By: Martyn Ward CEO Cafe2U
With the UK set to host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which takes place in Glasgow from 31 October – 12 November 2021, there has never been a better time for British businesses to focus on their impact on the environment.
Welcoming world-renowned figures such as Joe Biden, David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, and the Queen, the conference will focus on putting pressure on the planet’s largest polluting nations while also focussing on what other nations can do to secure a ‘net zero’ future. Closer to home though, what can franchise businesses do to implement and work towards their own sustainability targets?
Firstly, it is important to look at your everyday business operations to see if there are any instant changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint. These quick wins will usually look like ‘going paperless’ – by removing all paper from head office communications – or swapping energy suppliers to one of the increasing number of ‘green energy’ providers.
Once these more obvious changes have been ticked off, it is time to take a closer look at how your operations can be future-proofed to factor in your sustainability goals. For instance, at Cafe2U we have recently launched our – and the UK’s – first all-electric coffee vans, with a view to rolling this out across our fleet of nearly 100 vans in the next five years. Coupled with a switch to compostable coffee cups, a paperless head office and a move to a green energy supplier, we have made great initial steps to our own ‘net zero’ target.
Reducing our carbon footprint is absolutely vital to us and our customers, so we’re always on the lookout for new ways to become even more sustainable. We are delighted to be leading the way in the mobile coffee market.
However, the hard work has only just begun as we not only look to test the accountability of our supply chain but also, as a franchise business, we must work to ensure all our franchise partners are engaged with us at each stage of our journey. For instance, we recently made a change to a new sandwich supplier due to them using 100% recyclable packaging. It’s these external factors that are often missed when businesses look at their sustainability profile.
It is also important to recognise that although changes can take a while to implement and roll out across a network, there will be incremental steps that can still drive improvements in the meantime. Whilst each of our franchise partners will eventually be driving an electric-powered van, with a five-year target to achieve this, we are already removing the diesel generators from existing vans and replacing them with emission-free lithium-ion batteries.
While some technologies and developments will require some investment, it is important to view this as an investment in the future of not just your business, but also the future of your staff, partners and customers too. And we are increasingly finding that potential franchise partners, and our customers, are placing sustainability at the forefront of their decision-making.
There are also a whole host of additional operational benefits these changes can bring. As well as being better for the environment, electric vehicles will enable our franchisees to access indoor events and emission-free zones, amplifying our pro-sustainability message even further. To be the world’s first is testament to the progressive nature of our brand and the hard work both our head office and franchisees put in each and every day.
While the world leaders gather in Glasgow, it has never been more important for franchise owners to ensure that pro-sustainability messaging remains consistent throughout your business by establishing your own set of in-house sustainable practices to which all your franchisees can adhere. Doing so will establish your franchise as a leader in the fight against climate change; failure to do so will risk your franchise being left behind by those who do.