By Alex Evans, Editorial Director, National Business Awards

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) published its Natural Environment White Paper 'The Natural Choice' on 7 June 2011. The first on the natural environment for over 20 years, it describes a new way of protecting the environment which will create new market opportunities in which any UK business can play a vital part.

Launching ‘The Natural Choice’, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “The natural environment matters to us all… that’s why the true value of nature should be built in to the decisions we make – as individuals, organisations, businesses and governments – so that we become the first generation to leave the environment in a better condition than we found it.”

There are many ways to expand an organisation’s ‘green' opportunities, such as:

• Assessing how much you and your suppliers depend on natural goods and services, identifying risks and opportunities for your business

• Identifying pressure points in your supply chain which use scarce or vulnerable products and make more sustainable choices

• Encouraging your whole supply chain to act sustainably

• Highlighting the benefits of sustainability to your customers and other organisations you work with

Business Link provides a wealth of interactive case studies to help businesses identify routes to environmental sustainability.

Rigby Taylor Limited provides a one-stop shop for grounds maintenance and weed-control products for the sports turf, landscaping and amenity market. They have already been working with their suppliers to reduce the impact that their business has on the environment, and suggest the following pointers to help other businesses on their way:

• Work with key customers and suppliers and seek resource-efficiency opportunities throughout the supply chain

• Review distribution routes to increase direct deliveries to customers, therefore eliminating the need for additional routing and handling

• Reduce transport costs, utility consumption and manual-handling issues by redesigning products to improve their performance and usability for the customer

You can also find out more about opportunities for businesses to produce and trade in new low carbon goods and services in Business Link’s guide on Low carbon business opportunities

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