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The UK Business Climate Hub: Helping Small Businesses Strive for Sustainability

Published September 5, 2023
Published September 5, 2023
Shari Sirotnak via Unsplash

The beauty industry is working tirelessly each day to become cleaner and greener. However, this is not always a financially viable goal for small businesses. According to The Telegraph, 88% of small/medium enterprises value sustainability, yet 70% struggle to make a sustainable vision for their business a reality due to the financial pressures it poses. Recognizing this, the British Beauty Council continuously urged the UK government to provide a solution for these businesses. After anticipation surrounding these conversations, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) has created the UK Business Climate Hub—a series of digital resources to help small/medium businesses cut energy costs and consumption across their supply chains.

As said in a statement from the government, the UK Business Climate Hub "offers detailed advice on everything from sourcing products from green suppliers and reducing emissions from freight and logistics to the most cost-effective ways of installing solar panels and electric vehicle (EV) charging points.” The business resource guides brands through seven simple steps to becoming greener. These include:

1. Understanding the basics—what net zero means and why it matters
2. Involve your team—how to positively engage staff and bring in external support for your business plan
3. Make the SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) Climate Commitment—access to required tools to reduce emissions and the chance to disclose progress
4. Make a plan—measure current carbon emissions and start a plan to reduce them
5. Take action—take steps to reduce emissions dedicated to different sectors
6. Find finance and support—support on green loans, grants, and other incentives
7. Look beyond your own business—how to gain product certifications and labels while building a green supply chain 

"More and more businesses are recognizing the business benefits of reaching net zero, and we're determined to empower them to do so. The new UK Business Climate Hub is a one-stop-shop for businesses to find practical advice to reduce their carbon footprint and save on their energy bills," says Graham Stuart, the Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero (ESNZ). "Whether it's fitting a low-carbon heat pump, generating energy with solar panels, or reducing the emissions from shipping goods, the new support will ensure businesses can drive towards net zero."

The British Beauty Council consulted with the government to ensure that the business tool was suitable for beauty businesses, connecting the DESNZ with key beauty stakeholders to ensure all areas of concern were addressed and advised upon. The progress has been recognized as a positive step after the struggle British beauty businesses faced as a result of not being eligible for the government's Energy Bills Relief Scheme. The scheme benefited several UK businesses by offering support to public sector organizations such as schools and hospitals, providing a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices after an extreme price inflation last winter.

"We are pleased to see that the government is working to ensure small and medium beauty businesses are able to cut energy costs, particularly because our sector is not eligible for the Energy Bills Relief Scheme. However, there is still work to be done to ensure that beauty's small and medium businesses receive the support that they need. Often, small beauty businesses are unable to unlock the capital needed to implement more cost and planet-effective strategies. The Council will be working closely with DESNZ throughout the next phase of its strategy to ensure that increased support is funneled to the businesses that need it," adds Victoria Brownlie, Chief Policy Officer at the British Beauty Council. 

The UK Business Climate Hub comes shortly after L'Oréals Net Zero Salons Program, which similarly offers tools and advice to businesses wishing to become more sustainable. L'Oréal and Net Zero Now collaborated on the project, consulting with industry professionals to develop a "salon-specific roadmap and tool for measuring, tracking, reporting, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions." When signing up, businesses are asked to answer questions that will estimate the carbon footprint of their salon. A figure is then calculated based on data collected across similar business benchmarks in 2022 and predicts the salon's carbon footprint in real time. After receiving their estimate, along with a tailored emission reduction guide, corporations are provided with interactive reports that help them understand which areas of their business produce the most carbon emissions and offer advice on how to reduce this number.

Highly respected hairdresser and salon owner Adam Reed, who works closely with the British Beauty Council, was one of the first salon owners to utilize the Net Zero Salons Programme roadmap, stating, "I have been embarking on my salon's sustainability journey for some time, and new tools like the programme protocol are invaluable for our sector. The tool has helped me to understand where I am at on my journey by calculating and tracking, and then importantly, has helped me to accelerate with a personalized reduction plan and make my salon business more resilient for the future." Simon Heppner, co-founder of Net Zero Now at the time of the launch adds, "With net-zero initiatives now in hospitality, accountancy, tech services, and salons, we're providing tens of thousands of small beauty businesses with the tools they need to take their first steps on the road to net zero."

For the beauty industry to progress toward a more sustainable future, governments and large corporations need to offer services and advice to support businesses that may not have the bandwidth, employees, and finances to reach their desired goals organically. While the UK Business Climate Hub and Net Zero Salons Program are aiding the British market, it is now time for the rest of the world to play catch up, extending services to small businesses that ensure striving for sustainability is a journey filled with ease and optimism instead of financial worry and uncertainty.


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