Don’t Shy Away From A Green Fleet

By embracing simple initiatives SMEs can benefit from greener motoring and enviable CSR credentials says Venson

Small-to-medium enterprises (SME’s) accounted for 61% of employment in the UK last year[i], and collectively should be a key driver in reducing the UK’s carbon footprint. However, says Venson Automotive Solutions, the majority lack time and resources to commit to going green. A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitment developed in partnership between employees responsible for human resources and fleet management, could be the key to SMEs supporting the UK’s net zero ambition.

Alison Bell, Operations Director of Venson Automotive Solutions explains, “As we get closer to the government’s target of reaching net zero by 2030, even the smallest businesses are faced with increasing pressure to integrate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting into their practices and business models. Implementing a sound CSR programme can address this need, but we urge SMEs not to balk at the thought of its introduction. It doesn’t need to be an all-singing, all-dancing policy, small steps can make a big difference.”

Adding EVs to a fleet is the obvious first step. Although the upfront cost of EVs may raise eyebrows amongst smaller business owners who have a constant eye on the bottom line, the total cost of ownership (TCO) should be considered. EV’s have fewer moving parts, contributing to lower maintenance costs, meaning the TCO of an EV is favourable compared to the TCO of an internal combustion engine (ICE).

Keeping a watch on grey fleet usage is paramount in reducing carbon footprint for smaller fleets too.  Typically, grey fleet vehicles are older and more polluting than alternatives, such as company or pool cars,[ii] so, making simple changes that will help make grey fleet a last resort for staff can help reduce grey miles. For those employees who choose to opt out of the company car scheme, capping CO2 and providing an incentive to do so can help, formulating mileage rates that are realistic and not an incentive to drive more miles, and encouraging the use of a pool car or car sharing for trips with colleagues.

Furthermore, with fuel prices continuing to soar, more people are thinking about how their driving behaviour can save pounds at the pump, happily resulting in a reduced carbon footprint. Getting SME employees engaged in changing their driving habits, either with expert driver training on reducing fuel consumption, or just common sense tips, is key.

Alison Bell concludes, “Whether it’s reviewing a grey fleet, adding EVs to fleet lists or motivating employees to simply change their driving habits for the better, all count. But it’s not just about leveraging opportunities for an eco-friendlier fleet though. SME’s can easily make social and environmental differences in the wider workplace too. Investigating green energy providers, sponsoring or encouraging staff engagement with local environmental projects and promoting recycling in the workplace are all easy wins.”

Venson’s ten tips to reduce carbon footprint and boost CSR credentials for SMEs

  1. Get a grip on your grey fleet and understand what miles are being driven and if there are greener alternatives.
  2. Encourage the use of a pool car or car sharing for trips with colleagues.
  3. Don’t shy away from upfront electric vehicle costs. Total cost of ownership is generally less than petrol or diesel so add electric vehicles to company car options lists.
  4. Investigate Government incentive schemes for going green.
  5. Encourage fuel efficient driving habits – the Energy Saving Trust offers free guidance
  6. Educate staff on smart navigation apps which use live traffic information to help them avoid congested roads and get to their destination via the most fuel-efficient route.
  7. Investigate green energy providers for your workplace.