Beyond electric: top 6 steps fleets can take to boost their ESG credentials
Over recent years, one of the main areas of focus for the fleet transport sector has been decarbonisation, with electrification front and centre.
However, there’s a wider environmental, social and governance (ESG) picture that organisations should not lose sight of.
So what is ESG and why is it important for businesses with fleets?
ESG has become widely used to measure the ethical standards of an organisation, with the acronym comprising the following criteria:
- Environmental: a company’s impact on the environment
- Social: a company’s people interactions, with employees, customers, suppliers and the wider community
- Governance: how a company operates
Integrating ESG into your business framework can help to boost business reputation, secure investment, reduce costs, and work as a tool to attract employees, customers and suppliers.
Here, we delve deeper into the importance of ESG and share 6 top steps businesses with fleets can take to improve their ESG credentials.
Recycling: from vehicle to back office
Despite government and societal efforts, large quantities of ‘waste’ materials are still being sent to landfill.
What can businesses do to reduce the amount of waste they are generating?
Implementing a recycling strategy is key, with an assessment to analyse the type of waste being produced and how it can be recycled a crucial first step.
Fleets should look beyond the back office and also consider the sustainability of the vehicles they’re procuring.
Auto manufacturers are constantly striving to improve the environmental credentials of their vehicles – whether that’s using tyres made out of recycled bottles or interiors made from recycled plastic, powdered wood and volcanic stone. At IAA Mobility 2021, BMW went one step further, unveiling its ‘100% recyclable vehicle’ – which, significantly, can also be recycled.
Paper-based processes and administration is still a big part of business.
With more than 15 billion trees trees cut down annually, however, organisations should be exploring ways to reduce, or completely eradicate, paper usage. For fleets, this calls for an increasingly digitised modus operandi.
When the pandemic hit, the world of business had to step up and automate services to enable seamless remote working. Many organisations, however, are still reliant rely on pen and paper processes to support their vehicle operations. Research by Webfleet Solutions found that amongst those UK companies that failed to adopt digital solutions during the pandemic, 28 per cent cited cost as a barrier, while 22 per cent said they lacked the time or resources to implement new systems.
There are multiple technologies that fleets can introduce however that offer considerable time and financial ROI and cut paper usage, from telematics platforms to driver companion apps that digitise a range of administrative task (such as our MOVE driver app).
Giving back: the ‘S’ of ESG
In a post-Covid world, scrutiny over business treatment of employees, stakeholders and the wider community has increased.
Expectations have raised. Organisations can no longer claim to have a purpose statement and hold specific values, but fail to follow through on them. Rather, they should be continually reviewing how they can positively influence their social ESG ‘score’ – from implementing diversity and inclusion policies and ensuring safe workplaces to guaranteeing fair pay and providing staff training.
Moreover, this commitment should extend beyond the office environment. Following the pandemic, ‘building back better’ has become a notable mantra, and supporting sustainable, thriving and inclusive communities will help demonstrate your role as a responsible employer.
This includes supporting charitable causes and initiatives that align with your corporate values and objectives. For our part, to mark Fleet Operations’ 20th anniversary, we have set out to raise £20,000 for 20 different charities – discover more here.
Smart energy management is critical for any business, but especially for fleets.
Regardless of the powertrain, there are numerous ways for fleets to save energy derived from their vehicles, from effective vehicle maintenance and rightsizing vehicles to improving driver behaviour and route optimisation.
For businesses running EVs, green energy options for charging should be explored. These can include green tariffs, using on-site wind turbines or solar panels or scheduling vehicle charging to align with cleaner energy availability.
Energy wastage in the back office can also be a problem. According to a report by think tank Green Alliance, energy wasted by office buildings across five cities was found to cost businesses £60 million in unnecessary bills – a figure that looks set to rise as energy prices soar.
With more than a quarter of electricity used in office buildings generated by lighting, smart management systems can offer a solution. Inefficient light bulbs should be phased out and replaced with LED bulbs (which use 90 per cent less energy), while motion sensors and advanced lighting controls to schedule, dim and react to occupancy and daylight levels should be considered.
Buildings should be well insulated to reduce heat loss with timers and smart heating controls introduced help make the working environment more energy efficient.
Promoting sustainable working practices
Fleet managers will understand, more than most, the importance of garnering employee buy-in when revising operational processes. Take, for example, the introduction of telematics systems.
The same is true when it comes to promoting environmentally-friendly ways of working. An HSBC survey revealed that the majority (96 per cent) of business leaders understand that getting workforce buy-in is essential for establishing sustainability practices. Indeed, half said they were planning to train or educate their employees on ESG issues.
To increase knowledge and engagement amongst the workforce, company-wide awareness campaigns can have an important role to play.
Businesses can also host green team-bonding activities, such as litterpicking, or offer bike and car-sharing schemes to encourage cleaner travel and commuting.
Driver behaviour software, meanwhile, can provide valuable performance insights and signpost where training initiatives are needed. Supporting in-vehicle technology is available that offers feedback and coaching, enabling drivers to make real-time adjustments behind the wheel to cut their fuel consumption and carbon footprint.
Greening the supply chain
To become truly sustainable, organisations should look beyond their own operations, choosing fleet suppliers that place equal importance on socially responsible business practices.
Look for suppliers that have green accreditations and certifications, such as ISO 14001 for environmental management, and review their sustainability objectives, targets and metrics. It can also be worth checking to ensure a prospective supplier partner has not fallen foul of environmental regulations.
Service level agreements (SLAs) can be drawn up that ensure suppliers are proactively managing their environmental impact, whether through waste reduction, cleaner travel or using greener materials and renewable energy.
Contact our sustainability experts to discover how we can help you to green your fleet operations. Email firstname.lastname@example.org