The Roadmap to becoming Carbon Neutral
The first question most businesses have to ask themselves is "why do we need to become eco-sustainable?"
There are millions of reasons why but the answer is simple: because there is no other choice. Regardless of your point of view on climate change, most national and supranational governments have and are already making laws on sustainability, and citizens are increasingly aware of the serious consequences of global climate change.
Therefore, whether you are "eco-skeptical" or think it’s a challenge which can be dealt with later, if you want to continue with your business, you must adapt to legislative obligations and consumer demands.
To be truly eco-sustainable, a manufacturing company must take into consideration two fundamental aspects: the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the circular economy.
In the first part of this blog serie, I will explain how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and how it is possible to become carbon neutral.
The carbon footprint is the set of all greenhouse gas emissions due to the combustion of fossils that a company generates directly and/or indirectly in manufacturing a product or providing a service.
The carbon footprint includes the quantification of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the life cycle of the product, from the extraction of raw materials to the final disposal of the product.
For example, the carbon footprint generated by an automotive company also includes the carbon footprint of its suppliers who offer technological services, transport services or the commission of the components that make up their vehicles; but not only that, it also includes the carbon footprint that is generated in selling, using, maintaining and subsequently disposing of vehicles.
If an OEM produces 100% electric cars, it does not mean that these cars do not emit or emit greenhouse gases.
These vehicles can produce greenhouse gases indirectly, if for example they were manufactured in polluting factories, or if the vehicles during their use were recharged with electricity produced through the combustion of fossil fuels.
So how can we reduce the carbon footprint of a manufacturing company?
Step one, know your emissions and define the goals you want to achieve
First of all, we need to be aware of the greenhouse gas emissions that our company, our suppliers and our customers produce when creating, using and disposing of our products.
Once we are aware of what our carbon footprint is, we have to define the objectives we want to achieve and in what specific timeframe, and then identify the gap between where we stand and our targets.
Step two, define the strategy and execution plan
To reduce this gap, you need to define an effective strategy and an execution plan.
There are many ways to define a strategy depending on the starting point, the objectives and the intrinsic factors of your business, but to put it simple, we can use the following criteria:
- Switch from the use of fossil energy to renewable energy.
- Reduce energy consumption and be more efficient.
- Change production models and try to be more efficient also in production processes.
- Work with suppliers who share your goals and create a joint plan with them.
- Create new business models that allow suppliers and customers to reduce energy consumption in the phases before and after production.
- Sequester emissions.
- Make an offsetting of the remaining emissions.
The basic foundations for creating an execution plan are:
- Appoint one person (or more people) responsible for the decarbonization project by giving her/him real and economic power to make decisions.
- Define the budget dedicated to decarbonization.
- Try to monetize decarbonization investments by calculating the annual ROI.
- Constantly check the effectiveness of the measures taken and correct them if they are not bearing fruit.
- Define strategic alliances with partners.
- Set decarbonization as the company's priority.
- Listen to the voice of consumers and users, understand their needs and create new, more sustainable business models.
To help us in the decarbonization process, the main tool is technology. It allows us to design better products, manage energy consumption and production processes, calculate and predict events.
Although this use of technology is commonly called "IT for Green", it must satisfy another very important criterion, that of reducing energy consumption produced by technology itself, called "Green IT".