‘What does it mean to ‘go green’ in business?’

There’s a lot of jargon around to describe what it means to ‘go green’ or be more ‘sustainable’. We want to help you cut through the noise and understand what it’s all about, and how you can play your part in reducing the impact you make on the environment, through exploring all the aspects of how you run and conduct your business. Whether you are home based, trade from a shop, office or unit base, there are may ways you can help to do your bit for the planet, as well as improve your profitability, increase your customer base and brand perception.

Through our workshops, expert one-to-one advice, and access to leading market data, we can help you realise the part your business can play in combatting climate change and the business benefits of green growth. You would be surprised at the small changes you can make that all help to make a difference.

What exactly is a ‘green’ business?

A green business can be one of two things:

      1. You develop environmentally friendly products or provide environmentally friendly services. For example, reuseable cups, recycled plastic product or an electric bike delivery service.
      2. Your products and services aren’t necessarily environmentally friendly, but you do everything you can to reduce their environmental impact. For example, you source materials and services from other green businesses, use low-carbon or renewable energy to power your buildings and processes, and use recyclable packaging wherever possible to reduce waste.

Every business can come under the second category with a little bit of guidance and creativity, and the good news is, it’s easier than you might think! As an entrepreneur, you already have the creativity, and we can provide the guidance.

Why does it matter to me?

Customers are increasingly more conscious of the impact their spend has on the environment and this is driving businesses to respond, whether that’s ensuring their products are developed and packaged using sustainable materials or changing the way services are delivered to minimise impact. Market intelligence shows consumer trends in more conscious purchasing, meaning businesses need to adapt to their customer’s demands and see the opportunities to attract more sales by adopting greener business practices.

Consumers’ top five most important environmentally sustainable or ethical practices are:

  • Producing sustainable packaging and products
  • Reducing waste in manufacturing process
  • Committing to ethical working practices
  • Reducing carbon footprint
  • Respect for human rights

Source: Deloitte: How consumers are embracing sustainability study, June 2022 – https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/sustainable-consumer.html

Previous economic growth and profit-centred business models have led to our current state of rapid climate change, which is having severe consequences across the world. In the UK, there is increased risk of coastal flooding, warmer temperatures, and more frequent and intense storms.

Nearly 1 in 3 commercial properties in the UK are at risk from flooding. (Aviva)

This increased risk affects internal business operations, transport of goods and supply chains. We are therefore all at risk from the effects of climate change and have a part to play in reducing the impact of our businesses.

So, how can I grow my business in a planet-friendly way?

There is a new type of business growth – green growth! In a nutshell, this is all about becoming more aware of the environmental impact of your business, taking steps to reduce it and being rewarded with the associated benefits. This is the business growth mechanism of the future and will ensure you stay ahead of the curve.

Save money on energy costs by reducing consumption and increasing reliance on renewable energy.
Gain a competitive advantage in the market and attract new customers that choose to buy from businesses that are ethical and environmentally friendly.
Build business resilience by reducing reliance on non-renewable energy and future-proofing your business plans.
If sub-contracting to a larger organisation or securing public-sector contracts, make sure you are eligible to take part in the bidding process by being able to demonstrate your green business credentials.

How do I go green?

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and this is where your creativity comes in. We are all learning together and the best approach is to work collaboratively and share information. Here are some ideas to consider:

Energy efficiency


Reduce energy consumption by turning the thermostat down and ensuring timers are set to minimise out of hours consumption.
Replace all lighting with LEDs to reduce electricity use, create a nicer working environment and better customer experience.
Up to 25% of heat loss can be through the roof, 35% through the walls and 25% through doors and windows. Consider installing extra insulation and draught proofing in these areas.
Make sure to switch computers off when not in use and when replacing, consider using laptops, which can be up to 80% more energy efficient. When replacing any electrical equipment, try to purchase items with an A+ energy rating.
Switch to renewable energy where possible; consider installing solar panels or heat pumps.
Try to limit business travel; do meetings need to be in-person or can they be virtual? When replacing business vehicles, consider electric or hybrid cars and vans.

Waste reduction

The equivalent of 5 rubbish bags of plastic from every foot of coastline around the world, is released into the oceans every year. (National Geographic)

Think about what packaging your business really needs and where you can remove non-essential items. Can you replace single-use plastic packaging with a recyclable or biodegradable alternative for the same or an even cheaper price?
If selling products direct to the public, try encouraging customers to bring their own packaging or provide reusable alternatives.

Engage employees, customers and suppliers

Share your changes with customers and promote your green credentials.
Encourage employees to use public transport or carpool where possible when travelling to and from work. Ask employees for feedback on your ‘green’ plans and actively engage them in making changes.
Ask your suppliers about their green plans and don’t be afraid to constructively criticise if you feel they could do something differently – it’s all about sharing ideas and learning from each other.

Get creative

Your business is unique and so is your green growth plan. You know your business best so have fun creating innovative solutions. Most importantly, enjoy the process – it’s not about crossing off a to-do list or following set guidelines, it’s about showcasing the best your business can offer.

Green Business Inspiration

Examples of what other businesses are doing to go ‘green’:


How we can help you?

Join our newsletter to receive updates about upcoming free green business events and workshops.

Book a market research session to access MINTEL market data and gain insight into customer attitudes towards green business.

Listen to our Podcast to hear about green growth and sustainability from our experts and businesses that have been on this business journey.

Speak with one of our experts for one-to-one advice:

Our Green Business Experts can provide you with one to one advice for your business. Simply click on the Expert’s profile page link below and complete the booking form.

Environmental Sustainability – Carbon Foot Printing Expert, James Staniforth

Sustainability and Green Business Expert, Ian Brown

Green Business and Retail Expert, Victoria Robertshaw

Food Sustainability Expert, Jess Miller


Greenstreet Newcastle

Greenstreet is an exciting new project we are piloting with businesses in the East End of Newcastle in early 2023. Greenstreet has been piloted in Bradford www.greenstreet.org.uk and we looking to work with 20 – 25 businesses in and around the main high street areas of the East End of the city to help them:
– identify ways they can improve their environmental impact (this could be anything from reducing energy use/cost, waste, water to products and materials)
– help the businesses to achieve green and sustainable improvements
– support businesses to trial new ideas and invest in improvements that will have a positive environmental impact by providing grant support to fully-fund trialling new ideas or to contribute towards larger investments.
– look at ways the businesses can collaborate (anything from shared resources, i.e recycle bins, waste products and surpluses etc)
– use their green credentials to grow their customer base (using the Greenstreet brand to identify being a ‘green’ business)

These are just some of the ways we will look to work with local businesses. We will have a small grant to help with testing things out, investing in changes that help make the business operate or provide products or services in a more sustainable way. We are also hoping to get on board some businesses that are really doing great things in this area who can act as a role model, share their knowledge and experience and help others along too.

If you would be interested in participating in Greenstreet, please register your details on the Greenstreet website here – https://greenstreet.org.uk/join-us/ At this stage this is just an expression of interest, rather than a firm commitment from you.

We’re likely to kick off with a social meet up, probably in early January, to talk in more detail and give you an idea of timescales so that you can make a better informed decision as to whether you’d like to participate.

Any further questions?

Please get in touch at bipcnortheast@newcastle.gov.uk if you have any questions. If we can’t advise, we will point you in the right direction of someone who can.

If you’re interested in a free energy audit and potential grant funding towards the capital costs of energy saving measures, please see the Business Energy Saving Programme (BEST).

Our green retail expert, Victoria Robertshaw, has co-created the GreenStreet website and a useful ‘Planet Friendly Guide’ with further ideas on how to green your business.

If you are a Newcastle-based business, please visit Newcastle City Council’s Net Zero: Business support page for further information on support available.

Other useful sources of information

The Planet Friendly Guide | Green Street | Planet Friendly Retail

Small business sustainability hub | FSB, The Federation of Small Businesses

Zero Carbon Business – find advice on net zero for SMEs in the UK

Carbon reduction and net zero for SMEs | The Carbon Trust

Energy Saving Trust

UK – SME Climate hub (businessclimatehub.org)

WRAP – The Climate Crisis: Act Now

Get in touch with BIPC North East

Contact us today if you’re interested in receiving business support. We'll help give you the skills, confidence and knowledge to grow and protect your business.

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The North of Tyne Combined Authority is a partnership of three local authorities: Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside Council, and Northumberland County Council and the North of Tyne Elected Mayor. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-shared-prosperity-fund-prospectus