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Three easy steps to measure and reduce your emissions

This guide is designed to jump-start you on your journey to net zero. That means cutting your business emissions, over time, to bring them as close to zero as possible by 2045.

We’ll walk you through how to easily work out your current emissions and create your bespoke action plan. You can use this to pick and choose the actions that are right for your business whether you’re just starting out on your climate action journey, or a little further advanced.

Taking responsibility for your business emissions and activities is a big first step on the road to net zero. This guide will help you on your way.

Step one: download your free workbook

Your climate action workbook gives you the tools to easily measure your business emissions and select actions to reduce them over time.

You can track up to four years of data and pick the actions that work best for your business. These range from actions that won’t cost you anything to quick-wins and longer term investments.

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Climate action plan

        Please read our privacy notice before proceeding. If you are unable to download the tool or wish to receive a copy without registering your details, you can email netzeroenquiries@visitscotland.com.

        Step two: measure your emissions

        Before you can begin to reduce your emissions, it's vital to know where you are now. After downloading your workbook, you can start to record your data and build a picture of your current carbon footprint.

        It might seem daunting at first, but we’ll walk you through what information you need and where to find it.

        More on how to measure your emissions

        Step three: get started with these six actions

        Your bespoke action plan allows you to select from a range of actions, but we suggest you start with these six. Committing to these over the next 12 months will kickstart your journey to net zero. Measure your emissions again next year to see how you have progressed and if there have been any changes.

        Conduct an energy audit

        Work out what parts of your business is using the most energy. This will help identify short and long-term actions by highlighting where you might be wasting energy.

        Steps to take

        1. Conduct an energy audit. Do a walk-around of your business and grade it against your energy audit checklist. Download a free energy usage tracker and audit checklist on businessenergyscotland.org.
        2. Identify your energy “quick wins”. Start with some low-cost, easy-to-implement steps to reduce your energy emissions and build motivation to tackle the harder ones. Browse our factsheet for steps to save on energy.
        3. Use existing help to further reduce your energy emissions. To help you with identifying longer-term changes, it can be useful to hire an energy assessor. Request a fast-track energy assessment on businessenergyscotland.org.

        Switch to a green energy tariff or supplier

        Lower your emissions by purchasing energy from renewable sources. Just ensure that their tariffs fit in your budget and their energy mix is 100% renewable. This way, you'll get the biggest impact possible on your carbon footprint.

        This increased demand for green energy in turn influences energy suppliers to invest more in renewable energy.

        Steps to take

        1. Compare energy offerings. Find out when your current contract ends and what green energy options your current supplier offers. Feel free to shop around and get quotes from other suppliers too.
        2. Check the green credentials of your energy supplier. Be wary that not all renewable energy are equally green. Solar and wind energy will be better than biomass. Find guidance on the greenest tariffs in the UK on energysavingtrust.org.uk.
        3. Switch tariff or suppliers. Once you’ve identified your preferred tariff, make sure you notify your supplier of your intention to switch to avoid hidden fees or fines.

        Adopt more sustainable business travel

        Transport makes up a substantial amount of global greenhouse gas emissions. It will usually make up a considerable part of your emissions.

        You can reduce emissions by encouraging staff and customers to use low carbon transport options when possible. You could even consider implementing business travel policies and procedures.

        Steps to take

        1. Create a business travel checklist. Identify how your staff travel and what alternatives might be available. Calculate these carbon emissions (you can use our free emissions workbook) and evaluate your findings. Make sure you keep details of miles and fuel used where applicable for your yearly carbon audit.
        2. Consider ways to avoid emissions. These can be measures such as:
        • implementing a “digital first” policy, choosing video chat over in-person meetings between people who do not live / work within walking distance
        • implementing a cycle to work scheme
        • encourage your staff to pick rail or coach journeys over car or air travel if a viable alternative
        • opting for hybrid or electric vehicles when using taxis or cars
        • discouraging the use of plane journeys within mainland Scotland, England, and Wales
        • ensuring you travel directly as much as possible if you have to fly and opting for the airline companies that operate newer, cleaner aircrafts
        • opting only for airliners that use sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) once these become available
        1. Inspire guests to use responsible travel. Provide guests with clear information on your website and on-site on how to get to your business and around the local area by public transport. Also include ideas and incentives to give the car a day off. Read more in our influence customers and supplier’s section.
        2. Communicate your new travel policies. Inform your suppliers and contractors of what you are doing to cut emissions to see if there are any shared learnings. Remember to say why you are doing this to avoid any confusion.
        3. Build on your success. Hold yourself accountable and share your data with your local Industry Relationship Manager to seek further guidance on how to reduce your emissions. Find your Industry Relationship Manager.

        Encourage responsible tourism practices

        Consider helping your community and the environment by encouraging visitors to plan and enjoy a responsible trip in Scotland. Spread the message and share content that allows your visitors to make responsible choices. The more you talk about it, the more people will hear about it.

        Steps to take

        1. Help your visitors choose a sustainable and inclusive destination. Ensure seasonal spread by encouraging visitors to travel in the quieter spring, autumn, and winter months. You can also showcase hidden gems.
        2. Promote low carbon transport options. Transport has a significant impact on how sustainable visitors can be.
        1. Show visitors the benefits of staying longer. Inspire visitors to stay longer by showcasing the many unique experiences available to them. And make a case that there’s too much to do in just a couple of days.
        2. Demonstrate to visitors how they help your business and local community. Our visitors can help give back to local communities by shopping and supporting locals. Promote what your business does and the experiences that can be found on your doorstep.
        3. Engage with your community council. Consider the broader impacts of climate change on your community and try to look at ways your business can help the community adapt to climate change. Attend local community meetings and reach out to local politicians to get responsible tourism on their list of priorities.

        Increase your recycling

        Look at your current recycling process and ways to enhance and increase your capture rates i.e. the amount of waste that is being recycled. 80% of UK landfill waste could have been recycled, so accurate recycling at the source is critical. Try to avoid mixed recycling and consider suppliers and circular methods.

        If you’re a sole trader, this might not apply. But it becomes more important if you have a business with employees or visitors across various sites.

        Steps to take

        1. Revise your recycling method, supplier, and policy. Increase your knowledge of your current recycling procedure and processes. Look at your invoices and bills, check for hidden surcharges for not recycling properly, and try to stabilise the amount you spend on waste management. Reach out to your supplier for extra materials, bin labels / stickers, and information guides if needed.
        2. Avoid mixed recycling and look for suppliers that recycle at the source. While it’s a bit more work, the capture rates of this environmentally friendly option are higher. Check out business waste recycling plans on changewasterecycling.co.uk.
        3. Develop tools and resources to recycle more effectively. Monitor how much recyclable waste is going into your general bins. Try to schedule a quick five-minute check each week whilst the bin is at its peak or before it is removed. After one or two months, use your data to take appropriate measures. Research shows that clearly labelled bins, with icons and associated colour coding, have the most success.
        4. Appoint a “green champion” or “green team” to monitor waste and staff engagement. This person or team will be asked to increase their knowledge on everything from recycling to saving energy and other sustainability activities. Armed with this knowledge they’ll be able to make policy suggestions. You can find some excellent green champion training on:

        Phase out single-use items

        Phasing out of single-use items in favour of reusable goods and services is one of the most important things your business could do for the environment. This is particularly true for any single-use plastics.

        Zero Waste Scotland’s research suggests that up to 150,000 tonnes of reusable materials in Scotland are currently either being disposed of or otherwise being sent to lower-value recycling. Consider taking a circular approach to business materials and look at reusing or repairing over recycling where you can.

        Steps to take

        1. Reuse and repair. Extend the lifespan of your products and embed circular practices into your business. Try to reuse, repair and refurbish technology or equipment where you can. Look at places like "your refurbished (super) market" on backmarket.co.uk or read more on the circular economy on zerowastescotland.org.uk.
        2. Request sustainable packaging options from suppliers. Every time a supplier sends you items wrapped in non-recyclables, you’ll just end up sending it to a landfill. Specifically ordering products in recyclable packaging from your supplier will go a long way. Find more ways on how to reduce single-use plastics on foshbottle.com.
        3. Develop a checklist of your regular suppliers. Find out who is being sustainable and who is not and switch to those that do offer sustainable packaging (upon request). You can also look for suppliers that encourage you to bring back materials rather than binning them.
        4. Implement changes within your business. Look at what you use across your business, mainly where plastic is used, and devise a plan to phase this out. Only use materials that can be reused where possible. You can even look to only engage with local businesses and suppliers to lessen the travel distance and support local business.