How Business West members are building a sustainable future for people and planet

As Business West celebrates 200 years of future thinking for the region and its businesses, we wanted to focus on how our members are helping to build sustainable futures. 

Businesses have faced a series of challenges and shocks in the past few years, including surviving a global pandemic and the highest inflation rates in 40 years, but despite this firms are living through a moment of great opportunity. 

Recent research by Deloitte showed that 85% of consumers adopted at least one lifestyle change to be more sustainable last year. This means they are expecting more from the brands they purchase from and are more closely scrutinising their values and behaviour.

200 years ago, during the industrial revolution, businesses and consumers did not anticipate the impact of CO2 emissions on society and the planet. However, by the 1980s, global warming became recognised on a wider scale after a NASA scientist alerted the world that the climate was changing. 

Now climate change is urgent. With businesses accounting for 18% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, they have huge responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint.Reducing energy and use renewables

Current electricity generation – primarily by fossil fuels – is the single biggest contributor to climate change and is responsible for 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Business West Chamber Member, Nick Hounsfield, and Founder and CVO of The Wave, an inland surfing destination in Bristol, has been committed to sustainability since its inception and the use of renewables are integral to its future.

He said:

“We're building our own solar array and battery storage solution so that all of our waves are created in the least environmentally impactful way possible.

“At the moment the waves are created using renewable energy but by June this year we’ll be completely off grid and all the waves will be powered by the sun above us.”

Rethinking supply chains 

Businesses are beginning to rethink the sustainability of their supply chain, and this is key as they can account for up to 80% of a company’s total global greenhouse emissions.

It’s important to map out your supply chain and look at areas such as where raw materials come from, what factory makes the products and how waste is disposed of.

Business West member Averys Wine Merchants has made all its deliveries outside of Bristol carbon neutral through carbon offsetting and is looking at bottling its wines in the UK to reduce its carbon emissions.

Another quick win is to use renewable energy suppliers like Ecotricity and Ovo energy. 

Moving forward as a community 

At Business West, our members and customers often tell us that the most difficult thing about becoming more sustainable is knowing where to start. By joining together as a business community, the journey can become less overwhelming.

Lee Nottle, PR Manager at Essential Trading Group and Business West Chamber Member, said:

“One of the biggest challenges for businesses is fear of the unknown. There are new technologies coming in which are expensive, such as electric vehicles. We’re looking to switch to a completely electric fleet of lorries but right now they’re massively expensive to buy. It’s knowing where to find that funding. 

“Another challenge is that going into the sustainability conversation can be really hard for people who don’t have any knowledge in that field. 

“But there’s more and more people starting to have those conversations. We’ve found the courses through Business West really useful.”

Nick, founder of The Wave, continued:

“As a whole community we can be at the forefront of future facing business rather than constantly looking at the profitable side.

“The beauty of being a young business is that we can help businesses who have been around for hundreds of years and support them to make a shift.

“It’s a challenge but business can work together and that’s why Business West is so important because you can have those complex discussions together.

“Business can be quite lonely at times, particularly if you’re a founder, and having a network of people who you can trust, rely upon, and be able to pick up the phone to is really important.” 

How your business can get started on its sustainability journey

As a B Corp, we want to help firms get started on their journey to Net Zero. 

Since starting our Aiming for Net Zero workshops and Lunch and Learn webinars in 2020, we’ve supported over 200 businesses to get started on their net zero journeys. 

Find out more about our events here.

  • Find out more about joining the Chamber of Commerce

    Join the largest business membership organisation in the region.

  • Find out more about joining the Chamber of Commerce

    Join the largest business membership organisation in the region.