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Sustainability planning tool

Use our specially designed Sustainability Planning Tool to create an individual action plan for your business.

Find out moreby viewing our sustainability planning tool.

Sustainability in the workplace is about being a responsible business and is often defined as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.

It makes sense to run your business in a lasting and responsible way, position it to take advantage of opportunities, respond to challenges and leave behind a positive legacy. It’s also something that’s becoming increasingly important to clients, shareholders and investors.

Our guide will help you discover the benefits of sustainability, create an action plan and policy tailored for your business and show you where to go for guidance and support.

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Benefits of being a sustainable business

There are sound business reasons for adopting sustainable business practices:

  • Economic – drive down costs through operational efficiencies and avoid disruptions and delays to ensure the business keeps running
  • Tap into a growing market – the UK’s low carbon economy is estimated to be worth in excess of £120 billion in annual sales across its supply chain. The figure is from a 2014 report, and the Carbon Trust does not appear to have revised the figure since. As it is a projected figure for 2020 it’s still relevant.
  • Be prepared for contract tendering – all Government departments and many large organisations require their suppliers to ‘green’ their operations so get ahead of the game to improve your chances of winning contracts
  • Reputation – you can help build your brand by promoting your responsible business and ‘green’ credentials

Staff engagement and retention – it is widely accepted that employees who are engaged in sustainability and community support programmes show more commitment to the organisation through ‘discretionary effort’ in their work.

Business resilience

The long term success of your business may depend on your ability to cope with a changing environment and how effectively you have planned for when things go wrong.

Here are some key issues to consider and plan for:

  • The short and long term availability of essential resources and raw materials e.g. energy, fuel and rare metals
  • The security of your supply chain – check your exposure to operational or supply chain failures
  • Do you comply with regulations for waste management, use of hazardous materials and pollution?
  • Are you aware of current and forthcoming legislation for your sector (including legislation from any country you transact with)?
  • Horizon scan for technological advances that could impact your business e.g. 3D printing and its potential in manufacturing
  • The impacts of severe weather on staff, clients, premises, deliveries and your supply chain.
  • Have you established or updated a ‘disaster recovery’ plan?

Like sustainability it’s easy to dismiss business resilience as a ‘nice to have’ but a 2014 survey from the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) reported that 76% of respondents had experienced at least one supply chain disruption during the previous twelve months. Loss of productivity, increased cost of working, and loss of revenue were reported as the top three most common consequences.

The circular economy

Many businesses still run a ‘take, make, dispose’ model which relies on easily accessible resources and energy. That model will become increasingly challenging to operate in as resources and raw materials become scarce and their costs become prohibitive. Adopting Circular Economy Principles can help to reduce the costs and risks to your supply chain.

The first step is to consider how a product will be disposed of when you design it. Where possible the product is designed in such a way that it can be disassembled and components recovered, recycled and reused. This will help to reduce waste going to landfill or being sent overseas for disposal. Also you will be helping to secure the supply of rare/raw materials for the future and guard against price volatility.

Taking this new approach gives you the opportunity to be creative and collaborate with other businesses or your supply chain. It’s also worth investigating what other businesses have achieved. One good source of case studies is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation website.

Tools to help you

There are many benefits to becoming a more sustainable business and that’s why we have developed a free sustainability planning tool and policy guide to help get you started.

Build your sustainability action plan

The Sustainability Planning Tool will help you create your own action plan by setting goals, actions and targets. You can use the action plan to drive activity and change within your business. Also to get ‘buy-in’ from colleagues. The tool is free to anyone – you do not have to be a Bank of Scotland client to access it.

Create a sustainability policy

Register for the tool to access our sustainability policy writing guide and templates. A policy can be a vital part of tendering for contracts and demonstrates your sustainability commitments to clients, shareholders, investors and your supply chain by adding the policy to your website and promotional material.

Free sustainability posters

Also available from the tool are free Sustainability Posters which you can download and display in your workplace to encourage energy saving behaviours.

Useful links

These links will take you through to organisations that can help you with your sustainability plans and provide guidance including funding schemes and meeting legislative requirements.

Energy Saving Trust – Scotland

A non-profit organisation helping businesses to reduce CO2 emissions through energy efficiency, transport management, and utilising technology.

Forbury Investment Network

The Forbury Investment Network helps to bring together investors and organisations looking to develop new environmental technologies and services.


NetRegs provide environmental legislation details for over 30 different business sectors - including the required environmental permits and licences.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

SEPA help businesses focus on waste management, air pollution, climate change, regulation and environmental initiatives.

Lex Autolease

Lex Autolease is the UK’s largest fleet leasing company. They can support you in managing a ‘greener’ fleet and provide a range of low emission vehicles including electric and hybrid vehicles.

Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group

Set up to help Scotland achieve its environmental targets the group membership consists of universities, businesses, government and charities. They focus on business engagement, built environment, land use and forestry, transportation, finance, challenges and opportunities.

Scottish Enterprise

Scottish Enterprise can provide training and one-to-one support to develop high growth businesses based in Scotland.

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Our commitment to Scottish business

We're committed to helping Scottish businesses grow and develop by giving them the support they need – our Business Charter will tell you more.

Business mentoring

Could your business benefit from the support of a business mentor? MentorSME, a free online service, enables you to find local independent mentoring organisations.

Green, clean and lean

Discover how you can turn sustainability into a competitive edge.