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How to make your business operations sustainable

This information is provided by:Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVONetherlands Enterprise Agency RVONederlandse versie

If you run a company in the Netherlands, you will have encountered the phrase ‘sustainable business operations’ before now. What does it mean? What do you have to do? And how can you save costs by going green? Find out in this article.

What is sustainable entrepreneurship?

Sustainable entrepreneurship is about the balance between the three P’s: people, planet, profit. This means that you take into account the effects on your employees, the environment and society of the way you run your business. It is part of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Sustainable business operations can save your company money. For example, if you take energy-saving measures and use sustainable energy. You will also contribute to reducing CO2 emissions. And a sustainable or green image can contribute to the success of your company. This article will highlight some of the aspects of business operations that you could make (more) sustainable: logistics, purchasing, production, office operations, and energy.

Choose sustainable energy

With sustainable (renewable) energy, you are less dependent on oil, natural gas and coal. That can make a big difference in your energy costs. Renewable energy is the collective name for energy from natural sources:

These sources provide electricity, biogas and heat. Or a combination of one of these. The Netherlands also wants to further develop the production and use of sustainable hydrogen (in Dutch).

Note: Every office larger than 100 m2 must have at least an energy label C. The Energy Saving Explorer Offices and the step-by-step plan (in Dutch) can help you take your building to energy label C.

Climate Agreement and medium-sized enterprises

There is a Climate Agreement between companies, civil society organisations and governments. The goal is to jointly halve CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands by 2030 compared to 1990. Learn more about the climate agreement and about its impact on medium-sized enterprises (both in Dutch). You can find advice about the company building, Energie & CO2, innovation and mobility. There are also legal obligations that may apply to your company. For agricultural enterprises there is information available about circular agriculture (in Dutch).

Make use of financial arrangements

The government stimulates sustainable entrepreneurship. There are various financial and tax schemes for environmental investments:

  • MIA and Vamil (Environmental Investment Allowance and Random Depreciation of Environmental Investments). These schemes also apply to investing in electric cars.
  • ISDE (Sustainable energy investment subsidy scheme): If you want to produce your own sustainable energy in your business premises using a solar boiler or heat pump
  • SVM (Subsidy scheme Improving Sustainability of SMEs). You can apply for this subsidy if you want to make your business premises or operations more sustainable.
  • SEBA (Subsidy scheme for zero emission commercial vehicles): You can apply for this subsidy when you use zero emission commercial vehicles.

Check the Subsidy and Financing Guide (in Dutch) for more subsidies and schemes.

Use the Green Projects Scheme

You can save or invest sustainably with the Green Projects Scheme (Regeling Groenprojecten). For example, you can borrow money at a low interest rate for projects relating to sustainable building, energy saving, and sustainable mobility.

Check how far you are with your business operations

Structural sustainable business requires changes in your business operations. With the MVO start scan (in Dutch) you can check how far you are with your business operations. And which other steps will help you on your way to become a sustainable company.

Join networks

Take a look at Social Enterprise NL. This network brings social entrepreneurs together, helps with knowledge, support programmes and finding the right form of financing. Be inspired on Klimaatplein (Climate Square, in Dutch) to do business in a climate neutral way. There are various online tools and useful tips.

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