Bee Net Zero

10 small steps your Greater Manchester business can take to be more sustainable in 2024

  • Wednesday, January 24, 2024
  • Posted By The Growth Company

Is your Greater Manchester business considering becoming greener but struggling to know where to start? Bee Net Zero aims to make Greater Manchester the easiest place to become a net zero organisation and we’re committed to providing the support and guidance you need to make greener choices.

As the most comprehensive business support network for net zero in the UK, our trusted partners from across the region have resources and tools that can help you take the steps to net zero.

To begin, we’ve rounded up 10 small steps your business can take to become more sustainable in 2024, whether you’re just starting your journey or want to implement some quick wins. With these, we’re signposting to support available across Greater Manchester, so you know exactly where to turn.


1.       Start to identify your emissions

You can’t become a greener business until you understand the scale of your emissions and where they come from. Your businesses carbon footprint is a measure of your contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere; understanding this is the first step to reducing your impact on the planet. Carbon Foot Printing for a business involves understanding your scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3 emissions, collecting whatever data you can and calculating your emissions so that you can identify potential improvements and set targets.

Bee Net Zero partner Green Economy have created a step-by-step guide to carbon footprinting that will help your business to understand the difference between scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and show you where to start. Greater Manchester businesses can also contact the Green Economy team for support on their carbon reduction journey, with specialist advisors on hand to conduct and audit for you, helping you to set realistic goals for your business.


2.       Create a decarbonisation plan

Once you’ve identified your emissions and your business's carbon footprint, you can create a decarbonisation plan and Green Economy can help. This will help you to ensure that you’re putting the suitable improvements to reduce your emissions and save money into action so that you can meet targets.

Start by identifying low-hanging fruit and easy, low-cost changes such as changing to low-energy lighting or introducing a paperless-office. You can then plan for the high-carbon impact areas that may require more time, planning and budget to implement like installing EV chargers or onsite renewables. Make sure your plan is strategic by taking the time to research any government grants or funding opportunities you can take advantage of, and remember, even little steps are progress to the steps to net zero.

This plan can then be converted into an environmental policy that you can share with employees, suppliers and customers to ensure they help you to meet your goals and show you’re serious about sustainability.


3.       Reduce single-use plastic and paper use

One of the simplest ways your business can become more sustainable is to look at the amount of waste you’re creating and take steps to reduce it. Things like single-use plastics aren’t always necessary for use and reducing them can make a positive impact on the environment. If your business relies on single-use cutlery or other plastics, take the time to research a more eco-friendly and recyclable alternative. Similarly, if your office space relies heavily on paper use, why not make 2024 the year you implement a paperless policy?

As of October 2023, the use of many single use plastic is banned in the UK. To support businesses with this transition, GM Green City are running a campaign called #PlasticFreeGM where you’ll find guides to reducing plastic use particularly in the Tourism and Hospitality sector as well as useful tips to ditch single use plastics once and for all.


4.       Embrace and promote sustainable transport

The way you and your employees travel to work can significantly contribute to your business's carbon footprint. In 2024, by opting for a more sustainable commute you could reduce your impact on the planet and spend less time behind the wheel.

Greater Manchester is investing heavily in public transport and active travel through the Bee Network. It’s creating an affordable, reliable and safe service that we can all be proud to use. To encourage take-up from our region’s business community, Bee Net Zero partner Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has created a business portal with a journey planning guide, a simplified explanation of fares and ticket options and more guides for business commuting. This guidance can be passed onto employees to make a sustainable commute the easiest and most cost-effective option.

For those businesses that can’t rely on public transportation, especially those outside of the city-centre, 2024 may be a good time to start thinking about promoting the use of low-carbon vehicles like electric cars. Bee Net Zero’s Go Electric campaign has all of the information your business could need to install chargers and support employees to take up EVs with salary sacrifice screams, guides to EVs and more.


5.       Become more energy efficient

There are many ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your workplace, and doing so will help reduce your energy costs so it’s win-win. Actions like installing LED lights or improving insulation will make a huge difference, but so will small steps like unplugging machinery when its not in use, making sure lights and heating is switched off when not needed or even upgrading old technology can help your business to become more energy efficient.

Green Economy have a series of blogs and news stories about making businesses more energy-efficient including affordable green tech solutions that can be implemented easily. Electricity North West also have a guide to Energy Efficiency to support Greater Manchester businesses.


6.       Support local, sustainable and foods

If your business is in the food and drink sector or relies on catering for events or meetings, the food you use can help to reduce your carbon footprint. Where possible, using less meat and including vegan and vegetarian options can have less impact on the planet as livestock production is proven to be a contributor to climate change.

Where this isn’t possible, consider where your food is coming from. Could you source local suppliers where possible to reduce the travel time of your ingredients?  Could you introduce an on-site vegetable patch to grow your own? Little steps can help you to reduce your carbon footprint and can also help to show your commitment to the environment to customers, clients and employees.

Recycle for Greater Manchester has guides to reducing food waste, how to compost and moreIn  Greater Manchester, 140,000 tonnes of food waste is put in general waste bins? Recycle for Greater Manchester’s Buy, Keep, Eat, Repeat campaign aims to help businesses and individuals combat this.


7.       Manage your waste properly

Do you know what’s really happening to your business's waste? Maybe 2024 is the year you should vouch to find out. Remember, reduce, reuse and recycle is the golden rule, throwing away and recycling should be the last option where possible. Therefore, the first step is to reduce the amount of waste you’re producing from reducing food waste to limiting the amount of paper used in the office. Identify your biggest contributors to waste and see if you can reduce this is any way.

Then, make sure you have a clear and easy-to-follow recycling system with clearly labelled bins that employees will understand. Make sure you show exactly what is allowed in that bin or waste disposal area to avoid confusion.

If necessary, you may want to engage a waste management company that can help deal with and sort large proportions of waste. However, taking the steps to reduce waste and ensure it’s properly disposed of is a great starting point for businesses of all sizes.

Recycle for Greater Manchester has guides to reducing waste as well as area specific recycling guides, so you can identify exactly what goes in which bin.


8.       Learn more about green tech

Installing green tech isn’t always cheap, but it has huge benefits for your business. Whether it's installing sustainable heating, onsite renewables or EV chargers, green tech can reduce your running costs and successfully future-proof your organisation by putting you ahead of inevitable change.


As with any new technology, the first step is to learn more about it and whether or not it’s right for your business before you make the investment. There are hundreds of sources of information about green tech and transformation and regardless of the sector you work in, this can be an information overload. Rather than feeling pressured to invest, in 2024, one small step you can take is to commit to learning more about these technologies, and whether they are right for your business.


Bee Net Zero partner Green Economy has a series of demystifying green tech webinars and online guides which help to answer burning questions and clear up any confusion about green tech. So far, they’ve covered Electric Vehicles, Heat Pumps, Solar Technologies, Carbon Offsetting and Net Zero Finance with guides, FAQs and webinar recordings with industry experts to help you gain a better understanding.

Another partner, Electricity North West has guides to green tech including heat pumps, electric vehicles and renewable energy.


9.       Engage your supply chain

Your businesses carbon footprint isn’t just impacted by your direct actions and those of your employees, but also the suppliers you use. In 2024, you can make steps to net zero by talking to your suppliers about their environmental policy and the actions they are taking to reduce their emissions. This doesn’t mean completely switching suppliers, but instead engaging them in a conversation to ensure you’re on the same page about sustainability. This may help you generate more ideas for your business and shows your suppliers that you take sustainability seriously and it may effect business decisions when contracts become up for renewal.

Green Economy have a guide to Scope 3 emissions for businesses which are derived from supply chains but also a guide to becoming a green supplier which may help you begin conversations.


10.   Engage your employees

Climate change is a problem that affects us all and will have implications for years to come. Therefore, it’s not just the responsibility of business leaders or operations managers. Instead, make 2024 the year you engage your employees on your sustainability journey, speak with them about what changes your business could make and how they could support you as you work to meet targets. You may find they’re passionate about the subject and have great ideas.

By making your goals clear throughout your business and tackling your carbon footprint collaboratively, you can be more effective in making an impact. Make sure you signpost your employees to any relevant materials provided by Bee Net Zero partners and keep regular conversations going to ensure employees remain informed, enthusiastic and on board.

Plus, Bee Net Zero partners including Green Economy GM Chamber of Commerce and pro-manchester offer many events that can help you engage employees with your environmental goals. For example, Journey to Net Zero is a course that helps give your organisation the tools to take action. The 3 day training course uses group workshops, study material s and one-to-one advice with environmental specialists to guide you through what net zero means for your organisation and how to prioritise action.

Similarly, by engaging employees in carbon literacy training, you’ll be able to improve their understanding of environmental impacts and support action across your business. This certified training programme is a great way to engage your workforce and raise awareness of climate change to help you lower your emissions and your energy bills.


Hopefully, this has given you an idea of where to start when greening your business. Remember, even the smallest steps can make a difference and it’s better to make a start than to do nothing.

To learn more about how the Bee Net Zero partnership can help you on your sustainability journey, visit our homepage.

Or to learn more about our work to help Greater Manchester’s understand solar pv, electric vehicles or green finance on the road to net zero visit our campaign pages.