According to research published by the British Chambers of Commerce, only one in ten SMEs in the UK currently measures their carbon emissions. But, as the maxim goes, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. There are free basic online calculators, such as those offered by The Carbon Trust, that will let you get a handle on the shape and size of your carbon footprint. But for something more sophisticated, you can invest in paid-for carbon accounting platforms from companies such as Normative or Greenly. And the results may well surprise you.
“Without measurement, I would have assumed that switching all our energy usage to renewables would have made a big difference, but that actually turned out to be less than one percent of our overall footprint on the planet,” says Whittaker. “What makes the most impact is our actual physical product. We’ve reduced our carbon emissions in the last year by 15 percent just by making some fairly simple changes in our supply chain, such as bundling more products into each delivery, which means fewer transport links. By measuring and knowing where your footprint is, you’re able to make choices in the right areas.”
If you’re committed to making a positive change, then checking the sustainability claims of suppliers is also vital. “Choosing the right partners is really important,” says Sharon Chan, Co-Founder and COO at Sourceful, a company offering sustainable packaging solutions. “A lot of companies talk about sustainability for the sake of selling their products, and sometimes they make false claims. You have to dive deep.”
Sourceful uses paper with a Forest Stewardship Council certification, to ensure it comes from responsible sources, and uses recycled plastic certified by the Global Recycled Standard. It’s also partnering with ReCon2, a not-for-profit University of Manchester spin-off that has developed technology for quantifying the amount of recycled content in plastic products and packaging. “We’re very excited to see what it brings up in the future,” says Chan. “It’s all part of constantly trying to improve visibility in terms of the materials we use.”