Three steps to offsetting your company’s carbon footprint 

Jessica Pierce, Content Producer, and Researcher

Carbon offsetting refers to the process of mitigating the effects of your carbon footprint on the environment. This is achieved by either removing the equivalent amount of carbon you emit into the atmosphere, or reducing your emissions in the first place. Everyone is responsible for fixing the climate crisis, but businesses in particular, whether large or small, will play a key role in the current and future protection of our environment. 

Whilst offsetting does come at a financial cost, the benefits of this expenditure are bifold. Not only will you be helping to reduce your carbon footprint, thus making your business more sustainable, but you’ll also be helping to fund environmental projects around the world. 

If you’re looking to offset your company’s carbon footprint, there are three key steps you’ll need to take. Here, we outline the process of carbon offsetting, and provide more information about whether or not it’s feasible for your business. 

Calculating 

The very first step to offsetting your carbon footprint is to measure the emissions that your company is currently producing. There are three scopes into which carbon emissions are categorised. Scope 1 refers to direct emissions, which incorporates any greenhouse gases that are emitted as a direct result of your business activity. This includes things such as petrol used in company cars, or fossil fuels burned on your site. 

Scope 2 is the indirect energy emissions, over which you don’t always have control. It most commonly refers to the energy supplied to keep your business running, used for lighting, heating and any other bills. Scope 3 is the most difficult category to measure, since it incorporates all other indirect emissions relating to your business. This includes everything from employee’s commutes, to the effect of customers using your products. 

Once you know where your emissions come from, you can start to work out the size of your footprint, and from here you can begin to think about ways to reduce it, which is the next step in the process. 

Reducing 

Carbon offsetting doesn’t just refer to capturing carbon emissions that have already been produced. It also incorporates carbon reduction, which focuses on ways individuals and businesses can improve energy efficiency to cut back on emissions. Whether you’re in charge of a global conglomerate or an SME, there are always ways to reduce your footprint and thus reduce the impact you’re having on the environment. 

On a very basic level, the same principles that apply to individuals and households also apply to businesses. For instance, maximising the amount of natural lighting allowed into your buildings, and replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with more efficient LED alternatives can both save you money and reduce your emissions. 

You might also look at broader ways of decarbonising your processes, be it through signing up to a renewable energy supplier, or utilising EVs within your fleet of company cars. 

Sign up to an offsetting scheme

Besides physically reducing your company’s carbon output, the best way to clean up your footprint is to sign up to an offsetting scheme. Some carbon emissions are unavoidable when running a business, and this is where these schemes can step in. They essentially work by an organisation purchasing carbon credits, which are produced by carbon reduction projects such as reforestation. Another way they can be generated is through the decarbonisation of energy grids, through greater reliance on renewable sources like solar and wind.  

In the UK, there are lots of different schemes available for your business to sign up to, but each will be built slightly differently, so it’s important to do your research to find out which is best for you. When searching for a scheme, you’ll want to ensure your money is going towards accredited projects, which is why it’s important to use ones that have earned international certification, such as the Gold Standard.

One key benefit of these initiatives is that the impact can be felt all around the world, as environmental projects will reach far beyond just your local area, with many being set up in developing countries. However, it can be a costly process to be a part of, which could potentially price out some smaller businesses looking to make a difference. So be sure to weigh up your options, and do your research before committing to offsetting your footprint.

Photo by Benjamin Child on Unsplash