Becoming a carbon neutral business often sits at the top of the sustainability wish-list. Cutting the overall carbon footprint and achieving carbon neutrality is exemplary within any sector and illustrates an organisation that is actively working towards tackling climate change.
The trend towards becoming a carbon neutral business highlights the importance of sustainability within business at present, and the desire for organisations to be responsible, accountable and transparent in how they operate. Consumers simply won’t accept outdated processes that create negative implications for people or our planet. Similarly, it can be hard to attract or retain top talent when your organisation fails to support people or planet.
As a concept, offsetting carbon emissions and becoming carbon neutral is undoubtedly here to stay. Organisations can adapt fast and align themselves with such themes or soon discover that they are on the verge of becoming extinct.
In this article, we provide an overview of carbon neutrality and how businesses can get started. If you’d like help creating sustainability strategies and collecting data, simply get in touch with the team here at Sustainit.
What is carbon neutrality?
“Carbon neutrality” is about offsetting an organisation’s carbon footprint to zero. In essence, this means it contributes no additional carbon to the environment; a leading factor in climate change.
There are many ways an organisation can offset their emissions. Funding renewable energy projects, planting trees, or even adapting supply chains to reduce emissions, organisations have a multitude of avenues to help them achieve the accolade of being net zero carbon.
The PAS 2060 is an internationally recognised certificate that sets out requirements and quantifiable benchmarks for organisations to follow.
Steps to becoming a carbon neutral business
Calculate current emissions
The first step to becoming carbon neutral is to calculate your current emissions. This will consequently provide you with a carbon footprint that needs offsetting.
Although this may sound like mission-impossible, there is specialist software to help you track and manage sustainability within your organisation, making tasks like calculating current emissions much easier.
Extracting accurate and reliable data is vital for the whole process to be worthwhile. Here at Sustainit, not only do our tried and tested systems help you get the data input right first time, but they make sure the results are always meaningful.
This initial process is also extremely useful to evaluate the financial implications of different areas of the business. You may discover that based on your energy consumption, installing renewable solar panels is not only beneficial for your carbon footprint, but actually saves you significant money in the long run too.
Once you’ve collected and analysed data on current emissions, you are able to set carbon targets to strive towards. Depending on the sector and size of an organisation, these targets can vary quite considerably.
On average, the supply chain accounts for around 75% of an organisation’s emissions. Our team are well-versed in the complexities of supply chain management data, not only in collecting vast data sets, but also setting out a clear path for managing these emissions. Whether it is looking at circular economy, product lifecycle or Tier 3 suppliers, we can help you manage every aspect to reduce your carbon footprint.
By outlining the aspects of your organisation and identifying how carbon emissions can be reduced, you can create a clear list of targets and a definitive roadmap to follow.
During this stage, it is also useful to research external projects, such as tree planting, that can help offset carbon too. These projects involve donating to external projects designed to help tackle climate change.
Once you have clear targets set out, it’s time to implement these changes within your organisation.
Reduce carbon emissions
With a clear understanding of your emissions and how you can become carbon neutral, it’s time to action these visions.
Some areas of your business may be easier to change than others. Internal operations or policies could be changed quickly to see immediate changes. External factors, such as finding greener suppliers, could take longer to implement but have significant impacts on the overall success of carbon neutrality. Certain suppliers are taking extra steps to enhance their green credentials, such as electric vans and bikes for delivery. Similarly, simply choosing local suppliers could also help save on emissions too. On a large scale, sometimes the smallest of changes can lead to big impacts on carbon emissions, which is why every little helps.
Becoming carbon neutral doesn’t happen overnight, but with a clear understanding of what needs to be done, organisations can strive towards clear objectives and targets each month.
Once initiatives are set up and in full flow, analysing and managing the data becomes a vital component to its success.
Specialist sustainability software helps to make the process of tracking and reviewing carbon emissions much easier. This can help create digestible reports and highlight areas that are lagging behind targets.
For larger organisations, including reports on carbon neutrality in monthly meetings and agendas will help engrain the importance of these measures into the everyday fabric of the organisation.
Data visualisation can also help bring this data to life and clearly illustrate the success of current targets. For example, using infographics that make the data memorable and easy to understand will help engage those who read it. Getting creative with the data can also really help it drive the point home. You may also want to consider translating the data into meaningful insights and use real-world context. For instance, instead of just writing down how much fuel you saved, showing that this translates as enough fuel to drive to the North Pole and back, creates a striking image for stakeholders and consumers. Using these sorts of comparisons can go a long way in increasing engagement in reports.
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