With increasing scrutiny on corporate responsibility and growing concern over the climate crisis, the need to shift towards a greener operational model is more apparent than ever. With companies big and small working harder than ever to address sustainability and keep customers on their side, the question is not if businesses should decarbonise but how to. Note that 90% of companies say they think sustainability is important, but according to recent data, only 60% of them have a sustainability strategy.
The process of decarbonising your business may initially seem daunting. However, like any complex project, breaking it down into manageable steps can simplify the task. To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together some crucial steps that any business can take to initiate or advance its decarbonisation journey and help you to a cleaner, greener brand.
Start with a carbon audit
The first port of call in your decarbonisation journey should be a comprehensive carbon audit. Carbon Trust has put together a comprehensive guide on its website. An audit entails a detailed examination of your company’s carbon footprint, from energy consumption to waste production and not only serves to quantify emissions but also highlights areas where improvements can be most impactful.
Several software solutions and consultancies can assist with this, including the team at Zudu. The more robust and detailed the audit, the better. An accurate baseline provides invaluable insights into where emissions are most prolific, offering a prioritised road map for intervention. It’s better to know where your business stands now and make slow, steady changes than wait until such audits are legislated and require more expensive changes.
Set realistic targets
Once you’ve established your carbon footprint, the next step is to set realistic but ambitious goals. Multiple frameworks exist to consider, such as Science Based Targets or the 1.5°C commitment to align your business goals with the Paris Agreement. Review your options and decide which would be most appropriate for your organisation and your customer base.
Effective targets should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Make sure actionable plans back your business goals. This could involve reducing energy consumption by a specific percentage by a particular date or committing to zero waste within five years. Don’t be too ambitious, as it could limit your potential impact.
Switch to renewable energy
A “quick win” for sustainability is to switch to a company offering renewable energy – it’s an instant way to reduce your emissions and show your customers that you’re serious about the environment. Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, or hydro offer a sustainable and often cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels. What’s more, with advances in battery technology and energy management systems, the barriers to adoption are decreasing.
If you operate in an industry that cannot rely on renewable energy, consider offsetting.
Operate more sustainably
Decarbonising is not just about energy consumption; it encompasses a shift in operational practices. This includes adopting circular economy principles such as reusing, recycling, and reducing waste and ensuring your entire team is on the same page. Whether you operate out of a warehouse, a retail store or a remote office, there are lots of changes you can make.
Examine your supply chain critically. Engage with suppliers to discuss their carbon footprint and sustainability initiatives. Many businesses need to pay more attention to the carbon footprint embedded in their supply chain. According to McKinsey, only 25% of companies engage their suppliers to address emissions. By collaborating with suppliers on sustainability goals, a business can significantly amplify its impact with minimal cost implications.
Report and adopt
Finally, it’s crucial to have systems in place for ongoing monitoring and reporting of your carbon footprint. Transparency is critical: companies that openly share their sustainability progress are likelier to build trust among consumers and stakeholders. It’s interesting to note that 33% of retail and consumer brands say their company’s actions rarely align with the sustainability ambitions they communicate to their stakeholders – more work is needed!
Regularly review your objectives and assess the impact of the measures you’ve taken. This will involve another carbon audit to gauge your progress. The insights gained will not only indicate where you’ve succeeded but will also spotlight areas requiring further action.
Decarbonising your business is a long-term commitment. However, if you have a structured approach and a team dedicated to change, you can make significant strides toward not only reducing their carbon footprint but also contributing to global sustainability efforts.
Whether you’re a startup or an established multinational, decarbonising your business is an essential endeavour that yields environmental and economic dividends. Keep us up to speed with your journey on X using @ZuduDigital.