We might have a reputation as penny-pinching and lacking in personality but in actuality, accountants can change the world. Now how many professions can claim that? Everyone is acutely aware of the threat posed to the planet by single use plastics. More than 78m tonnes of plastic packaging is produced each year and, across Europe, 30kg of plastic packaging waste is discarded anually. From the poisonous gasses they produce, to the decimation they can cause on wildlife the globe over, there’s no doubt humanity needs to change it’s approach. So, how does all this square with accountancy? Well, whilst there are individuals that have taken it upon themselves to change their ways and the movement is gathering pace, the real change will come from business. And change from government: in the 2018 Budget, it was announced that a new tax would be levied on the production and import of plastics that don’t contain 30% or more recycled material. This is a step in the right direction but can hardly be considered as leading the fight against plastics. To put it in some context, the EU will ban all single use plastics by 2021 and in an even more extreme measure, Kenya has brought in fines of up to £40,000 or four years in prison for those holding, selling or using single use plastic bags. The UK aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 but experts have suggested this should be as soon as 2030. So what if business stepped up to the plate and made significant strides to meet targets well ahead of deadlines? Some businesses have already made concessions; Zara will make all their clothes from recyclable fabrics by 2025, Adidas are making shoes from plastic recovered from the sea and Victor, the jet charter company, will offset the carbon dioxide produced from each flight by 200%. How Can We Help? Accountants have a unique view in to your business and can identify areas where smarter business, as well as sustainability, decisions could be made. Electric cars are one area that could bring big gains for companies. They may cost more upfront but over time they are more economical than their fossil fuelled counterparts. As of April 2020, there won’t be any benefit in kind charges too. A company that is looking to change the way it runs its office by introducing new technologies and methods can also harness R&D tax credits. Carbon accounting also measures the environmental performance of a business and has numerous financial benefits. Additionally, there are lots of shorter-term perks such as reducing waste, cutting utility bills and strengthening brand identity. So, whilst environmental change to business will be imposed eventually, companies should not be resistant to these changes. In fact, there are myriad of benefits to be had and by becoming an early adopter and phasing in the change, businesses can reap the rewards early and without having to undergo mass change when these proposals become law. Ultimately, the planet benefits and we can all draw down our individual rewards too.