Going greener

How can my Sandwell business do more to protect the environment?

The situation is urgent: we need to reduce our impact on the world. In business, the goal is sustainability: carrying out our work without negatively affecting the environment for future generations. Our ‘going greener’ resources will help your Sandwell business play its part in conserving energy, reducing carbon use and carbon dioxide emissions, and helping to prevent human-made climate change.

Understand what ‘reducing carbon emissions’ means

We all know that we need to reduce our environmental impact but this is a big, unwieldy topic – and the concept of carbon emissions is tricky to grasp. ‘An SME’s guide to reducing your carbon footprint and environmental impact’ gives a user-friendly introduction. It’s from the Retail Merchant Services and therefore geared particularly towards small businesses in the retail sector.

Lower your impact and transform your business

As well as helping the environment, making your business more energy efficient can have a positive impact on your profits and ensure you are viewed more favourably by potential clients (read our page on social value).

Below are details of schemes and funds to help you. Please note that their presence here does not equate to endorsement by Think Sandwell and Sandwell Council – we are merely gathering information that we hope will be helpful.

ARLI at the University of Birmingham
Delivered through the School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham, ARLI (which stands for ‘alternative raw materials with low impact’) offers funded advice and technical support to eligible SMEs (including in the Black Country) on developing innovative low-carbon products and processes. Learn more about ARLI and contact the team.

ATETA at the University of Birmingham
ATETA is a support programme from the Birmingham Energy Institute at the University of Birmingham. It promotes research and innovation in adopting zero carbon energy technologies for SMEs that are active in the West Midlands region – including in the Black Country. ATETA provides free access to a team of ‘Knowledge Exchange Fellows’ who help you identify ways to improve efficiency, identify new market prospects, test and demonstrate new ideas, and grow your business. Find out more and get in touch with ATETA.

BECCI Project at the University of Wolverhampton
BECCI stands for ‘Built Environment Climate Change Innovations’. Through the BECCI Project, experts at the University of Wolverhampton can support SMEs working in the built environment sector with one-to-one mentoring, identifying new market opportunities, securing exhibition space, evaluating and testing new technologies, monitoring energy use, conducting building simulations, and more. Find out more about the BECCI Project.

The Carbon Trust
This organisation provides energy-efficiency support, energy assessments and funding for SMEs in England, Scotland and Wales. Visit the Carbon Trust’s resources page for tools, guides and reports to help your business achieve its sustainability goals. This includes an SME Carbon Footprint Calculator.

Clean Growth Programme
Run by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, this initiative provides grant funding to contribute to the costs of a local consultant who will work with you to evaluate your business and develop an environmental action plan. Visit the website for more information, and to apply for the scheme.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
The government department Defra has published this guide to help businesses measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions.

EnTRESS (Environmental Technologies and Resources Efficiency Support Services)
EnTRESS uses academic research to support Black Country SMEs with adopting environmental technologies and resource efficiency processes – including carbon footprint analysis. Learn more at the University of Wolverhampton website.

Industrial Energy Transformation Fund
This government fund supports businesses with high energy use to transition to a low carbon future. Read about the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund at the government website.

Low Carbon SMEs
Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Low Carbon SMEs project gives free advice and grant support for Black Country SMEs on a range of energy efficiency challenges. Visit www.smelowcarbon.co.uk for information.

Smarter Choices
Supported by the government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Smarter Choices offers your business a free energy assessment, access to financing options and a free measurement and verification process to lower energy costs.

Turning the Black Country Green
A trading name of Wolverhampton manufacturer Aluzion Ltd, Turning the Black Country Green works with you to help you achieve carbon net zero within your organisation.

UK Government
The UK Business Climate Hub from UK Government asks you to commit to cutting carbon emissions within your business: by half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. The website lets you access valuable tools to help you understand your emissions and how to tackle them, and encourages you to share what you’re doing with your customers and community.

To help SMEs work towards net zero, BEIS (the government department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) has partnered with the British Standard Institution to offer 100,000 free downloads of BS ISO 50005 – the new energy management standard. You can download your copy of BS ISO 50005 from the BSI website.

West Midlands Low Carbon and Circular Economy Innovation Fund
The West Midlands Low Carbon and Circular Economy Innovation Fund gives food and drink manufacturers the opportunity to test their sustainable approach or product on the market and create pathways to investment.

Contact Sandwell Council

Read Sandwell Council’s page on climate change and air quality in Sandwell – as well as the council’s downloadable Climate Change Strategy.

Explore Sandwell’s Air Quality Map too.

Sandwell Council’s main website has an Earth Day page with suggestions for residents and businesses to help improve air pollution.

The council is working with faith centres in the borough to improve air quality – you may find some good ideas in the project summary.

For further support, you can contact the air quality and climate change team via climate_change@sandwell.gov.uk.

Buy products and services locally

If your business can source the goods and services you need locally, this will lower your carbon footprint, help sustain jobs, and retain and recycle money in our region.

Read our #MadeInSandwell profiles to learn about dozens of talented and diverse businesses in our borough who might just have what you’re looking for.

Make sure you’re recycling . . .

Sandwell businesses can save money on their waste disposal by recycling business waste. Take a look at Sandwell Council’s page on business recycling and waste collections.

A small action you could take at work is to collect your crisp packets and take them for recycling to Lightwoods House or the Sandwell Recycling Centre in Oldbury.

Volunteer to tackle litter

The award-winning Litter Watch, based in Tipton, offers excellent corporate volunteering opportunities, so you can build rapport within your team while giving something back to local communities. Why not adopt a Sandwell street that you and your colleagues can pledge to keep litter free?

Leave your car at home

Are you affected by the Clean Air Zone for Birmingham, which came into play in June 2021? Take a look at the #BrumBreathes website for the latest information.

Consider going electric

In April 2022, Sandwell Council and Energy Saving Trust hosted a webinar for SMEs wanting to know about the benefits of using electric vehicles for their businesses. You can watch the recording here:

This ethical driving guide from Auto Trader – ‘Understanding the sustainability of electric cars’ may be useful in your plight towards going greener.

Make a pledge

You can sign the West Midlands Net Zero Business Pledge, pioneered by the West Midlands Combined Authority, which positions your business as a leader in the net zero carbon economy and helps you prepare for climate change impacts. See what else the West Midlands Combined Authority is doing to make our region a leader in the green revolution.

You could also sign up to the SME Climate Commitment under the government’s UK Business Climate Hub and show that you care about protecting our global climate.

Plant trees

It’s the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 and a nationwide initiative – the Queen’s Green Canopy – is encouraging people to plant trees to commemorate the occasion and enhance our environment. Sandwell Business Ambassador Gurpreet Bhatia is the West Midlands Lieutenancy representative for the initiative in Sandwell: here’s what Gurpreet says.

Attend this green event

Accelerating the Transition to a Climate-Positive Future
VERGE Net Zero
Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 December (online)

You’ll find other events listed by GreenBiz – a media and events company seeking to accelerate a clean economy.

If you know of a relevant event, let us know so we can share the information.

Share your ideas

Do you have sustainability or green tips for Sandwell businesses? Perhaps you’re holding an environment-focused event that you’d like our business community to know about? Contact the Think Sandwell team today so we can share it for the benefit of others (and the earth).

Page last updated in September 2022.

:-)