Businesses today are highly conscious of their carbon emissions and are looking for ways to reduce them. Since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement stipulated all countries in the world to commit to a specified emission reduction target, the private sector has been under pressure from consumers, investors and other stakeholders to play its part. As a result, many companies are pursuing strategies to become a carbon-neutral company and be recognized as a leader in sustainable business.
Carbon neutrality is the defining term for business enterprises seeking to offset the carbon dioxide their operations are emitting into the atmosphere. It doesn’t mean a company is emitting no carbon emissions from its business process; rather it means that a business entity is emitting net-zero emissions by removing as much CO2 from the atmosphere as it is producing.
A carbon-negative company removes more carbon emissions than it produces from its business process. Such a company can sell its carbon credits in an open carbon trading market.
1. Measure and mitigate your carbon emissions
The first step for any company to become carbon neutral is to measure how much carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions are emitted in its processes. You need to measure the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions your company produces and break it down into each department such as transport, production, and energy usage. After the total amount of carbon emissions is quantified, the next step is to create a strategy on how to reduce CO2 emissions. Certain emissions can be reduced, while other emissions cannot be reduced at all.
A typical example is when an energy company such as an oil & gas producer works toward energy-efficient production so that fewer emissions occur during the production and transportation of oil & gas. When it is unable to reduce anymore, it can purchase carbon credit from other companies that are carbon negative. Such companies can resort to carbon offsetting, which is a mechanism where buyers can claim a measurable, verified quantity of emission reductions.
2. Shift to green manufacturing
Core manufacturing industries account for 31% of the global carbon emissions, while power generation accounts for 27%. So there is a drastic need to move to green production, which is popularly referred to as ‘green manufacturing’. This is an approach taken by a company to upgrade its outdated and energy inefficient production ways and choose environment-friendly and modern manufacturing solutions instead. Companies around the world are becoming conscious of their choices and so are encouraged to embrace green production as their functional approach.
For instance, a company owning outdated machinery tends to consume more electric power due to machine wear & tear. If old machines are replaced with more energy efficient ones, then power consumption can be drastically reduced. Carbon offsetting programs can improve overall energy efficiency, which implies that the production process will be streamlined to eliminate avoidable amounts of greenhouse gases.
3. Optimize resources and reduce waste
Typically, manufacturing companies utilize a lot of raw materials in their production process, resulting in a lot of wastage. There is a need for streamlined production to eliminate waste of raw materials and optimal utilization. Efforts must be made to properly utilize water and energy resources.
For example, by recycling water, companies can limit wastage and adopt an efficient production process. This process of water reclamation involves the use of non-potable wastewater instead of using new water supplies. Waste water is collected and treated for reusing it for different manufacturing operations. Water recycling plays a big role in green production as it not only retains wastewater for the purpose of reuse, but also saves energy that would have been required for the extraction and transportation of fresh water.
4. Ensure energy efficiency everywhere
Services companies tend to consume a lot of resources since they are unable to measure and realize the amount of resources wasted in their office. Lighting, water, paper, plastic material are all wasted without any concern about the environment or economics. If companies look at saving resources, they will not only save the environment, but also conserve their business bottomline. Here are a few steps to take for establishing an energy efficient way of work:
- Eliminate the need for physical documentation and go paperless
- Install LED bulbs and motion sensor light fixtures to reduce power consumption
- Maximize the use of natural light for the well being of your workers
- Ensure automatic power off for computers and other high-power-consuming appliances
- Replace single-use plastic items with sustainable alternatives
- Encourage workers to car pool or use public transport for office commuting
- Upgrade to energy-efficient office equipment
5. Digitize your supply chain management
Companies need to deal with transport logistics of either goods or people in their business processes. Customer expectations are rising at the same time because of the trend of shopping online, which has increased demand for services and sharpened order granularity. However, this increased transport consumes enormous amounts of fossil fuels, leading to excess carbon emissions.
This is particularly crucial for FMCG companies since they deal with a lot of perishable commodities such as food and beverages. So setting up a traceable cold chain with cold storages at the farmgate will surely help reduce food wastage and increase supply chain efficiency. RFID tags placed on containers can help track the shipments are various stages and locations.
6. Utilize renewable energy
Industries require enormous amounts of power for their manufacturing and production processes. If this power comes from fossil fuels, it will lead to massive rise in carbon emissions and air pollution. Rather companies need to choose a renewable energy source to carry out the manufacturing operations since clean energy produced from natural resources such as sunlight or wind produces no harmful emissions.
Today, solar power has become so cheap that every household has installed solar panels on their rooftops. Companies can not only install solar power for their own consumption, but also sell their excess to the main power grid and earn credits. Similarly setting up a wind mill can help companies that are suitably located. The excess power generated by wind mills can be connected to the grid and sold to the power utility.