It’s now an unquestionable fact of life that we are increasingly under pressure to resolve our planet’s ongoing environmental crisis. There are now many strong directives relating to making genuine changes for the good of the planet, one of which is for companies to become carbon neutral. What does this mean, who’s already doing it and how can your company achieve this?
What does carbon neutral mean?
An organisation’s carbon footprint is defined as the total amount of energy consumed by a company and the associated emissions created by these generation activities.
The emissions are judged by the global warming potential of each type of activity, which is then converted into a carbon dioxide equivalent. The first stage in reducing the amount of carbon created by a company is understanding the amount produced across all its activities.
Many companies find it difficult, if not impossible, to completely remove carbon generating processes from their business. In these cases the organisation is allowed to offset its carbon use by supporting and using green technologies wherever possible to counterbalance carbon generation and remain neutral.
Why is it important to be carbon neutral
Carbon neutrality is one of the key metrics that has been established as a global response to climate change. With carbon being one of the major culprits contributing to greenhouse gases and climate change, a reduction is most definitely preferable, but even more drastic action is required to make a truly significant impact on this problem.
By going carbon neutral, your company would be changing the world for the better and would be rewarded in the following ways:
- Helping improve the health of the planet.
- You will save on energy bills by using more eco-friendly, energy saving methods. Examples include self-generation of sustainable energy, better insulation or driving more economically.
- A sustainable business is something to celebrate and makes a great story to tell your customers.
- A story that could generate more custom as it resonates with your customer base.
- Fossil fuels will eventually run out, it’s better to be ahead of the curve and in a solid business position.
What companies have become carbon neutral?
Each year, more businesses are taking carbon neutrality seriously, adapting the ways they work, company policies and incorporating sustainable energy sources. Below are just a handful of companies who have already taken these steps.
- Neal’s Yard – with company values that espouse the virtues of organic products and a holistic view to a business’s impact on the global stage, it is no surprise that Neal’s Yard is now carbon neutral. Through purchasing wind-power projects in the Far East they now have a carbon reduction plan to cut their footprint even further.
- Avis – this car hire company were the first in its sector to launch a corporate social responsibility program and has been working hard at carbon neutrality since 2000, offsetting over 150K tonnes of CO2 over the last 2 decades. In line with this policy the company also invests heavily in recycling and energy saving technology for its units.
- Marks & Spencer – the first major retailer to become carbon neutral in 2012, the business has its own Plan:180 – a charter to reach the company’s sustainability goals. This policy includes fishing in sustainable waters, energy saving and waste management. By 2013 the company had reduced energy spend by over a quarter in the first year of this drive and is currently looking at stepping up their use of organic and fairtrade sourced goods.
- Google – without question one of the world’s success stories of the internet revolution, believe it or not Google has been carbon neutral since way back in 2007, announcing this to the world in 2011. Considering the company has a massive energy demand to simply run their search function they have done well to source their power requirements from sustainable and renewable sources.
Siemens – The big players too
It now seems that some of the global leading manufacturers are also making a strong commitment to carbon neutral strategies and practices.
In 2015 Siemens made a statement that they would reduce carbon volumes from their processes by 50% with plans to become completely carbon neutral by 2030. This includes heavy investment from the business in excess of £100m to reduce the carbon consumption of office and industrial units.
Siemens were certainly quick to move this plan along, reducing their carbon footprint by 33% in 2016.
ISO 14001 – A step in the right direction
One strategy that can help nearly all businesses start to reduce their carbon footprint is the internationally recognised ISO 14001 certification which allows a company to implement their own environmental management system or EMS.
Set up your own process of continual improvement and work towards your own environmentally important targets over time. The best aspect of this certification is that it has a built in system of re-assessment allowing you to identify and reassess new areas for growth.
Whilst the biggest polluters remain businesses and industries, it seems that many of the world’s residents have pulled together and started to make more of a difference to our planet.
There will always be the argument that one unit making change on its own will be somewhat anonymous, but if many organisations decide to implement policies at the same time and make good on their promises, we could be looking at an entirely different attitude towards carbon in the next decade or so.
Learn more about how to increase your green credentials with ISO 14001 by calling our award-winning ISO experts on 0800 404 7007.
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