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Energy, transport, and waste make up a substantial amount of global greenhouse gas emissions and will usually make up a considerable part of your emissions. Taking action to reduce these will be an important step on your road to net zero.

This page provides practical information on how you can reduce your business' carbon emissions and report on improvements.

We’d recommend, as a minimum, that any detailed reduction plan you create looks years into the future. Consider that, as you might make changes within your business or as there may be unforeseen changes to government policy, this will affect your plans.

In the longer-term, you could try reducing your emissions by half between 2030 and 2035 and then aim to reach net zero by 2045.

Starting to put money aside as soon as possible for your net zero investments is essential. By investing in a responsible future, it helps builds business resilience.

Some technologies and actions, particularly in the longer term, can have significant upfront costs for small and medium enterprises, and sole traders.

The importance of reduction

Grow your business

Reducing emissions can help grow your business more efficiently and lower your climate impact.

Help your community

By buying local or travelling less, you’ll help the local economy and take traffic off the road.

Save money

Reducing emissions often means saving on energy, transport, procurement, and waste costs.

Qualify for funding

Some funding opportunities will require you to have a robust climate action plan in place.

Reducing energy emissions

There are many ways to reduce your building's emissions and running costs. The following are seven actions to kickstart your journey to net zero over the next three years. You’ll find that you’ll be able to implement some straightaway. Others will require some upfront investment or will take some time to show their value.

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
  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

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
  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.

Draughtproof your business

Ensure your building is well insulated, that windows and doors are draught proofed, and that hot water tanks and pipes are insulated. Consider bigger projects like loft and wall insulation, as well as easy jobs like draught proofing. Identify drafty areas as part of your energy audit.

Steps to take

  1. Implement some simple DIY solutions. You don't always need to buy expensive insulation to make improvements and reduce heat loss. There are many small and cost-effective things you can instal to greatly reduce drafts. Check out simple draught reduction tips in our “keeping cosy” factsheet.
  2. Bring in specialist contractors. When dealing with electricals or making changes to historic buildings, expert help might be needed. Find guidance on adapting historic or scheduled buildings on

Increase staff awareness of energy efficiency

Staff training and participation is key to many energy saving measures being successful. Always make sure staff know what to do, and what positive impact their actions have. No matter the size of your business, upskilling yourself / your team and changing how you do things in your workspace is one of the most essential steps for saving energy.

Steps to take

  1. Establish your current level of energy saving knowledge. This could be through informal chats, team meetings, or simple surveys. Read a PDF by the Carbon Trust on how to create an awareness campaign.
  2. Create an energy saving training plan. Consider which job roles or departments use the most energy and tackle those areas first. Find free training, resources, and workshops on
  3. Appoint an energy champion or establish a green team. To roll out any training, monitor your consumption, and keep up momentum. It’s good for one person or a team to keep oversight.
  4. Review and measure success. As an energy champion, feedback to your team while you monitor your emissions. This can help to remind everyone of best energy saving practices, but it also lets you celebrate successes and keep motivation high.

Consider solar panels on your roof

Save money in the long-run and reduce your emissions by putting in a renewable energy system like solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. They’re not for everyone, it will depend on your finances, roof direction / pitch, and location.

Steps to take

  1. Check if solar is right for you. Solar panels can protect you from rising energy costs and provide fully green energy for up to 30 years. A local installer might be able to provide insight into potential solutions for your property. Find a renewables installer on
  2. Explore funding options. Solar can be a big investment so it’s wise to monitor grants and funding and start to budget for the change. Find solar panel guidance and financial support on
  3. Install solar panels. This could allow you to generate extra income as you may be able to sell what you generate back to the grid. Check whether any installer is MCS certified on

Invest in your building fabric

Investing in your building (insulation, windows etc) can save you significant money in the long-run and will improve your EPC rating. Enhancements can range from improved insulation to better doors and windows. Make sure you choose the most energy efficient options available and consider what materials are being used.

Steps to take

  1. Check your current efficiency standards. Discover how to get an EPC on and initiate conversations with an assessor. Search for an assessor or advisor on
  2. Seek guidance for traditional / historic buildings. Before making changes it’s important to find out what measures your property will benefit from and whether any policy changes impact you. Find guidance on adapting historic or scheduled buildings on
  3. Explore funding options. Funding may be available from sources such as your local heritage trust, council, or the Scottish Government. Find grants and loans for energy saving improvements on
  4. Make upgrades. Seek out the appropriate specialist contractors and schedule the work.

Change to a green heat source

 Changing to a green source of heat generation (e.g. heat pumps) is one of the most important ways for you to reach net zero. This might require an upfront investment but will save you money in the long-run and allow for a sustainable business model going into the future.

Steps to take

  1. Establish what your energy options are. Seek out free, impartial advice on the best options for your business. Options include heat pumps, solar water heating and biomass as a lower carbon option. Combining multiple systems can complement each other. You can:
  1. Consider your energy savings. Plot out exactly how much each energy source will cost you to install and maintain and how much money it will save you over the next couple of years. You can:
  1. Explore funding options. There are options for business free loans with cashback. Browse support on or read about the SME loan scheme on

Reducing transport emissions

Transport is a major contributor to carbon emissions in Scotland in general and for the tourism sector in particular. The following are four actions to kickstart your journey to net zero over the next couple of years. You’ll find that you’ll be able to implement some straightaway. Others will require some upfront investment or will take some time to show their value.

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.

Create a low carbon travel fund

The idea is that you would tax or regulate your travel choices and then set aside the money from that into a fund that would usually be used to discount more sustainable travel choices.

For this to work, you basically have to play the role of a kind of “finance minister” but within your own business. So, you “tax” more polluting forms of your business travel and put that money into a “money jar” / fund. This is called “carbon pricing”, essentially putting a price on the carbon you emit.

Steps to take

  1. Set the “carbon tax” for the current year. Experts recommend a minimum of £80 per tonne of carbon, because a lesser amount might not have the impact you need. However, as a voluntary exercise, it’s at your discretion.
  2. Calculate your carbon emissions for the previous year(s). Look at the modes of transport you regularly use that might be higher emitters, such as planes, or petrol or diesel cars.
  3. “Tax” everything at first, then subsidise the journeys with a lower carbon footprint. Start retrospectively. Once you’ve built up money into your “money jar” / fund, you could begin to plan future trips. If you take regular journeys, you could consider taking the money aside from flying or driving and subsidising rail or bus fares that might be more expensive but lower emissions.
  4. Use a carbon calculator. This will allow you to compare modes of transport and help you find the lowest emission option for your specific transport need.

Change to an electric vehicle

Switching to electric vehicles can be a great way to decrease your emissions. They may have a bigger upfront cost than petrol or diesel vehicles, but they also have a lower cost per mile, cheaper maintenance, and a lower road tax.

In the long-run, they’ll even pay for themselves, provided you have a green energy supplier that supports EV usage.

Steps to take

  1. Work out the costs of your current vehicles. This will help you set a benchmark for when switching to EVs will be cheaper. Also look at long-term lease car or van options for you and your company. There might a benefit-in-kind option that makes owning an EV accessible for you. Find out more about EVs on
  2. Set aside a budget. Plan the costs of switching to an EV into your net zero roadmap. Set a target and manage what you need to put aside to make the switch affordable. Browse used electric vehicle loans on

Install electric vehicle charge points

Electric vehicles are growing in popularity due to their lower running costs. We expect an increased number of visitors travelling to and around Scotland in EVs.

The country should see demand increase for easily accessible EV charge points. This provides a great opportunity for tourism businesses to include EV charging in their offering. You can either provide them yourself or inform visitors of the nearest charge point.

Steps to take

  1. Install EV infrastructure. Install charge points at your business to make it easier for customers (and staff) to make low carbon choices. Doing so might give you a leg up on the competition. Choosing what charge point is best suited for your business is important. Take a look at our EV charge point factsheet.
  2. Check out available grants. There are many funding options available with high demand. Funds are constantly updated and might vary in amounts and application criteria. Register your interest so you are notified by email for:
  1. Look at your local charging infrastructure. Explore how you could plan your trips with an EV vehicle on or plan your journeys with an EV on

Reducing waste emissions

Most of Scotland’s carbon emissions come from the heat and energy needed to grow, make, process, transport, and provide goods and materials. When it comes to your business' waste, consider how you could potentially reuse, recycle, or re-purpose. The following are three actions to kickstart your journey to net zero over the next couple of years. You’ll find that you’ll be able to implement some straightaway. Others will require some upfront investment or will take some time to show their value.

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
  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 or read more on the circular economy on
  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
  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.

Managing food waste

Food waste costs Scottish hospitality outlets an average of £10,000 a year, with the equivalent of one in six meals served ending up straight in the bin.

Not only is that a huge drain on business resources, but it also contributes significantly to climate change, through greenhouse gas emissions like methane and CO2.

You can reduce your emissions – and save money – by looking at the choices you make when buying, preparing, and disposing of food and drink.

Steps to take

  1. Measure your food waste. Measuring your waste allows you to get a better picture of the food waste generated, where it’s generated (e.g. prep waste, plate waste, or spoilage), the amount, and why. Sign up to the “one month challenge” and get free resources on
  2. Buy only what you need. Only buy what you need and bulk buy non-perishable items. If possible, have one person in charge of purchasing food to avoid duplicating your order and deepen your relationship with your suppliers.
  3. Menu planning and portion sizes. Plan menus using seasonal and local produce. Design your menu with food that produces less waste and serve food in portions that guests are likely to finish completely in one serving. You could even offer customers the option to take away anything not eaten in a carry-out box.
  4. Food preparation practices. Decrease preparation waste by reducing trimmings of vegetables, meat, and fish. Use carcasses, bones, trimmings, and more to prepare stock for sauces or soups. Track busy periods / times of the day and year to help you manage, order, and prepare food according to varying demand. Check out our food waste factsheet for more information.

More tips to reduce waste

Measure your emissions and record your actions

This free 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 three years of data and pick the actions that work best for your business – from free, quick-wins to longer term investments.


Climate action plan

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        Training resources to reduce your emissions

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