There are many benefits to becoming a zero-carbon business, however, the steps to achieve this can be both complicated and expensive to the point where many businesses wouldn’t consider Net Zero a feasible objective. In this article, we will explore what ‘Net Zero’ is and its significance moving forward, how this can be achieved and why it is worth it.
Simply put, "net zero" is a phrase used to describe the balance of carbon emissions generated by a business, individual or organisation. The carbon dioxide emissions generated are balanced by incentives, programs and processes that remove an equal (or more) amount of carbon from the atmosphere. This is also commonly referred to as carbon neutral.
It's different from being a zero-carbon company - where the goal here is to be zero-carbon in the first place. This can be an extremely difficult proposition to achieve depending on the business.
Greenhouse gas emissions are one of the main causes of global warming, so governments around the world have introduced carbon emission reduction targets. Decarbonisation is a complex process, but the climate crisis must be addressed before it is too late. That's why emissions reduction targets are put in place to help reduce billions of tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year.
Companies looking to achieve zero carbon can look to organisations like SBTi with the Net-Zero standard that uses a science-based approach to setting net zero goals and delivering a roadmap on how this goal will be achieved, measured and achieved.
Aside from the obvious morality associated with protecting our planet as opposed to contributing to climate change, from a strictly business perspective there are long term benefits of being a carbon-neutral business. The trend of customers showing loyalty and often exclusivity to these businesses is on the rise; being viewed as an eco-friendly business will make a business’ product or service more enticing to a growing group of consumers while not being perceived as actively harmful to the environment will alienate them. Also, as pressure on governments globally increase to introduce stricter and more effective legislation to minimise business’ contribution to carbon levels; businesses that are most at fault will suffer the most when forced into extreme changes in production, while others who have adapted gradually over time won't face such problem
Sustainability also attracts investment, sustainability can be an important factor as one of the key metrics many investment firms use is what is known as the ESG score (a score assigned to a company based on how it manages a series of environment, social and governance performance indicators).
A business with the ambition of becoming carbon-free would need to eliminate all fossil fuel use from its business operations, more often than not this impossible and an unrealistic goal due to the need of energy and transport associated with their business activities. Many businesses, instead, are striving towards being ‘net-zero’, where the carbon they generate is offset to balance their individual carbon emission. Carbon offsetting is the process of compensating for the carbon dioxide emitted by a business’ actions by participating in schemes to reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that equate to how much was contributed originally. Examples of carbon offsetting include
When looking to achieve net-zero production, it is wise to address both carbon emission and offsetting; reducing fossil fuel usage will in turn reduce the cost and scale of the amount of carbon offsetting necessary to compensate. Performing an audit of energy consumption and where energy savings can be realised may raise questions such as heating or air-conditioning usage and whether this is being increased. Switching to an eco-energy supplier that uses renewable energy sources is another method businesses can use to help reduce their exposure to fossil fuels. Looking at the supply chain and reducing the exposure of products and supplies to fossil fuel-intensive processes is another way to reduce fossil fuel use. Also, consider materials that are recyclable and sustainable rather than single-use.
Look for suppliers who are also committed to net zero or sustainability. Again, supplier selection can have a spillover effect on your carbon-neutral performance. Choosing more sustainable suppliers is another way to reduce a company's exposure to fossil fuels.
Bell Packaging is proud to be a leader in the sustainable packaging industry, we are always looking for new ways to improve our carbon footprint. If you’re a business that is interested in decreasing its carbon footprint through its packaging then get in contact with Bell Packaging today.