By Andrew Childers, CEO of Meercat Associates Ltd
There’s a wide spectrum of views about global warming and the effect we are having on the planet. At one end we have the celebrity car journalists who like nothing better than burning coal and blowing up caravans and jovially dismissing the impact us humans are having on the planet as hippie nonsense.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have the likes of David Attenborough surrounded by esteem scientists who are pleading with us to limit the impact us humans are inflicting.
The scary part of that sentence is the word limit, not reverse, not repair, but limit. For if you believe the science and studies, we have already gone too far to be able to go back.
The Net Zero campaign is a UN led initiative to limit global warming to below 2 degrees. We have already reached 1 degree and the target we are really all aiming for is 1.5 degrees. There is reality in their timelines, as they know that the world is not going to change overnight, it should, it needs to, but it won’t. So, the target set is for us all to half our carbon footprints by 2030 and reach a zero footprint by 2050.
Oh, how I wish that was the time rather than the year!
Big businesses generally don’t react quickly, they are big boats to turn. However, I think they, or in fact all of us can smash those timelines.
At Meercat’s we’ve been undertaking environmental initiatives for over a decade now. We are procurement professional and started out 14 years ago purely focussed on cost reduction. It became apparent very quickly that the best way to save money on such things as electricity or gas, was simply not to use it. I’ll admit that the environmental benefit of saving carbon, was always pitched as a secondary benefit, as frankly that’s where it sat with decision makers.
I have personally undertaken countless energy reviews for businesses and provided lighting savings reports on converting to LED. It would seem a simple decision. If you buy new kit for £500 which will save you £3,000 over the next 3 years, it’s a good buy. Frustratingly our good buys, become a goodbye if upfront investment is required.
We learnt over hundreds of reviews and reports, that only 10% of businesses did what was financially and environmentally right to do. Humans hate change. Much safer to stay where we are, keep our higher costs and high carbon footprints.
I tried to overcome this by inventing a scheme where bigger energy using companies could buy their energy through us, and we’d use the commissions we make to fund the upfront investment for smaller businesses. We then provide the energy and carbon reports back to the bigger businesses, so would be part of their Social Value, CSR and carbon offsetting agendas.
Despite lots of effort and me talking until I was green in the face; the bigger businesses wouldn’t bite.
Next, we looked at promoting voltage optimisation devices. Clever bits of kit if you’ve ever seen them, but once again the change demons had to be overcome. In this instance the demon was too big and scary.
With our green brains refusing to give up we moved on to looking at the amount of waste trucks working in the same locations (there’s a lot) and we set up zero to landfill waste communities around the country, bringing businesses together consolidating their supply chains.
This one worked. Due mainly to the fact that, with the consolidation we were able to greatly reduce costs for all involved. If I’m honest I’m pretty sure that most businesses wouldn’t have cared if we were taking the waste and putting it in a big hole, they liked the lower costs. I might have gotten a little cynical over the years, but I didn’t care, this green initiative worked, and we were able to make a big difference.
We continue with these zero to landfill schemes around the UK and I’m proud to say, so far, we have won 4 environmental awards and 1 business award. We are still not done in this area. It drives us all crazy at Meercat that we purchase products, which we pay to travel in, then we unpack and then must pay again to send half back out as waste. Hey, it’s what we have always done, so must be okay, right? Wrong, there has got to be a better way and we are already working on it.
I could moan about how crazy businesses are with their practices, how frustrating it is that few seem to care, and even fewer act, even when presented with a great deal. But moaning is not our way. Our way is to find a way through the roadblocks we have encountered over the last decade and a half.
As a company and as individuals, we are fully behind the Net Zero initiative, although we know that you can’t just provide a business with carbon measurements and a strategy and expect change.
Therefore, we have pulled together our knowledge, skills, processes, solutions, and team and created a unique and workable business model to make this initiative happen and make it happen as fast as possible. Our beautiful model is simply called ZERO.
We know it has to be appealing, painless and simple to counter the roadblocks we have hit against over the years.
- Skills and Knowledge: We know businesses are going to go down a new path, that can be scary. So, they need the way paved and be led by an expert team of guides. Support must be on hand and a green supply chain needs to be in place.
- Time: Businesses and the people in them are generally time poor. A model that is easy to follow and where most of the work is undertaken externally is required for ease and speed of implementation.
- Money: If it costs, the story usually ends there. Any model has to be cost neutral or cost beneficial for a business to change.
There is one more roadblock I haven’t bullet pointed. It is personal attitude.
Over the last 14 years, I am really pleased to say that I have seen this massively improve. We are all becoming more aware and educated. We are deciding not to take our environmental advice from glorified celebrity car salesman. Rather than fearing change, we want better options. We don’t want to be leaving dirty carbon footprints.
The Net Zero initiative is a commitment for all of us to start doing the right thing.
When do you plan to start?
The best time to plant a tree was 15 years ago. The second-best time is today – Chinese proverb
Meercat is a low cost, low carbon procurement company with services to help you measure your carbon footprint and reduce emissions. To discuss this, please call us on 01444 416529 or email email@example.com