than driving or flying to a meeting.

Encourage allowing staff to work from home occasionally (if their job permits), as this will help keep cars (and their emissions) off the road.

Innovation

Research what businesses, in your sector, are doing overseas in this space. The 2020 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), while not giving any country a top three ranking (because they judged that no country was doing enough to prevent climate change), ranked Sweden 4th, UK 5th and Denmark 6th (Australia ranked 54th). Look at practices in these countries to see how they are achieving their goals.

Investigate whether you can replace some chemical ingredients in your product with natural sustainable ones. Ask the hard questions of your suppliers? Are your ingredients ethically sourced? Are they causing ecological damage? For instance, palm oil plantations in some countries are responsible for forcing orangutans from their homes.

Be authentic in your approach

While consumers are actively seeking out businesses who are working to reduce their environmental footprint, they also have highly attuned antennae for those businesses who aren’t showing an authentic commitment. It’s not enough to say you are doing something: you need to be demonstrating it.

With President Joe Biden’s commitment to halting climate change, the rate at which the world acts is going to accelerate. There have been some significant initiatives taken by state governments, local councils and big business. Franchising is big business and because of its unique structure, it has the .opportunity to make a difference at a micro level

 

Reducing the carbon footprint at every workplace

There are so many measures that individual franchisees can do in their workplaces to reduce their carbon footprint. Provide them with suggestions, guidelines and where possible, solutions.

Some suggestions are:

• Investigate whether solar panels can be fitted to the business premise.

• Buy green energy.

• Install energy efficient lighting (eg LED), switch off lighting when not necessary – automatic sensors are great for areas that aren’t used a lot.

• Insulate the workplace as much as possible. Window tinting that helps regulate temperature, sealing gaps under doors and in floorboards.

• Turn off as much energy consuming equipment as possible, out of hours.

• Heating and cooling shouldn’t be set and forget. Override and turn off when it’s a long holiday, during lockdowns etc. Look at the temperature settings, can they be tweaked a little to be more efficient?

• When replacing equipment look for five star energy options.

• Consider appointing a “Green Team” to investigate, implement and follow up on sustainable measures.

• Use reusable coffee mugs, glasses, plates, and cutlery.

• Purchase paper towels, paper napkins and tissues that are made from recycled or sustainable materials and are compostable post use.

• Provide a tap filter and discourage bottled water.

• Provide ethically sourced coffee and tea. The Fair Trade organisation ensures their products prioritise care of natural resources and waste management practices for their farmers.

• Consider whether something needs to be printed, whether that’s in-house or professionally. Can online do the trick?

• Throw out the laminator (or at least reduce its use).

 

 

Corina Vucic is the Director of FC Business Solutions. With over 20 years in the franchise industry, and extensive operational and management experience, she works closely with leaders to take their business to the next level. Whatever their goals, Corina coaches, mentors and supports business owners and executives to maximise success and minimise risk for long-term business prosperity and security.

To discuss how Corina’s expertise can help take your business to new heights, contact: 03 9533 0028 cv@fcbs.com.au www.fcbs.com.au