The general public is becoming increasingly conscious of business ethics. Look at the front pages of newspapers, Twitter feeds, the placards of street protesters and it’s clear that ethics and particularly the green aspect of business ethics is something that consumers are particularly keen to see businesses addressing, and not just with false promises.
While greener business practices undoubtedly help the planet, do CEOs really take this into consideration when deciding on their company’s eco policy? In the black and white, emotionless world of business, cold, hard profit is all that counts, right?
This may be how business is perceived, but in reality, as with all things, nothing is so black and white. Increasingly, businesses are recognising the responsibilities that they hold in improving our environment and they’re waking up to the serious cost benefits of greener company operations too.
Jonathan Lingham of specialist van and truck dealer S&B Commercials said: “We see many business owners now choosing to invest in our range of Mercedes eco-friendly transport. With sustainable travel becoming an ever increasing responsibility for businesses, many of the partners we supply to are developing strategies with the environment in mind and have found the features of eco-friendly commercial vehicles to be crucial to their eco objectives.”
At every level of business, cost reduction is key. Greener transport methods can help cut costs in a variety of ways:
Bye-bye congestion charge
For businesses based in the UK, the London congestion charge is an added cost that cuts into daily profits. Introduced in London in 2003 to help reduce traffic flow through the capital, drivers heading into central London currently have to pay £11.50 per day. This cost is only ever going to rise, with Mayor Boris Johnson recently announcing plans for an extra £10 charge to be levied on top for diesel vehicles. Birmingham City Council is also considering introducing congestion charging in the West Midlands. For low-emission green vehicles, these diesel charges can be discounted.
For the sake of public health, the government is understandably keen to encourage businesses to adopt cleaner, greener alternative fuel and transport options. By convincing more businesses to give green transport methods a try, there are now a range of government-funded incentives that companies of all sizes can benefit from in the UK. More than 11,000 claims have already been made through the Plug-In Car Grant scheme which pays businesses 25 per cent of the cost of each ultra-low emission vehicle they purchase. A 20 per cent Plug-In Van Grant has also been available since 2012.
More affordable vehicles
Green technology has come on in leaps and bounds, and it means that businesses are far less restricted when it comes to the range of green vehicles there are to choose from. Prices have reduced considerably, and companies can choose truly practical vehicles like the Mercedes Vito E-Cell, which can be fully charged to an 80-mile range, in as little as six hours.
Improved transport links
It’s not just London that’s been making strides to cut traffic emissions. Across Europe governments have introduced Low Emission Zones (LEZs) in more than 200 cities and towns in 10 countries. LEZs lay costly fees on higher emission vehicles, particularly diesel lorries and trucks, while some LEZs simply do not allow higher emission vehicles to enter at all. For businesses it means restricted transport links. For businesses operating with greener vehicles however, it means wider transport network options and reduced costs.
Avoiding those soaring fuel prices
Unleaded petrol prices have risen from just over 87p per litre in January 2014 to over 130p per litre in January of this year. The 39 per cent increase in fuel prices over the past three years has put a huge strain on every business in the UK. It has been reported by the Department for Transport that companies using greener alternatives could cut as much as 75 per cent of their fuel costs, making plug-in vehicles all the more attractive.
With schemes becoming more Eco-friendly transport options are increasingly viable for today’s businesses, in terms of practicality and affordability. Add to this the cost-saving aspect of green transport and it’s no wonder that firms today are always on the lookout for new options to save on revenue, and view eco-friendly transport as an increasingly attractive prospect for business success.