Published 3 years ago.
About a 4 minute read.
Image: Roman Kraft/Unsplash
No matter the size of your company, there are certainly steps you could be taking to move closer to the elusive dream of net zero. In no way is the path to carbon neutrality easy, but bearing any costs and challenges now could secure the future success of your business.
Businesses of every size and sector have a part to play in the race to rein in
our global greenhouse gas emissions; in an effort to keep global temperatures from
rising more than 1.5°C in the next 10 years, per IPCC recommendations. But, while sustainability is a
focus for many already, the goal of complete carbon neutrality seems
unattainable for most small business owners.
With concerns surrounding its commercial feasibility overshadowing decisions,
I’ll explain how taking active steps towards becoming a carbon-neutral business
can help, rather than hinder, your operations.
The goal of a carbon-neutral business is to achieve a zero carbon footprint. In
order to do this, the business must put measures in place to reduce its harmful
greenhouse emissions to net
— balancing them out by investing in activities that create the equivalent
carbon savings elsewhere or using a mixture of both to get to net zero.
In an age when a lot of businesses are just about ‘doing their bit’ for the
environment and some are even greenwashing, taking your efforts to the next
level can set you apart from competitors — as consumers become increasingly
discerning with their choices, a business taking steps towards net zero now will
be well placed to attract customers in the years to come.
Truly sustainable businesses address the many interconnected social and environmental challenges that brands and their customers face — and strive for net-positive outcomes and impacts, in addition to growth. SB's latest guidebook can help your company navigate the path toward enhanced brand sustainability with key insights, actionable steps and a holistic framework that defines a roadmap for good growth.
Often, the costs at the start of the journey towards carbon-neutrality
initiatives are enough to put some businesses off. For example, green energy
tariffs are usually pricier than typical rates and large capital investments are
usually required for solar panels or a sustainable initiative to offset your
However, this is not to say that financial savings won’t be made in the long
run. For instance, despite the expense of solar panels, monthly energy bills are
reduced and any surplus energy produced can be sold back to suppliers, which
will generate additional income for a business.
Companies can also seek to save money when implementing changes. Using a
consultancy service such as Smarter Business to
compare energy suppliers or to identify opportunities to reduce waste and become
more efficient can also save a business thousands in bills. By seeking
professional help and advice, you can find out both the best ways to make your
business more sustainable.
So, with improved marketability and cost-saving opportunities, there is
potential for a business to become more profitable. This, along with clear
environmental benefits that go far beyond the business itself, is perhaps the
greatest incentive for companies to become carbon neutral.
Although simple steps such as introducing recycling bins and eliminating
single-use plastics are useful, carbon neutrality requires much larger and
strategic decisions from top-level management. Therefore, given the challenging
nature of the goal, embarking on a journey to net zero can seem daunting for
smaller businesses. However, there are many practical activities that any
business can use as a starting point.
Clean energy refers to energy supplied from a renewable source, which could
include solar or wind. A business has two options — either switch to a clean
energy supplier or to produce its own by having solar panels installed, for
Rather than supplying renewable energy, some contracts support sustainable
initiatives instead — such as the business purchasing the same amount of
renewable energy as it uses or investing in a solar or wind farm.
Reducing waste and becoming more efficient through small, strategic changes can
have a big impact on a business's carbon footprint.
For example, by introducing simple policies — such as turning lights off
overnight, switching to energy-efficient equipment and cleaning air filters —
you will not only save on energy bills; you can also reduce the amount of
emissions that need to be offset in order to achieve net zero, reducing the
investment you make in the process.
Despite the number of actions they take, some businesses will still have
unavoidable emissions. In these cases, offsetting them by investing in
initiatives aimed at reducing global carbon damage allows a business to still
achieve net zero.
Carbon offsetting is regulated by a number of standards, notably the Gold
Standard. Businesses can invest in impactful and
certified carbon-offsetting initiatives through a credible
— such as forest regeneration, safe water campaigns or clean cooking projects in
are then awarded carbon credits in return for their investment, which measures
their contribution to carbon offsetting.
This route to carbon neutrality often has a global impact, which is an
incredible achievement for any small business.
In no way is the path to carbon neutrality easy, but it is worth it — as bearing
any costs and challenges now could secure the future success of your business.
No matter the size of your company, there are certainly steps you could be
taking to move closer to the elusive dream of net zero.
Published May 25, 2020 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
Matthew is Director of Communications and Business Development at Smarter Business. He has experienced firsthand the disconnect between what businesses would like to achieve in terms of carbon efficiency and their current operations. He also recognises the opportunities available and would like more businesses to take advantage of them.