More SMEs need to address their environmental responsibilities: Joe Harris

At environmental products and services company Andel, we recently pledged our support for the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission.

Not only does it legitimise what we’re doing as an organisation to address environmental concerns but it helps spread the word to others and I hope inspire them.

Climate commissions bring together people from all sectors to work collaboratively to help drive, guide and track climate action.

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It is rare in our for SMEs of our size to be committing this much to Net Zero and Sustainability.

Joe Harris shares his insight.Joe Harris shares his insight.
Joe Harris shares his insight.

The company we are holding within the Climate Commission includes corporations, large organisations and government bodies and small companies.

I recently spoke to Mobilityways previously Lift Share, the UK’s biggest car- sharing community, about joining as a company and they told us all their products are aimed at companies with a minimum of 300 employees because currently only larger organisations are being forced by regulators to make these environmental changes.

SMEs are reluctant to put their name to environmental issues either because they don’t have the resources, the budget or the inclination and see the ESG sector as another burden to worry about.

But that is not how we work at Andel.

As a company, we have committed to being net zero by 2025.

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Some would say we’re trailblazing but what it feels like is stumbling about in the dark, trying to find a path that doesn’t really exist yet because so few have done it before us.

I can understand why some SMEs might be reluctant to put their hat in the ring. I was initially worried about committing Andel in fear that if we did not meet the standards required, we could publicly have our wrists slapped. And I did not want us to pay lip service to our pledge and be accused of


The whole pledge can be confusing too. There is a lot of legal terminology and there appear to be different rules for different organisations and different standards in different countries.

But what’s important to remember is that we are legitimately trying to reduce our carbon footprint. That you just need to try your best. That every little bit helps.

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What’s certainly helped us is that I have 100 per cent buy-in from management at the highest level in Andel. I can ask questions, request information, and suggest changes and it is seen as a help not a hindrance. That is extremely important if you’re going to sign up for climate commissions.

According to UK government figures, last year there were 5.5 million SMEs with zero to 250 employees.

According to the Office for National Statistics last year in the Leeds City Region there were around 150,000 SMEs accounting for around 600,000 employees.

That’s a lot of people in Leeds alone who could make a difference, not counting the wider county and Yorkshire as a whole.

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If more SMEs got on board, it would make the path easier for us all, change would reach more parts of the UK workforce.

The whole point of a climate commission is to do good as a community and work together to elicit change and that includes SMEs too.

Joe Harris is Net Zero & Sustainability Co-ordinator for Andel