One the biggest mantras in the environmental movement has been that whilst individually changes to reduce our environmental impact seem small, collectively it makes a big difference. I’m sure many of us remember the campaigns to turn our central heating down by 1 degree, that follows the same logic.
It’s a similar thing for air quality. Whilst many people focus on the big companies who have big environmental impacts, many forget the small businesses that collectively have a huge impact. When 60% of private sector employment in the UK is with firms of less than 250 people, and with the number of these businesses rising each year, enabling them to tackle their air quality impacts collectively is important.
What’s more, its urgent. Most small businesses are unaware of the impact of Clear Air Zones on their businesses, and deliveries to these businesses have been linked to factors that cause air pollution such as traffic congestion. But when cash flow is critical, and margins are tight, tackling air quality is often an afterthought.
But there are mechanisms that, while not forcing companies to do anything, can at least make the job easier. Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), for instance, run schemes collectively on behalf of businesses within a specified area such as an employment area or town centre. Whilst much of this is promotional work, but increasingly such organisations are providing services to their members to reduce costs and tackle air quality.
For example, PaddingtonNow is encouraging its businesses to use a click and collect services to streamline local deliveries. It reduces the amount of pollution from small vehicles by targeting deliveries into specific locations, for local businesses to then pick up when suits. In a similar vein, freight consolidation centres for multiple businesses and complex infrastructure projects has for many years been standard practice, though not as widespread as many would wish them to be.
We have seen the increasing interest that many are taking in the potential for technologies to help companies achieve their environmental credentials. It is important that small companies are as empowered to tackle the issue as larger companies with greater resources to do so, and are not simply forced to do it.
Technology companies – such as EMSOL, obviously – provide the scalable capability to monitor and take action for these small companies. BIDs, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Local Authorities have the capability to support small companies. It seems like a match made in heaven to me!