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Have Brexit and COVID-19 hindered businesses’ green initiatives?

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  • May 10,2021
  • By Admin

Have Brexit and COVID-19 hindered businesses’ green initiatives?

Throughout the past decade, climate change has been pushed the forefront of many businesses long-term strategies.

Such strategies are not just for the benefit of the environment; they also cater to consumer demand. As early as 2014, the majority (55%) of consumers stated that they were willing to pay a premium for products and services from companies that have commit to a “positive social and environmental impact”, according to Nielsen.

And demand has only grown over the years. Just last year, research from Getty Images found that almost seven in ten (69%) of global consumers do “everything they can” to reduce their carbon footprint. Furthermore, 81% of consumers now expect companies to adopt more environmentally friendly practices, such as using recyclable materials in packaging.

This behaviour – both from consumers and businesses – is certainly promising. Although, the previous twelve months have admittedly made it difficult for businesses to prioritise their environmental policies.

Adapting to rapid change

Firstly, the COVID-19 pandemic has entirely upended the majority of UK businesses’ strategies. In a bid to limit the spread of the virus, the Government plunged the UK into three separate national lockdowns. This essentially caused the UK economy to close and many businesses to cease trading.

Consequently, the majority of businesses were forced to reassess their priorities, shifting focus from long-term environmental policies to short-term survival. For example, some employers may have avoided investing in expensive, recyclable packaging or decarbonisation technologies, in favour of keeping their company afloat.

Adding to the strain of businesses was Brexit. The months leading up to the Brexit deadline were fogged with uncertainty, as it looked increasingly likely that the UK would plunge out of the EU with no deal at all. As such, business leaders were forced to prepare for the unknown.

Even when a Brexit deal was reached, it was just days before the deadline, giving organisations precious little time to make practical preparations. Consequently, they were swamped with complex administrative processes, border delays and additional charges to traded goods. With significant resources required to understand and manage these new processes, environmental policies were, understandably, put on the backburner.

With this in mind, should we now assume that climate change has been wiped from businesses’ long-term plans entirely?

Cause for optimism

Positively, data suggests that UK businesses might be turning a corner.

Indeed, recent research from One World Express revealed that the majority (57%) of businesses are now confident that they understand the new post-Brexit trading rules. This could suggest that organisations may now have some capacity to re-dedicate resources to creating and implementing environmental policies.

What’s more, the gradual easing of the UK’s lockdown restrictions, teamed with the successful vaccine roll out, means that the economy is reopening, and businesses can recommence trading. With income returning, employers can now budget for spending on more environmentally friendly practices.

These practices can come in different forms. Some may consider using recyclable packaging materials, for example. Others may go further and invest in low-carbon logistical methods - using boats or trains to ship freight, rather than lorries may be worthy of consideration.

Of course, some may consider taking on logistical consultants to achieve this. At One World Express, for example, our team of experts work with business leaders to develop an efficient, cost-effective and greener strategy which suits the needs of our client’s businesses.

Brexit and COVID-19 may have forced businesses to pause their environmentally friendly activities. However, this pause is only temporary. And whilst developing and implementing environmentally friendly strategies take time, they will inevitably drive positive change.

As the UK embarks on its post-COVID recovery, and becomes better acquainted with Brexit rules, business leaders will be able to continue growing their organisation, whilst having a positive impact on the environment.