Do you want to understand the carbon impact of your business?
We are seeing more and more businesses wanting to start the journey to become carbon neutral. They are not only concerned about climate change, but many are also realising they need to start future-proofing their business. They are seeing the many benefits of claiming carbon neutrality including attracting investors and discerning customers and even as an opportunity for growth.
But where to start………?
1. Calculate your carbon footprint
As a small to medium business, the best place to start is to determine the size of your carbon footprint.
Typically, calculating your footprint first involves deciding what emission releasing activities you should include. Usually, it’s all the activities over which your business has control.
For example, these could include:
- fuel used for your business’s vehicles or onsite generators; and
- electricity consumption.
Your business may also undertake activities it doesn’t control but that might cause significant emissions and in which your business may be able to exert some influence such as:
- waste sent to landfill; or
- how your staff commute to and from work and business travel.
Next you will need to collect 12 months of data for each of these activities. To convert the activity data into greenhouse gas emissions you use an emission factor. Factors and calculation can be found in the National Greenhouse Accounts (NGA) Factors or businesses can seek assistance from carbon neutral consulting services.
If you want to make statements about the size of your business’s footprint or claim carbon neutrality then it’s essential that the processes used to choose what activities are included and how data is collected along with any calculation methods are both accurate and transparent.
2. Reduce your emissions
The process of calculating your footprint will help your business identify which activities are contributing the most to your emissions. This can help you focus your efforts. Look for opportunities to reduce your emissions and create an emissions reduction plan. Make sure your emissions reduction plan is clear with measurable short, medium and long-term goals.
Opportunities typically include:
- being more efficient with your energy consumption;
- choosing more sustainable suppliers;
- purchasing more efficient equipment, fixtures or vehicles;
- purchasing or generating your own renewable energy onsite;
- reducing waste; and
- encouraging employees to commute more sustainably…… just to name a few!
Becoming carbon neutral can be a daunting task for small and medium businesses. However, choosing (and exceeding) smaller targets are worth considering. Depending on your business strategy you could consider goals such as reducing your emissions by 50% by 2025 or 2030, or set a date to aim for becoming certified carbon neutral.
3. Offset remaining emissions
Carbon offsets or carbon credits can be purchased to cancel out any carbon emissions your business cannot reduce.
There are a number of carbon offset providers however always check they are offering verified offsets to ensure a genuine emission reduction is occurring.
4. Claim Carbon Neutrality
Being certified as carbon neutral provides your supply chain with transparency that the claims you are making have been third party accredited and are not green wash. Certification through brands such as the Australian Government’s Climate Active Program, require third party verification that the certified company has met the standard.
The Climate Active Certification process will take you through the steps listed above. Then a third-party assessment is required to ensure the correct emission factors are being used and the process is being followed and a public disclosure statement provides public transparency of the process. Other recognised certification organisations include the Carbon Reduction Institute and the United Nations Climate Active Now.
Need some help?
We believe a vital part of the carbon neutral process is reducing your emissions so there are fewer emissions to offset and reduced offset costs. The Ecoefficiency Group has over 20 years of experience in helping businesses define their carbon footprint and developing emission reduction plans. TEG has worked with over 800 companies to help identify opportunities to reduce emissions. We have experience in every sector and size of business.
We can assist you whether you want to start by understanding your carbon footprint and know how best to reduce your emissions or if you seek certification. TEG are certified Climate Active consultants. We are happy to discuss your situation to help you make the right choice for your business. For advice on how your organisation can become carbon neutral, contact The Ecoefficiency Group – firstname.lastname@example.org.