Just as start-ups can create new businesses for the future, green energy is likely to be the future of transport as vehicles switch away from burning fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel. According to the Department of TransportOpens in new window, in 2019 27% of the UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were from transport.
Lowering carbon emissions doesn’t have to involve making big changes, either. Switching over how you and your employees commute to work or changing how your products and services are transported to customers makes an impact and helps reduce your carbon footprint. Small businesses will be vital in helping the UK reach its 2050 net-zero goal. Adopting greener transport options will be a key part of this.
Help ensure your business decisions make a positive impact on the environment with our free Introducing environmental decision making courseOpens in new window. As part of our Learn with Start Up LoansOpens in new window partnership with The Open University, our online course is free to join, delivered by experts and includes a free statement of participation on completion.
Five ways to reduce small business transport emissions
Consider using electric vehicles
From small electric delivery vans used by sustainable start-ups to switching to an electric car when travelling to work, eco-friendly transport is set to be the future as the UK plans to ban the sale of new petrol or diesel cars from 2030. Because batteries rather than fossil fuels power electric vehicles, they don’t directly produce GHG emissions.
However, unless you charge your vehicle using renewable electricity sources, electric vehicles can be responsible for carbon emissions by using national grid electricity. In the UK, each kWh of electricity used produces roughly 0.212kg of C02Opens in new window – fully charging a 75kWh car battery may generate around 15.9kg of C02. However, driving the same distance of 250 miles in a medium-sized petrol car could produce up to 75kg of C02Opens in new window. Going electric could also save you money through lower fuel costs, and you may be viable for funding, such as the plug-in grantOpens in new window.
Set up a carpool scheme
A recent study showed that over 60% of journeysOpens in new window made by cars and vans between 2002 and 2018 are single occupancy, with only one person in the vehicle. Encouraging employees living near each other to share car journeys to work is likely to help reduce emissions by reducing the number of cars on the road. Carpooling may help staff by fostering greater communication and sharing costs such as fuel and parking, resulting in a cheaper commute.
Avoid unnecessary business travel
Covid-19 resulted in travel restrictions that saw many businesses embrace remote working and video conferencing for meetings, reducing the need for face-to-face meetings. The carbon-cutting impact of digital conferencing could be significant when used as an alternative to international business travel. International aviation emissions more than doubled from 16 MtCO2e to 37 MtCO2e in the period 1990- 2019, a 138% increase, according to the Department of TransportOpens in new window.
Encourage cycling to work schemes
Getting employees on the saddle could cut your company’s GHG emissions and improve their health. Cycling is a zero-emission transport and an aerobic activity that can increase fitness. Research published in the British Medical JournalOpens in new window found that cycling contributes to improved mental wellbeing and reduced stress. Challenges such as ‘cycle to work week’ can be compelling motivators, and you could also make cycling to work more accessible by installing bike racks. The government has a helpful guide for businesses introducing a cycle to work schemeOpens in new window.
Source local suppliers with electric or fuel-free vehicles
GHG emissions aren’t just limited to the emissions your business directly generates. Other parts of your business operations, such as your supply chain or distribution chain, can be responsible for carbon emissions. It can be a good idea to list all the ways suppliers to your business might be responsible for harmful emissions, such as the distance supplies travel to get to your business. Assess whether switching to local suppliers, for example, can help reduce carbon emissions.
Even small changes, such as planning for supplies or deliveries to be made in as few a number of journeys as possible, can help.
Five driving tips for cutting transport emissions
While moving away from fossil-fuel-powered vehicles can help lower GHG emissions, cost and convenience can be obstacles for some start-up business owners. During this transition period, if you are using a petrol or diesel car for now, several simple driving behaviours may help reduce your emissions.
Service your car regularly
Keeping your engine in tip-top condition can boost fuel efficiency and extend your vehicle’s lifespan, with the RACOpens in new window reporting that regularly changing engine oil and using a cleaning agent may help to reduce emissions.
The more weight your car has to carry, the more fuel it consumes, so avoid keeping heavy items like sports equipment in the back. According to research by KwikFitOpens in new window, an additional 50kg of weight may push your fuel consumption up by 2%, so don’t use your boot as a storeroom. It may be sensible not to have bike racks or lockers on your car except when they are in use; they can add weight and increase drag from the wind.
Leaving your engine on while stationary can be inefficient, according to the AAOpens in new window. Car engines can warm up more quickly when moving, and a car running while idle may simply be wasting fuel.
Check your tyre pressure regularly
If your tyres are underinflated, your car has to work harder and will use more fuel as a result. Check your tyre pressure regularly and before every long journey, advises the AAOpens in new window.
Open the windows
Air conditioning can increase your fuel consumption at lower speeds, according to the AAOpens in new window, making it more efficient to open your car windows at slower speeds during hot weather.
Thinking of starting a sustainable business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with The Open University on environmental decision-making and how organisations impact the environment.
Our free Learn with Start Up Loans coursesOpens in new window include:
- Financial methods in environmental decisionsOpens in new window
- Future energy demand and supplyOpens in new window
- Energy in buildingsOpens in new window
Plus free courses on finance and accounting, marketing, project management, management and leadership.
This article and the content provided therein is exclusively for informative purposes. Nothing in this article or in its contents is intended to provide advice of any kind (including legal, financial, tax or other professional advice) and should not be relied on as such. You should get professional or specialist advice before doing anything on the basis of the content contained in this article.