John Watt

How we are trying to save the polar bears

Undertaking transformative changes to tackle climate breakdown is now more important than ever. The 2021 climate report, released by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, detailed the impact of climate breakdown, from rapidly rising sea levels to extremes of hot weather and emphasised the urgency of action. Due to the geographical region that Cumbria occupies, it has an increased risk of drought and flooding. However, the county also has the potential to be a climate leader and networks in Cumbria are working towards transforming Cumbria into a carbon-neutral county by 2037.

Businesses have a corporate responsibility to meet the demand for sustainability. This will not only attract eco-conscious consumers, but it can also improve the bottom line through innovation, saving money through efficiencies, and protecting against potential carbon taxes and green policy changes as the UK moves towards net-zero carbon.

This Roadmap is designed to help Cumbrian Small Medium-sized Enterprise’s (SME’s) in the food and drink sector achieve the net-zero carbon ambition by signposting to resources that will aid SME’s on different parts of their journey. The Roadmap encourages a proactive approach to the net-zero carbon aim through integrating strategy and sustainable practice.

How to Use the Roadmap

This roadmap is designed in a simple format to help SMEs move towards becoming carbon net-zero without facing barriers such as inaccessible resources, unactionable resources and information overload. To use the document, you simply move downwards through each section (in essence, travelling down the road to carbon net-zero!) and find the resources which meet your sustainability needs.

Each section is in a table format, with a question, a description and a link. The question allows you to find information based on what you may have considered in your own business. The description section gives an overview of the resource that is linked. The link can be clicked on to access the resource – all of the links provide actionable information to help you move closer to your carbon net-zero goals.

To make the most of the roadmap, SMEs should start at the beginning (in the
‘Pledge’ section), and move down through the sections, asking questions about their business and accessing the links to create actionable change.

Not all questions have easy solutions, and some steps may prove harder than others – but the nature of making the climate pledge is committing to big and small change and recognising that every change will make a difference!

Example

Is there any financial support available for buying efficient equipment?You can claim capital allowances from the UK government for buying energy and water efficient equipment for your business.Claim capital allowance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

On the left of this table is a question about financial support for buying efficient equipment – an SME who is considering investing in electric car chargers may read the description to determine if it is a suitable resource and follow the link to begin making a change in their business. In this case, the link is to the government page which contains relevant information about how to claim capital allowances for buying energy-efficient equipment.

Quick Wins

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

  • Use reusable cutlery
  • Use recyclable paper
  • Find people to repurpose water
  • Digitise where possible, i.e. receipts, menus, contracts
  • Produce biofuel from recycled waste oil
  • Compost
  • Install LED lightbulbs

Employees

  • Encourage sustainable decision making and innovation
  • Travel to work schemes
  • Switch off lights and appliances when not in use
  • Offer work from home opportunities
  • Offer employees reuse water bottles
  • Encourage employees to monitor heating settings

Customers

  • Offer customers a discount if they bring their own utensils/cups
  • Start conversations about sustainability

Suppliers

  • Ask suppliers to deliver in wooden/reusable crates
  • Buy local and seasonal