Let’s face it, despite all of the efforts and well-meaning words used by politicians, businesses and individuals, the climate crisis that we all face isn’t getting any better; with a large proportion of businesses and organisations still not doing what is necessary to improve the landscape.
The time of CEO’s and directors asking, ‘what can be done?’ is surely over, with most knowing exactly what needs to be done to help matters. Ultimately, what needs to be achieved is an overall reduction in CO2e emissions in the atmosphere. The planet needs to be become carbon neutral.
Carbon offsetting is now a widely used term, and it allows businesses to have genuine involvement in helping the situation. As it sounds, carbon offsetting is the action of compensating for CO2e emissions by participating in schemes designed to make equivalent reductions of CO2e in the atmosphere.
But there is a difference between a company becoming carbon neutral via carbon offsetting, and simply ‘greenwashing’ for marketing purposes. For carbon offsetting to be effective, and not considered ‘greenwashing’, businesses must also address in-house emissions; whilst ensuring they are taking part in verified offsetting schemes. Likewise, double counting (when two parties claim the same carbon removal or emissions reduction) needs to be avoided.
Calculate and Reduce Your Emissions
First and foremost, before any offsetting can take place, a business needs to know the level of emissions it is releasing. Once an accurate figure is generated, the business will know the level of emissions that it needs to offset.
There are hundreds of sites online offering emissions and carbon footprint calculators, the key is to choose one that is trustworthy and developed by a responsible source. For example, The Carbon Trust has a SME (small and medium sized enterprise) carbon footprint calculator which is a good option from a reliable source.
Regardless of the calculator your business decides to use, there is certain information that is necessary to calculate carbon emissions levels:
Fuel Consumption – Any fuel consumed by the organisation or business, both on site and in its vehicles, needs to be recorded. This can be petrol, diesel or natural gas. This information is normally found in bills, fuel cards or meter readings.
Energy Consumption – All electricity that is used across sites or has used across sites. This information can be found through meter readings and utility bills.
Topping Up AC and Refrigeration Units – Most refrigeration, fire protection and AC units contain fluorinated green gas (F gas), which possesses a particularly high carbon footprint. Provide the type of top up and quantity, which should be available from your AC contractor.
Its essential that the data reported covers the chosen 12-month period for an accurate reading. If 12 months of readings and figures are not available, you should estimate consumption based on average energy or fuel consumption – keeping in mind seasonal changes to demand.
Another thing to remember is that offsetting isn’t the only option. Once you have your calculation and can see where you are using higher levels of energy and fuel, your organisation can then look to reduce this number at source – without relying solely on offsetting.
Once you have looked at reducing your company’s emissions, you can look at choosing a verified offsetting option.
The key aim of offsetting your organisations carbon emissions is to become carbon neutral. Not only does this show a level of corporate responsibility and consideration from your company, it will help fund projects across the world that will help reduce emissions levels both now and in the future.
As ever, it is important to do your due diligence that the offsetting partner you choose is verified, honest and trustworthy. Once you have completed this, there are two main options available.
Monthly subscription – Some carbon offsetting partners will offer a monthly subscription, and with the finance generated will then carry our projects such as tree planting, investing in renewable energy across the globe or zero waste plants.
Direct Investment – Other offsetting partners offer a direct investment in a specific project. Again, tree planting is a huge part of offsetting, as it sequesters carbon emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and wood. Trees, grass and wildflower meadows are all capable of storing carbon from the atmosphere.
Once an organisation has signed up and began undertaking carbon offsetting work, they can apply for a PAS 2060 accreditation certificate – which is the only internationally recognised standard for carbon neutrality.
Carbon Neutral Supply Chain
A final way to help improve your organisation’s environmental standing, and continue in the fight against climate change, is to analyse the other businesses that you work with.
Are your partners making efforts to reduce their own emissions? Are they vocal in what can be done to help transform industries into something better? By choosing to work with companies that go the extra mile, not only are we helping them grow, we are also making businesses who don’t hold these values realise that they need to change to keep up with their competitors.
At BioHygiene, from our manufacturing process, right through to deliveries and installs, we make every effort to keep our CO2e emissions low, whilst constantly looking for other options on how we can improve. We are also certified as a carbon neutral business by The Carbon Trust.