Two things to look at right now to start your journey to carbon neutral
We all often hear a lot of different terms being used to describe organisations moving towards doing greener businesses. Terms such as net carbon zero, carbon neutral, carbon offsetting – as well as a lot of misinformation on what these terms all mean. It’s not easy to understand what your carbon goal could or should be or how to start your journey. We take a look at what some of these terms mean and how you can make immediate changes within your business to make a difference from Day 1.
What does carbon footprint mean?
This is the calculation of an individual’s, a company’s or even a country’s carbon dioxide emissions. This is essentially a meaningful way to understand your environmental impact. It’s your first step on your journey to finding out what your emissions are and then implementing a program of reduction. As we say, to measure is to know!
What is Net Carbon Zero?
Net Zero refers to the complete elimination of carbon production. In simple terms, it means that the processes and activities taking place in a business generates net-zero carbon emissions. Sometimes companies, even countries, will publish and commit to a date to achieve this. The UK, for example, has set a pledge to achieve net-zero by 2050. In fact it was set in law, with a milestone of a 78% reduction by 2035.
What is Carbon Neutral?
Where business activities do create carbon emissions, a carbon-neutral approach can be adopted. This is sometimes described as Offsetting. So a company would measure it’s carbon footprint and use this calculation to remove the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere.
What is Climate Positive?
While carbon zero is an incredible goal to achieve, many seek to do more. Climate Positive, or sometimes referred to as Carbon Negative, is the focus on the removal of more carbon than is being produced. So this goes beyond Offsetting.
The 2 areas where can you start to make a difference today
If you’re a retailer there are 2 things that you can have an influence on right away – your packaging and how you use transport.
How the right packaging can help get you to carbon neutral
Packaging has become a big issue and sometimes a concern for consumers. Large eCommerce companies are often ‘called out’ by consumers who receive their online orders in wasteful packaging. Using your packaging efficiently not only cuts costs on the boxes themselves but if you’re posting your items – you’ll be charged more for those oversize boxes! And that’s not even thinking about damage to your brand reputation if something like this (below) happens. You will be seen as wasteful, not caring about your environmental impact and likely end up a ‘star’ on YouTube and social media for all the wrong reasons! You can see the full story about this unfortunate Amazon delivery and packaging fail here.
But getting good with packaging choice is much more than just cardboard box size – do you know its provenance? By that we mean:
Do you know where it was manufactured?
How many miles has it travelled to get to your facility?
Does it have FSC accreditations?
What percentage of recycled content does it have?
Can it be recycled by your customer?
Having a better understanding of these criteria and challenging those weaker areas will all contribute to a better carbon footprint. An FSC accreditation, for example, is really something to shout about and something more consumers are looking out for. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 67% of those asked recognised the FSC logo and 75% stated that it was important for the packaging of the products they buy to be responsibly sourced.
We’re proud that our eco-friendly e-commerce packaging range NEST is all responsibly sourced – all from the UK or Europe, many with FSC accreditations. You can find out more about the importance of FSC here. Every single product in the NEST range is 100% recyclable and many are manufactured with 100% recycled materials. We know the importance that customers place on recyclable packaging with over 88% of UK shoppers demanding on-pack information that highlights how environmentally friendly it is – or isn’t!
All this was factored into our thinking when launching a dedicated eCommerce packaging range and you can find out more about NEST here.
How clever use of transport can help get you to carbon neutral
Eliminating or reducing wasted miles has a hugely beneficial impact on your carbon footprint and getting smarter with how your operation or network uses transport is a very quick way to going greener faster. Think about the journeys your products take from sourcing to final delivery, the double handling they may go through and the travel infrastructure needed behind these processes.
Today, we see a definite trend in the move away from suppliers from the Far East and Asia. Companies who found prices attractive and could wait a reasonably long time for transport were forced to re-look at their supply chains once Covid started. Left high and dry and with escalating prices on top of that, this no longer became a reliable service for many. Throw in the environmental impact of products travelling thousands of mile makes sourcing closer to home now seems much more attractive.
If your business is a multi-branch operation, how can you optimise the process of sending your everyday consumables to your entire network? There is huge scope for getting smart with this area of your operation. Working with a single-source supplier is a really clever way to reduce your transport burden. This approach can also alleviate storage challenges you may have on-site, leaving more room in your warehouse for your profitable products. A single-source supplier can coordinate all your store deliveries effectively and efficiently – have it when you need it and in as few deliveries as possible.
The first steps
Without a doubt, packaging and transport changes will deliver quick green wins. To be able to demonstrate how your business is actively working to reduce its impact is something that is no longer nice to have. Having a Corporate Social Responsibility policy in place is something all end-user of your products will look for and your partners and staff will expect. There has never been a better time to start this process, document and showcase your carbon savings and take your first step to reduce your carbon footprint.
Need help getting started with this? Why not get in touch for free help and advice, drop us a message below.