As the leaves start to change colours and the air becomes crisper, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the latest sustainability trends that are shaping the autumn of 2023 in the United Kingdom.
The pursuit of a greener, more sustainable future continues to gain momentum, and these trends underscore the country’s commitment to environmental stewardship and responsible living.
The UK’s ambition to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (Scotland 2045) remains a focal point of sustainability efforts, regardless of Rishi Sunak’s recent moves. The autumn of 2023 sees increased urgency and innovation in this pursuit. Businesses and government agencies are setting concrete plans to reduce emissions, with an increasing focus on scope 3 (indirect emissions outside the direct control of an organisation such as those from customers and suppliers).
Circular Economy Practice Trends
The circular economy is gaining ground as an alternative to the traditional linear “take-make-dispose” model. Companies are rethinking their product lifecycles, aiming to reduce waste and prolong product usability. Initiatives like product maintenance and refurbishment, reuse and recycling and “zero-waste” packaging are becoming more prevalent. The Scottish Government introduced the Circular Economy Bill to Parliament earlier this year.
Preserving biodiversity is another critical trend. Autumn 2023 sees increased efforts to protect and restore natural ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, and urban green spaces. Urban planning incorporates more green infrastructure, such as living walls and green roofs, to enhance biodiversity in cities. Company directors must pay close attention to the identification, mitigating and management of commercial risks arising from nature-related impacts. A good place to start is the Natural Capital Protocol primer for business.
Sustainable Transportation Trends
The autumn of 2023 sees continued growth in sustainable transportation options. Electric vehicles (EVs) are increasingly popular, with the Scottish Government providing incentives for EV adoption. Public transport networks are expanding, and cycling infrastructure is improving, encouraging greener commuting alternatives. Read about our sustainability transport diary.
Plastic Reduction Trends
A subset of the circular economy trend, efforts to reduce single-use plastics remain a top priority. Businesses are introducing innovative packaging solutions, and consumers are becoming more conscious of their plastic consumption. The single use plastics ban, introduced to Scotland in 20222, is motivating companies to explore eco-friendly packaging and no-packaging alternatives.
Food Sustainability Trends
The sustainability of the food industry is gaining attention. Autumn 2023 sees a rise in plant-based diets and locally sourced foods. Sustainable agriculture practices, such as regenerative farming, are being embraced for their carbon storage potential and abililty to reduce the environmental footprint of food production. Check out some great vegan recipes.
Green Finance Trends
Following COP 26 the financial sector is increasingly getting serious about sustainable investments and incorporating nature and biodiversity in their investment policies. More financial institutions are incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria into their investment strategies driven by a mix of risk mitigation, regulation and opportunity . Green bonds and sustainable investing options are becoming more accessible to the public.
Sustainable Fashion Trends
Sustainable fashion is a growing trend in the UK. Consumers are shifting towards ethical and eco-friendly clothing choices. Brands are adopting circular design principles, using next generation more sustainable materials, and promoting recycling and renting of clothing – younger generations favouring apps such as Vinted or sites such as B Corp Thrift plus.
Conscious Consumerism trends
Perhaps one of the most significant trends is the rise of conscious consumerism. Shoppers are making more deliberate choices, favouring sustainable and ethical products. Brands that align with environmental and social values are gaining popularity though these choices continue to attract a price premium.
The autumn of 2023 in the UK is marked by a commitment to sustainability that reaches across industries and communities. These trends represent a collective effort to address climate change, conserve biodiversity, and transition to a greener, fairer, more resilient future. As the leaves fall and the seasons change, the pursuit of sustainability remains evergreen in the United Kingdom.
For more information please contact Jayne Saywell, one of our Business Advisors. Her knowledge, experience and ideas can help your company thrive in a wellbeing economy, and find joy in a sustainable future.