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SPONSORED: Equipping Scotland’s businesses with net-zero know-how for a greener economy

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As the countdown begins to next month’s United Nations COP26 conference in Glasgow, the spotlight will fall on Scotland in the climate fight crisis, reminding us that we all need to play our part. Reducing carbon emissions and achieving net-zero is the solution for not only our planet, but also for your business.

Starting your journey to net-zero is not only an investment in your businesses’ long-term profitability but means that you are doing your bit for Scotland’s ambitious climate targets. Meanwhile, it also signifies new market opportunities, industry kudos, employee wellbeing and increased staff retention within your business.

The route to net-zero is by no means linear but getting started can be as simple as implementing waste reduction and recycling schemes, using electric vehicles where possible, and carbon offsetting if necessary.

Sustainability support

We all need to take action, and there is help available to support those businesses that are ready to do so. Scotland’s enterprise agencies and public sector partners are working together to encourage businesses to take advantage of the sustainability support available across the business support landscape. With an online central hub of information available, we have the resources and advice to support every sector, which also highlights the opportunities that are emerging in the race to net-zero.

80% of businesses surveyed in a recent online study said they were aware of Scotland’s target of achieving net-zero emissions and were committed to playing their part to ensure this target is met. Yet, many find it difficult to build a net-zero approach into their day-to-day practices and future strategies, with survey participants citing cost, lack of information, time, and resource constraints as key barriers.

Net-zero is a long-term vision and is aimed at reducing costs, minimising environmental impacts, building resilience, protecting your business from risks, and ensuring that it can respond to any challenges and opportunities in the future. By making small changes and working collectively, businesses can help Scotland to be a net-zero Nation by 2045 and contribute to the green economy. Now is the time to take action.

Here’s how one business has been working towards its net-zero target….

Clothing rental firm shows journey to net-zero is in fashion

One business that has been committed to sustainability since its inception in 1997 is ACS Clothing, a back-end fulfilment specialist in the fashion rental industry.

Lanarkshire-based ACS Clothing’s core business focuses on rental and renewal, an inherently circular model that aims to extend the life of clothing and reduce textile waste. Given that the fashion industry is one of the highest polluting industries in the world, the business signed up to the UN’s Race to Zero campaign and embarked on its own net-zero journey in 2018.

With an extensive public sector support network, ACS Clothing is a Scottish Enterprise managed account, with specialist advisers appointed to guide the brand’s journey to net-zero. The business partners with a multitude of other organisations, including Zero Waste Scotland, as well as regularly meeting with the Scottish Government to discuss issues such as sustainability and, most recently, recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reducing emissions

A proud Zero Waste business, all excess materials from the site’s warehouse are reused or recycled, with the by-product from its cleaning process even being recycled into building bricks. ACS Clothing also operates as a carbon neutral organisation, with a team of sustainability experts working closely with ClimatePartner to identify ways of reducing the business’ emissions and offsetting them where necessary.

ACS Clothing believes that having implemented changes early in the game puts the brand in a solid position for future growth. Cost savings, investment in its future, as well as alignment in values with brand partners, are just some of the benefits the company lists as direct results of its journey to net-zero.

Danielle Moran, ACS Clothing, said: “As information on the carbon footprint of fashion became common knowledge, we realised that we were in a position to create positive change. I would strongly recommend other businesses to embark on their journey. There is no better time to start than now.

“My advice would be to embrace the coming changes and learn as you go. Networking with like-minded businesses on a similar journey and making the most of support available through Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise is also crucial in helping take your first step to becoming net-zero.”

Wherever you are on your journey to achieving net-zero, remember that there are support and resources available, as well as specialist advice, which can all be found on Scotland’s enterprise agencies.

Visit the Net Zero Nation website for more information on how you can contribute to the race to net-zero and start making changes today.