Sustainability – are we on the right track?
In spite of recent political and economic issues facing Northern Ireland, companies here continue to demonstrate that sound environmental practice can contribute to business success.
The Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey annually provides a clear indicator of current environmental trends. 2018 saw more participants than ever achieve high-ranking positions in the Survey and despite the challenges of maintaining continual improvement, the majority of companies have reduced their impacts across a number of key areas including energy, waste recovery and – of particular interest to me in my role as Translink Group Chief Executive – transport.
I am committed to doing what I can to encourage the adoption of sustainable approaches to business in Northern Ireland. As a participant, (Translink has taken part in the survey every year since it began in 1998), and as Chair of the BITC Environmental Leadership Team I can see the benefits the survey offers and use my role to support and promote it.
What represents good practice when it comes to transport in businesses?
The recently published, Clean Air Strategy highlighted that air pollution is the top environmental risk to human health in the UK and that transport is a significant source of emissions causing air pollution. With over 81 million passenger journeys last year, the highest in 20 years, it’s clear that Translink already presents an environmentally-friendly option to many. As well as encouraging individuals to use sustainable transport, we continue to lead by taking steps to reduce our own environmental impact through reducing waste, recycling, resource & fuel efficiency and reducing our carbon footprint.
We know many businesses share our passion and we have worked with many to support the move out of cars and onto sustainable transport options. Working together we can achieve greater social, environmental and health benefits by facilitating more active lifestyles for employees, cutting congestion and reducing air and noise pollution for healthier cities. Last year Arup, Edwards & Co, Secure Broadcast and The Consumer Council all received awards in our #GetOnBoardNI Corporate Challenge to encourage staff to leave the car at home and use the bus or train.
In addition, with appropriate planning, changes to existing company vehicles and fleet management present an opportunity to both reduce emissions and operating costs, whether through replacement of current vehicles with Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs) or implementing effective vehicle management technology and driver training.
The opportunities for improving business-related travel are wide and varied. In recent years, examples of initiatives demonstrated by Survey participants have ranged from incentives to commute by bus and train, provision of cycle sheds, car share schemes to trialling new fuels and relocating/centralising whole business operations. So whatever the size and nature of your organisation, there will always be opportunities to do something to reduce impacts from transport.
Together our combined efforts will help to improve our local environment and secure a more sustainable future for the region.