Can I have a business energy contract if I work from home?
The gig economy is showing no signs of slowing down and micro businesses are thriving, with 76% of UK business...Read More
The ‘circular economy’ is an increasingly popular term as consciousness of sustainability grows. What is the circular economy and what opportunities does it offer UK SMEs?
‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ is an ever more familiar mantra as environmental awareness increases. Reduced to its simplest form, the circular economy is an expression of these principles.
Unlike a traditional ‘linear economy’ – where the mantra may be fairly be expressed as ‘make, use, dispose’ – a circular economy keeps resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value then recovering the maximum amount of materials to use them again (recycle, reuse).
As sustainability focused charity Wrap explains, the benefits of a circular economy include:
There are both ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors moving us towards a circular economy: the push is the increasing price – both monetary and economic – of the old ‘take, make, waste’ economy; the pull is the untapped opportunity to offer products and services that fit into a circular economy.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the environmental focus of the EU will steadily increase the ‘push’ impetus. As edie.net recently reported, the European Commission has argued that a circular economy is necessary in a world with finite resources and a booming population. The EC’s new circular economy package will include fresh legislation on waste, fertilisers, and water reuse, “strong commitments” on eco-design, strategies for handling plastics and chemicals, and “major” funding for innovation.
Documents quoted by edie suggest there will be “targeted action” in food, construction, industrial and mining waste, and public procurement.
While measures will likely initially focus on larger corporates, small to medium sized enterprises should examine their consumption, especially if they are in the aforementioned ‘priority’ sectors. Current best practice should be followed and may be adequate for initial EC rules.
The proposed Eco-design plan (for 2015-17) is trickier to predict. The focus will be on developing product requirements but, while the current Eco-design directive focuses only on energy efficiency, the next one will consider resource efficiency issues such as reparability, durability, and recyclability.
Manufacturers would be advised to consider changes to their products, bearing in mind that Extended Producer Responsibility schemes will mandate producers to pay for the recycling of their products.
But the circular economy goes further than this: innovative companies can revolutionise the way they interact with customers, potentially boosting profits as they do so.
You may think that your business could not offer anything relevant to the circular economy. But even simple strategies could make a difference. In addition to recycling your own waste, you could take customers’ too: options range from old bottles to used-up aerosols and more. Done correctly, you might be able to actually make money, allowing you to incentivise customers, reduce prices or increase profits.
Going one step further, some companies have already chosen to take back their used products at the end of their life, offering a discount on new purchases in exchange. This can be a win-win if the producers can reuse or recycle components.
One step further is a new model of collaborative consumerism, which, as a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation explains, means a move away from ownership. Instead, consumers access products on demand, essentially renting or leasing them. For businesses, this opens the door to more frequent touch points and greater brand loyalty.
For many SMEs, this may seem unattainable. If the digital revolution is anything to go by, a few disruptors may blaze a trail into the circular economy that others follow later (and less profitably). For most of the UK’s smaller companies understanding the shift to circularity and making some modest initial changes should be enough (for now).
Awareness of environmental issues is central to the circular economy. Renewable business energy arguably plays a crucial role in this, and showing your company’s commitment can help you stay ahead of the competition.
Perceptions of green business energy as overpriced and unreliable are now outdated. A substantial and growing proportion of the UK’s business electricity comes from renewable sources. SMEs may be surprised at how cheap green business electricity can be.
SwitchMyBuiness.com offers a comprehensive comparison of sustainable business electricity deals – including 100% renewable deals – and switch supplier in just 20 minutes. Just complete the form at the top right of this page or call 0330 010 0251.
"Very easy. Bea Luseni very efficient & knowledgeable."This review was posted by Alan Duffy on the 31st of March 2017
Super helpful and easy to work with
"Recommend this company in a heartbeat - Nicole Borneuf was super easy to talk to, was not pushy in the slightest, very helpful and replied with all my questions very professionally and did all she could to help. I had to deal with a few companies to sort my business energy out, all but Nicole were too pushy for my liking and I refused to follow through with them. Thank Nicole - you are a credit to your company, thank you for making the stressful energy change so easy."This review was posted by Mia Drew on the 29th of March 2017
An Extremely Competent Company
"Switch my business has not only helped my SME secure a good energy deal for the second year running but Jessica swiftly found a alternative supplier for me when I was let down on the day of switching by the new contractual provider I had chosen some 4 months previously. Being suddenly out of contract and without provider is everyone's energy nightmare. Greatest thanks."This review was posted by S McMillan on the 29th of March 2017
Helpful, friendly and we saved lots of money!
"Jessica Purnell was helpful and friendly, she made the whole process easy and simple AND we saved lots of money thanks Jess"This review was posted by Melanie Baker on the 23rd of March 2017
Quick & Easy
"Kabibi was very helpful and the whole process was very efficient. The one small reservation I had was that I was phoned up by Kabibi almost immediately having received my online quote - which wasn't enough time for me to finish reading the quotes! Fortunately she was able to assist me in a greater savings on both Gas & Electricity, and so as long as the switchover is seamless I will remain very happy with the service."This review was posted by Amanda Brown on the 21st of March 2017