Three sustainable practices you can easily implement into your small business

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It’s incredibly important for every Australian small business to act sustainably. With 98 per cent of Australia’s 2.5 million businesses falling under the small- and medium-business categories, the sustainability practices of these businesses are an imperative part of the country’s overarching impact on the environment.

When combined, small changes can make a big difference.

However, even though 95 per cent of small business owners believe sustainability is important, 35 per cent said they’re not trying to reduce their carbon footprint. For those who might not know where to start, here are a few simple tips that you can follow that will minimise your business’s impact on the environment.

Understanding your carbon footprint

Understanding your carbon footprint helps provide transparency and accountability for any small business, providing a first-hand look at your impact on the environment and can help identify areas to reduce emissions and adopt sustainable practices to fight the effects of climate change.

The first step is calculating your carbon footprint and determining the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by your activities or operations. This can include energy consumption, transportation, waste management, and more. Various online calculators and tools are available to help estimate your carbon footprint.

Many businesses now adopt strategies such as carbon offsetting to balance out the greenhouse gas emissions produced. While carbon offsets can help compensate for emissions, it is important to note that the primary focus should be on reducing emissions at the source to achieve meaningful and long-term sustainability goals.

Join a product stewardship scheme

Assessing every touch-point of the supply chain plays a huge role in minimising our environmental footprint, especially when considering end-of-life solutions.

For many small businesses, it can be overwhelming on where to begin. This is where a product stewardship scheme can come into play.

It acknowledges that anyone designing, manufacturing and selling products has a responsibility to ensure those products or materials are managed in a way that reduces environmental and human health impacts throughout the life cycle and across the supply chain.

Product stewardship schemes are a proven way to make a real impact in your industry. To get started, see what programs are already available, such as the Australian Battery recycling initiative that looks at the safe disposal of batteries and Compost Connect, Australia’s first composting service helping businesses access organic recycling services for both food waste and compostable packaging.

If you can’t find an existing product stewardship scheme suitable to your business, start by labelling packaging and products with an Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) or clear end-of-life instructions for your products.

Are you using sustainable packaging?

With changes to Australian single-use plastic legislation and the rise of the conscious consumer, sustainable packaging is becoming increasingly important across a range of business sectors. When choosing your packaging, it is important to consider its purpose and functionality, the raw materials being used and the channels for its end-of-life disposal.

Certified compostable packaging, for example, is well suited for the food service industry and focuses on a circular economy that is designed to minimise the impact on our environment by using innovative materials that are both sustainably sourced and rapidly renewable. This type of packaging can divert food scraps from landfill while stopping harmful greenhouse gas emissions from decomposing organic matter.

Sustainable practices can be achievable at any level or stage in business. And by adopting small, yet impactful, steps we can all do our part to help put the planet first.