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Reducing CO2 emissions: how to turn your obligation into an opportunity

03 Dec 2020
Every organization faces the challenge of reducing its CO2 emissions. Businesses need to submit clear-cut plans to the government, explaining how they will reduce energy consumption. The overarching objective: to be completely CO2 neutral in 2050. The problem is, this obligation feels like a burden, as most organizations have already optimized their business processes. But is it, really? Or is there a way to turn your obligation into an opportunity?

Improving at several levels: ask yourself 3 questions

CO2 emissions result from the activities you perform, the buildings you use (which, for example, consume energy to keep you warm), and the materials, machines, and tools you use (whose production has once resulted in CO2 emissions).

Keeping this in mind, there are several levels at which you can improve. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Is it possible to redesign your products or services?
  2. Can you change your production processes?
  3. Are there any quick-win products, such as LED bulbs or electric transportation, which can replace the environmentally unfriendly products you currently use?

Obvious measures that benefit the environment and your business

At M3 Consultancy, we believe you should practice what you preach. So, we've taken a close look at our own CO2 emissions and discussed how we can reduce them. Key components for us are travel by plane and car, as well as energy consumption and the use of electronics. Reducing emissions is not that difficult: we can just be more selective when it comes to traveling (and do more online), occasionally use the train, and switch to electric cars. We can also renew laptops every 4 instead of 3 years.

Last year, we moved to a large, historic building, which is rather expensive in terms of energy use. We have tried to offset this by designing it with recycled or easy-to-recycle materials and using LED bulbs for lighting.

And you know what? We've discovered that most measures make sense from a business point of view. COVID-19 has forced everyone to reconsider the necessity of working on location. But even before the pandemic hit, many organizations were exploring the benefits of remote working. Do you really need to jump on a plane that often? If long-distance travel is required, can you offset it by working from home every other week? And now that electric cars are so convenient and competitively priced, why would you still use fuel cars?

From lunch to production: other points for consideration

Once you've ticked off the major boxes, take a moment to look at the smaller ones. Here's an example: lunch at the office. Meat and dairy consumption cause a lot of CO2 emissions. You can also consider whether food is imported from far away, which means it has a bigger environmental impact.

On top of that, there may be low-carbon alternatives for the products you currently use that are not more expensive. In some cases, they're even cheaper!

If you purchase large amounts of materials for production purposes, you may want to consider changing your approach. Besides switching to low-carbon alternatives, you can review material consumption per product. New (computer-aided) designs may allow for lower material usage. If you purchase less and create the same product, you will pay less eco-tax, save on material costs, and improve the product's usability and price (as it's become a bit lighter and cheaper). A famous example includes a printed, computer-aided designed joint for scaffolding with ~40% material reduction.

Create your own opportunities!

As we've discussed in this blog post, it's definitely possible to turn your obligation into an opportunity. Not only will sustainability measures improve the environment, they can also benefit your business.

Lastly, keep in mind that every employee wants to contribute to a better world. So, taking the reduction of CO2 emissions seriously may create a positive atmosphere in your organization, too. People will feel motivated and inspired, which is also advantageous from a business perspective!

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