Depending on the nature and size of the business, the approach and timelines to becoming carbon neutral will be different. Here’s how companies can start the process of going carbon-neutral and protecting our future.
Measure! data is key to change
The most important step is to know where you stand today and how far you need to go in order to achieve carbon neutrality. Understanding different sources of carbon emission, both direct and indirect and reporting the progress on a regular basis will enable you to realize your goals much sooner than you may think. For companies that do not make physical products, it is rather simple as it accounts to mostly office space, electricity, travel and related activities. For companies that make physical products, their carbon emissions come from machines they run, materials they consume and many operations related activities.
Efficiencies can pay for themselves
Improvement in efficiencies can be one of the most powerful tools to reduce carbon footprint. This includes taking steps like moving from incandescent bulbs to LEDs, planning and managing better production schedule and shifts, moving your staff closer to your facility, redesigning your products and packages to use fewer resources, etc. There are examples of companies who have reduced as much as 40% carbon emissions as a result of simple, but effective efficiency improvement measures.
Find greener alternatives
Look for ways to have electricity, energy and transport that are based on renewable sources. If the facilities are under your direct control, installing solar panels is a good option and will pay off in short to medium term for itself. Also, look for materials, products and assets that you purchase for your direct and indirect consumption at the facilities to have better carbon footprint. Include procurement processes and methodologies that prioritize sourcing of products and materials that have lower carbon footprint and higher renewable content.
Adopt circular design principles
Using repurposed and renewable materials, avoiding waste and supporting regeneration of resources are key to circular design. Incorporate these into the products and services that you offer to your customers. As an example, moving away from disposable and single use packaging and products into a reusable, circular products and services will definitely result in better carbon footprint for your company and the community at large.
Embrace technology and new age shared services
Most of us love to travel for meeting and greeting people in person. While there is a social benefit of doing so, it comes at a huge environmental cost due to travel related carbon emissions. Virtual meetings, traveling in shared and public transport should be preferred over traveling alone where possible. Look for assets that can be shared, such as computer infrastructure, furniture and office space that further contributes to reducing carbon footprint. Use automation solutions for managing the energy consumption of your facilities and operations.
Going carbon-neutral can seem difficult to deal with, but you don’t have to do it all at once. By breaking down the actions into smaller, manageable tasks you can drive the change incrementally. Eliminating sources of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions at the corporate level is simply good business as it is the most important and right investment into our future.
(The writer is Founder & CEO, Mynusco)