Why green ethics makes business sense

Can UK businesses embrace green ethics and become planet savers? First Mile's Bruce Bratley writes.

When it comes to our individual impact on the environment, many of us bury our head in the sand. We tend to think that solutions are too hard, expensive or ‘won’t make a difference’ and, as a result, do nothing.

But just simple steps like addressing what we throw away can go a long way towards tackling some of these big issues. In fact, recycling is one of the easiest and simplest ways every business can reduce its impact on the environment.

We can help the planet

Another benefit of recycling is a reduction in energy and the consumption of raw materials. When we recycle, used materials are converted into new products, reducing the need to consume natural resources through mining and forestry.

Producing steel from recycled materials, for example, saves 75% of the energy needed to produce virgin steel. Recycling aluminium saves 95% of CO2 compared with making aluminium from Bauxite.

Most importantly, recycling reduces out need for landfills. Landfills produce nearly a quarter of the UK’s methane emissions – with methane 21 times more potent than CO2. Recycling saves the UK more than 18 million tonnes of Co2 per year which is the equivalent of taking nearly 4 million vehicles off UK roads.

See also: 21 ways to make your business go green – Going green has never made more sense. Not only is it likely to save you money, it’s also a useful sales tool, a powerful motivator for employees, and a way of getting ahead of the game as regulation marches inexorably from voluntary codes and guidelines towards compulsion.

Ethical businesses reap financial rewards

Saving the planet isn’t the only benefit recycling can bring. It also saves money. We find that businesses save 30% on average on their waste collection by recycling with us.

As cash-strapped councils enforce more regulation, businesses need to comply or risk being hit with massive fines. Last year, Starbucks was fined £160,000 for a single waste offence by Westminster Council.

As more millennials enter the workplace, many are looking to work for a company that stands for something. Business owners that want to attract the best talent are now placing more value on ethics alongside profits.

It’s not just the employees that businesses need to consider. Suppliers and customers also increasingly want to work with ethical partners that have strong environmental policies. Recycling is a strong gateway towards distilling good green practices throughout an organisation.

The future is green

With the latest advances in technology promising a future filled with self-driving vehicles and smarter algorithms that power machine learning environments, our capacity to understand our impact on the environment is growing. As we become more advanced and knowledgeable, I am confident that we will be able to uncover even more easy and simple ways like recycling for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint, and to save money!

The most valuable and responsive businesses today are those that get the ethics right and create a better environment for staff and customers. Sustainable growth is not unachievable and all British businesses have the capacity to achieve this in 2017 and beyond.


Bruce Bratley is the CEO and co-founder of First Mile.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.