Developing a sustainability plan

Developing a sustainability plan is a key step in committing your business to responsible and ethical practices. Here, we take you through the building blocks of creating a comprehensive sustainability plan for your business – big or small – to help minimise its environmental footprint, promote social responsibility, and foster long-term resilience and growth.

Audit your current situation

The first step in developing a sustainability plan is to understand your current environmental and social impact. Conduct a thorough audit of your operations to identify areas where sustainability efforts can be most effective. Consider factors such as energy consumption, waste generation, carbon emissions, supply chain ethics, and community engagement. Read our guide to conducting a sustainability audit.

Set your objectives

Once you have a better understanding of your business’ current sustainability performance, set clear and measurable objectives. Your goals should be specific, achievable, and time-bound. For instance, you might aim to reduce energy consumption by 20% within the next two years, or to achieve zero-waste status by 2030.

Involve key stakeholders – and ask for advice

Sustainability is a collective effort, so involve key stakeholders within your business. Engage employees, management, and even customers in the sustainability planning process. This inclusivity fosters a sense of shared responsibility and ensures that your sustainability plan has broad buy-in.

You may also seek advice from an environmental or sustainability consultant, someone with experience of helping other organisations make real change in their practice.

Develop a comprehensive action plan

Outline the specific steps and strategies that will help you achieve your sustainability objectives. Address each aspect of your business operations, from energy efficiency and waste reduction to responsible sourcing and product innovation. Be sure to consider how these actions align with local and international sustainability standards, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Budget, capacity, resources

Sustainability initiatives often require an initial investment of time, money, and resources. Allocate the necessary resources to implement your sustainability plan effectively. This may involve budgeting for energy-efficient equipment, and ensuring that any employees tasked with implementing changes have time to do this alongside their existing roles, and time for appropriate training. It may be difficult to do it all at once, so consider a phased approach, so you maintain progress and keep momentum.

Monitor progress

Establish a system for monitoring and measuring your progress toward your sustainability goals. Regularly track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as energy usage, waste reduction, and carbon emissions. Use data-driven insights to assess your progress, identify areas for improvement, and adapt your sustainability plan as needed.

Sustainability is an ongoing journey. Regularly review your sustainability plan and make adjustments as needed to keep going, and achieve the change in your business you want to see.

Learn more

Find out what being a sustainable business means

Read our net zero toolkit for businesses