April 16, 2020
With global warming rapidly impacting our environment, sustainability has become a priority. In fact, 81% of people say companies should make an effort to help the environment, according to Nielsen research. Shoppers want to support and buy products from companies that are tracking their carbon footprint and are environmentally friendly.
A crucial part of building a more sustainable business is tracking your company’s carbon footprint. This is the amount of GHG (greenhouse gases), most commonly carbon dioxide, that your company emits. Your carbon footprint includes not only the GHGs your company produces itself, but also the emissions from any part of your supply chain.
Several different factors can contribute to your company’s carbon footprint:
All factors can be reduced or improved to lower your company’s carbon footprint. UL’s expertise can help you identify opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle for a more sustainable business.
Electricity is a necessity for all businesses, whether it’s to power a packaging facility or simply to be able to use a computer. According to the EPA, 28% of all GHGs in the U.S. are due to electricity consumption. This is because nearly 63% of electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, which go directly into your environment.
But there are greener ways to power your business. One clean energy option is to install solar panels. If solar panels aren’t practical for your location, building or business, there are other ways to use clean energy. For example, there are environmentally friendly web hosts that power their data centers with renewable energy. Using a green web host for your business is one small way you can reduce your company’s carbon footprint.
Another way to reduce carbon emissions is to use less energy. Turn off all electronics when they aren’t being used. Most people turn off the light when they leave a room, but a lot of the time computers are left on even if they’re in sleep mode. This is still consuming electricity. Investing in more efficient LED light bulbs or motion-activated lighting can reduce your energy use even more.
Transportation accounts for 29% of all GHGs in the U.S. This includes cars, trucks, planes, trains and boats. As transportation vehicles run on gasoline or diesel, they produce a significant amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Calculating the GHG emissions of your company’s transportation vehicles will greatly help your company reduce and improve its carbon footprint. To do this, you need the vehicle’s carbon dioxide emissions rate, the vehicle runtime, and fuel type.
One way to reduce the GHGs from transportation is to have your employees work from home. Their daily commute contributes to your company’s carbon footprint. In some areas, subsidizing employees’ use of public transportation can reduce the number of cars commuting to work. If this isn’t a possibility for your company, you can encourage your employees to carpool or even offer shuttle services.
Another way to reduce GHGs for your company is to have video calls instead of business trips. One flight can produce as many GHGs as the average person does in a year. Modern technology means you don’t have to be in the same physical location to talk face-to-face. The use of video conferencing can greatly reduce your company’s carbon footprint and your travel spending.
Even if your business isn’t in the food industry, the food served to employees can impact your carbon footprint. For example, the process of making beef produces a significant amount of GHGs into the atmosphere because so much is grown in order to feed the cows. This process produces GHGs in itself.
Most importantly, cows produce a significant amount of methane into our atmosphere. Methane warms the earth at four times the rate carbon dioxide does. According to CBS, if a group of four people cut the amount of beef they eat in half, it would reduce the same amount of GHGs emitted into the atmosphere as if they were to not drive for six months.
The consumption of food also produces a variety of waste. The first step toward reducing food-related waste is implementing and enforcing a recycling and composting program for your business. This means less of your waste product will end up in a landfill. Then, look at ways to create less waste in the first place. For example, use reusable dishes in your break room instead of paper plates and utensils. Where single-use products can’t be avoided, buy supplies made of recycled materials.
Overall, there are many ways to reduce and improve your company’s carbon footprint, and tracking your carbon footprint is an important part of that. Doing so will help benefit the environment and your business, as you may attract more buyers due to the higher demand for sustainable companies.