Becoming net positive
In recent years, and particularly since COP26, many companies’ across the globe have committed to being carbon reduction by 2030; this includes big players such as Microsoft and IKEA. Companies and individuals are carbon neutral when the carbon emitted by their day-to-day operations are effectively cancelled out. However, to be carbon negative, they must remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they emit. This doesn’t mean that the company doesn’t emit any carbon emissions, it simply means that all the carbon emissions are being overcompensated for.
It can be baffling to start a carbon reduction strategy but something to proud of and, especially for your relationship with your customers. Here are some ideas:
Step 1: Measure your carbon footprint, particularly Scope 3
The first step is to understand how much carbon you emit and what your company’s carbon footprint is. eco-shaper takes both the company and its individuals through extensive but efficient questionnaires to accurately calculate the companies carbon footprint, including scope 3. Essentially, Scope 1 and 2 are those emissions that are owned or controlled by the company, whereas Scope 3 emissions are a consequence of the activities of the company but occur from sources not owned or controlled by it. For example, Scope 1 and 2 covers usage of fuel and energy and whereas Scope 3 covers suppliers of cloud servers. Incorporating Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions ensures companies understand their full value chain emissions and focus their efforts on the greatest reduction opportunities, specific to them. A lot of basic carbon calculators don’t cover Scope 3. However, it can be where the biggest emissions are coming from, and depending on what size business you are, it may be lawfully required for your company to measure it. In fact, more than 80% of most companies’ emissions stem from their up – and downstream value chain, and not their own production.
Step 2: Switch to renewable energy
This one may sound simple but can be quite tricky for businesses that require a lot of power. However, it’s estimated that renewables could power the world by 2050. Even if the switch isn’t entirely to renewables, by switching your main source, your company can drastically decrease its footprint. Renewables generate more energy than is used in their production and produce fewer emissions than other power sources over their lifetime. While all sources of electricity result in some GHG emissions over their lifetime, renewable energy sources have substantially fewer emissions than fossil fuel-fired power plants.
Step 3: Recycle and repurpose waste
More businesses are looking to transition to a circular economy, not only to minimise waste, but also to offer economic opportunity and stimulate innovation. In a circular economy, renewable, recycled, or highly recyclable inputs are used in production processes – enabling partial or total elimination of waste and pollution. Waste becomes an asset, not a liability that you pay to dispose of. Brewdog have made the transition to a circular economy for its craft beer. Think about how much waste a typical brewery makes, with all the grains and water involved in the manufacturing process. Brewdog have switched to a circular economy within their manufacturing function by developing an anaerobic digestion plant, along with a water treatment plant, an energy generation centre and a CO2 recovery plant. To elaborate, they can now turn wastewater into pure water with their anaerobic digester, and they also use the CO2 that’s produced during the fermentation process in beer making, to carbonate their beers.
Step 4: Carbon Capture
Carbon capture and storage is an effective way of reducing carbon emissions, which could be key to helping tackle global warming. It’s a three-step process to capture the carbon dioxide that’s produced, transport it and then store it underground. This goes beyond increasing efforts to reduce emissions and involves large technologies that work to remove carbon from the atmosphere. A more natural and small-scale version of carbon capture is tree planting, which if done in a managed way, can also be effective in carbon capture. There are many organizations that help by offering a service where companies can purchase carbon removal through investing in tree planting schemes. It is important to do your research to make sure that the company is legitimate and effective in reducing carbon emissions, and that the relationship works well for your business and its values.
Step 5: Empower others
The last step goes beyond reducing your own company emissions but also being the powerhouse that influences others to do so too. Once your company has gone through the above steps and built enough capacity of knowledge, it can then drive awareness through marketing, initiatives, workshops etc to help others get to the same level of sustainability.
eco-shaper has a realm of resources that teaches companies and individuals how to make positive sustainability choices, so that you and your companies individuals can continue to learn and grow. With more knowledge, comes more power, and more influence too. Following the “teach a man to fish” methodology, eco-shaper aims to help your company and others to accelerate the sustainability movement and move towards being net positive.
Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take
Paul Polman, Co-Founder and Chair – IMAGINE
At eco-shaper, we drive action on climate change and streamline carbon footprinting. For example, we can help calculate emissions across the entire ecosystem that companies work across and produce automated reporting based on outcomes. It’s like Xero, for sustainability. Contact us to be part of our research group on