5 Keys to a Carbon Reduction Strategy

With all eyes on companies, launching a carbon reduction initiative has to be more than just a public relations move. Organizations are finding that it is an important way to align company values with employees, customers, and stakeholders. It’s also part of creating a competitive edge and gaining more control of the supply chain. However, it’s not an easy task. It requires buy-in from operations to the C-suite and everything in between.

Companies embarking on this journey must make it an important part of the fabric of operations. That means building it into culture and processes and regularly tracking progress. Read on for five of our tips to build a carbon reduction strategy.

1. Create a Culture

Reducing your company’s carbon footprint will require effort from the top of the organization to the bottom. For starters, leadership needs to build environmental responsibility into the company culture. With a top-down emphasis on company sustainability, the path to successful outcomes is more assured.

Leaders should ask:

  • How does reducing the company’s carbon footprint, water, and waste support its mission, vision, and values?
  • How can the company show the change and not just talk about it?
  • What kind of resources does the company need?
  • What will be the changes to equipment or processes?
  • Is there a need to hire or train talent to manage sustainability projects?
  • How does the business communicate this new direction inside and outside the organization?

It’s not an easy pivot, but it’s an important one. Many stakeholders will be excited that the company is leaning into these commitments and initiatives, but some may be nervous about what it means for them (especially employees). It’s important to listen to their concerns. There’s a good chance that you can not only get them onboard but gain valuable information on how to reduce carbon from the “doers” living and breathing your operations.

Keep in mind that everyone has different values, so you’ll need to provide well-rounded messaging to announce the initiative. Some people may not feel personally aligned with sustainability. Fortunately, the benefits of reducing a company’s carbon footprint go beyond making the world a better place. Embracing sustainability improves public image, gives a competitive advantage in an increasingly value-driven consumer model, and can even reduce costs.

2. Work Across Departments

Reducing the carbon footprint can mean changes for every department. That may seem obvious, but sometimes it may feel like getting buy-in from leadership alone is enough. It’s the employees that will make sustainability “stick” inside the organization. Having everyone understand their role enables teams to work together efficiently.

It’s key to involve manufacturing and production departments. Ensure they are included from start to finish so they can point out opportunities as well as any potential potholes. This may mean finding champions in those departments. Leaving teams to their own devices to organize details about how they’ll work together to achieve such large goals will likely result in miscommunication and missteps. Instead, companies should be transparent around who is responsible for what. That way, everyone will know who to go to with specific questions.

3. Find Big Wins and Low-Hanging Fruit

A great way to build a carbon-reduction-friendly culture is to identify and prioritize sustainability efforts. You may want to look beyond carbon emissions to include water and waste tracking into your sustainability strategy. Analyze your business through a carbon emissions lens to identify the biggest carbon producers. This could be with your fleet, manufacturing, warehousing, or elsewhere. Once you know where to look, make a plan that shows the easy improvements and the more intensive projects. Build momentum with the low-hanging fruit and celebrate the bigger wins. You may also need to bring in an outside perspective for guidance. That’s perfectly fine. There are many resources out there to build your knowledge. In fact, SustainaBase is here to help identify your organization’s hotspots so that you can build an efficient and meaningful carbon reduction strategy.

Positive Vibes when Achieving Carbon Neutral Status

If you are looking for best practices and insights, check out our case study. We helped Nestlés’ Garden of Life brand certify its complete portfolio as carbon neutral.

4. Build Processes

Reducing the company’s carbon footprint must be built into all processes. Routines, operating procedures, and workflows are the drumbeat of any organization. Without standardizing sustainability into the workday, it’ll be difficult for carbon reduction projects to grow roots into the foundation of your business. Processes should clearly outline expectations for employees and vendors. This should include criteria for selecting new vendors considering that the supply chain is generally the largest source of carbon output.

Create and share clear documentation with anyone that will be impacted. Documentation should include any new review processes that are being implemented, goals, future plans, and requirements for vendors. Clear guidelines ensure that everyone understands the expectations. They may not be perfect right away. It’s likely they’ll identify new opportunities on the road to lower carbon emissions. Encourage suggestions and process improvement as your teams learn.

5. Set Clear Goals and Targets

Just as with any other initiative in a business, setting goals for reducing carbon footprint motivates the group and helps everyone stay on track. Goals give a clear set of objectives and a path to success. They aren’t just helpful for internal groups – they also tell external groups that the company is taking its commitment seriously.

Everyone in the company should be aware of these goals, from interns to CEOs. Go back to step one and consider how these goals align with the mission, values, and vision of the company. When it’s time to build KPIs, link your sustainability reporting efforts closely to the targets you have set and any relevant compliance requirements. Tying small goals to these large concepts makes them more digestible and exciting.

Unlike other initiatives, everyone may not understand the metrics you’re tracking when it comes to carbon emissions. Ensure that stakeholders understand what the metrics mean and how they’re being measured. Basically, break it all down into laymen’s terms whether you’re communicating to employees, the board, or the public.

Additionally, ensure you have the tools to accurately measure changes in carbon footprint on a regular basis. How will you track both vendors and direct carbon emissions? What is considered success for your company? These are decisions that many companies struggle with and may choose to partner with another company to determine.

And finally, assess progress regularly. By not overlooking this vital step, companies can keep track of progress towards their goals. However, your progress tracking is only as solid as your data and the ongoing flow of that data. Having a robust toolset to track sustainability data is absolutely critical to the success of the initiative.

You’ll need to plug into data from around the organization, process the information, and turn it into intelligence. We like to think that businesses see a bigger sustainability impact when they can focus on their programs, not chasing numbers. If you need help determining whether manual processes will suit your needs or if a sustainability platform like SustainBase is the right fit, we’re happy to guide you.

You Got This!

Launching a carbon reduction strategy can be very overwhelming. If you’re early in the process, we’d like to take a moment to congratulate you on taking steps that will benefit your company and the planet! Don’t worry if you’re not sure where to start. We recommend partnering with a sustainability company that can help you build a plan and track progress as you continue on the journey. Access to reliable data is one of the biggest hurdles many companies run into, and it can be prevented by following best practices early on. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us today.

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