Greener supply chains – are UK businesses missing an opportunity?
21st August 2023

As experts with commercial solar panels here at Low Carbon Energy, we’ve always been particularly focused on maintaining our policy of ethical buying, and the transparency of our supply chains.

Now, we know that supply chains are a crucial pillar for countless businesses across the UK, but it’s not uncommon for them to be seen as an inescapable concern, rather than an actively beneficial aspect of the business. This has been particularly true in recent years, where supply chain problems have been especially prominent. The Covid lockdowns, materials shortages that followed, and the 2021 Suez Canal blockage are all amongst some of the most high-profile examples, creating headaches for business owners.

With all this intensive management, it’s hardly surprising that some business owners have been reluctant to invest much more time, energy and money than absolutely necessary into improving the sustainability of their supply chains, given that many have been demanding so much attention simply to maintain their baseline functions.

But while understandable, it’s a sentiment that could create major missed opportunities. Not only do more sustainable supply chains help to improve the long-term resilience of a business, but in an era where customers are more selective than ever, sustainability can be a crucial factor in distinguishing a business from the competition – which could make all the difference to who comes out on top.

Getting the edge over the competition

Right off the bat, it’s worth mentioning that as many as 76% of consumers have said they would break off relationships with companies known for poor treatment of their employees, communities or the environment (and especially all three). In terms of carrot and stick, that’s the stick – but the carrot is that another study found consumers are willing to pay up to a 10% premium for products with greater supply chain transparency.

And in case you needed any more persuading, a study by EY found that 8 out of 10 of its respondents of supply chain executives had recently begun actively considering natural resources use, decarbonisation and ethical sourcing. Amongst them, about 32% had already noticed an increase in customer loyalty.

So, that’s all reason enough to re-examine your supply chains. The question is – what are the best ways to do it?

Improving supply chains with ‘buy-in’ from your team

Right now, experts generally agree that here in the UK, a lack of in-house understanding of the importance of ESG issues within the supply chain is one of the biggest obstacles to increasing sustainability.

So with that in mind, one of the best ways to start improving the sustainability of your supply chains is by sitting down with your team to look at its benefits, and how it can tangibly help your business. Marketing wins with your customers are one obvious example, but sustainable practices are almost always cheaper and more efficient in the long-run too – not to mention making your business more resilient to market shocks. (Look no further than the current volatile situation with oil prices!)

Once you have ‘buy-in’ from your team, with everyone recognising it as an opportunity to make their lives easier rather than simply a mandate from management, you can start focusing on the next goal: using everyone’s skills to identify areas where you can optimise quality, price and carbon footprints in your procurement decisions.

The crucial thing is that if it’s going to work for your company, you’ll need to make sure that nobody thinks of it simply as a box-ticking exercise. Only with real commitment can you hope to make substantial change.

And if you’re thinking about doing that with your business energy supply, that’s exactly where we can help here at Low Carbon Energy. If you’re thinking of installing some solar panels for your own business, or if you’ve got any questions, you can count on us to have all the answers you need – our experts have over 30 years of combined experience, having helped SMEs and large corporations across a wide variety of sectors transform their business’ energy supply.

Each of our installations is bespoke, tailoring your solution on your specific energy profile, helping us to maximise carbon reductions and saving you thousands in energy bills. Feel free to look at our case studies for just a few examples of businesses which have reaped huge rewards from solar, such as Boeing and Irish Water. To find out how we can help you, feel free to give us a call today on 01282 421 489!

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