Scotsman – Rukhsar Ahmed: Act now to stop green choices being the expensive option

As someone who keeps up to date with the UK’s push to go green, I have mixed feelings about the idea that COP26 is the coronation of the UK as a leader in environmental policy.

At my firm, Green Fulfilment, we have discovered the hard way that the government’s trade and foreign policy around Brexit has not only contradicted, but impeded, our ability to provide green choices for UK consumers and clients.

Climate collapse is exacerbated by the UK Government’s particular brand of Brexit. Due to the costs incurred by being outside the EU Single Market, my company has found itself faced with a dire choice: continue with our sustainable practices – which cost us more and more due to Brexit-related costs – or compromise our philosophy in order to keep income high. We are also not alone in facing this dilemma.

Green Fulfilment provides a way for clients to ship products to customers in a sustainable fashion. From our warehouse energy use to our packaging, we ensure that we act as a crucial green link in an often environmentally problematic supply chain.

We also understand that, for many firms, the key to environmental responsibility is the breathing space necessary to innovate. Companies must feel secure in their ability to address overheads before spending time and money looking into the crucial area of sustainability.

While green business models are the future, the nature of our modern economy still means that financially solvent but environmentally damaging companies will outlast their green counterparts who are consumed by the financial burdens of pursuing a sustainable future.

Advertisement Hide Ad Green Fulfilment’s paperless model, our imports of sustainable packaging which would otherwise have gone to EU landfill, and our ability to ship internationally have all been impacted as a direct result of government policy. We have seen 10 to 17 per cent increases in costs of raw materials, which must – unfortunately – be absorbed by us or passed on to clients. Ultimately, this is passed on to the consumer, meaning green choices become expensive choices.

Internally, we have also seen two-to-four weeks waiting times for “off the shelf” materials which previously would have been with us in two to four days.

We at Green Fulfilment reject the notion that this is necessary. We want green consumer choices to not only be easy, but preferable. We want to see Westminster and the new Scottish Government unite behind a progressive agenda to allow firms like ours make green choices easier for everyday consumers.

The absence of paperless border checks for goods shows that the UK Government has a lot of work to do to convince me – and my industry colleagues – that it takes the planet’s future as seriously as its own political goals.

Rukhsar Ahmed is a director at Green Fulfilment