In September this year, we were delighted to be awarded the Green Rhino Award for Excellence in Sustainability at the Dubbo Chamber of Commerce Business Awards. This award comes almost 4 years after Transforce Bulk Haulage became the very first certified carbon neutral road transport company in Australia. As such, the Award provided a unique opportunity for us to reflect upon our carbon neutral journey and to refocus our direction heading into our fifth year of carbon neutrality.
How Does a Company Achieve Carbon Neutral Certification?
This is a question we are often asked. Achieving carbon neutral certification means undertaking a rigorous and complicated process. This can be quite lengthy and the cost can be considerable if consultants are engaged to assist you through the process.
A simplified overview of the process can best be demonstrated by the following:
Step 1 - Calculate your carbon footprint: This includes both direct and indirect emissions along with ancillary activities the business undertakes or is involved with.
Step 2 - Develop an Emissions Management Plan: This will include setting reduction targets and establishing systems to cater for carbon offset purchase and retirement.
Step 3 - Public Disclosure Statement: which is a summary of promises made and can be placed on a company's web site.
Step 4 - Independent Verification: audit and verification of carbon footprint calculations and the Emissions Management Plan.
Step 5 - Submit Application: This is the process whereby the application is subject to refinement through extensive liaison with the office of the National Carbon Offset Standard.
Step 6 - Certification: Once all negotiations are finalised and the application is approved the certification is granted. An annual licence fee is payable for logo usage.
Step 7 - Maintain Certification: This is achieved by a process of continually reducing your carbon footprint in accordance with your approved plans, independent audit and carbon offsets.
Obstacles and Barriers
As can be seen from the points above, the road to carbon neutrality is not an overly straightforward one. There are a number of obstacles and barriers to undertaking the carbon neutral journey, and indeed, for maintaining carbon neutral certification.
Carbon neutral certification schemes can appear complex and daunting! In many instances companies will need to engage subject matter experts to guide them through the comprehensive process. This adds an initial cost element to the process.
Also, getting the methodology right, and ultimately approved, is not a simple undertaking. This is especially so if you are the first business of your kind to seek carbon neutral certification. You can expect extensive consultation, negotiation and liaison with the office of the National Carbon Offset Standard.
The cost of achieving and maintaining carbon neutral certification is not easily recoverable. In an industry with tight margins, the additional cost of carbon neutral certification should be taken into account prior to commencing the journey. It is also important to remember that whilst many customers and clients will in principle support your endeavours to achieve carbon neutrality, not all of them will be willing to pay any extra for it.
Currently, there are no Government incentives or benefits to be derived from achieving carbon neutrality. It is a journey where you will bear all the costs and receive no rebates, incentives or commercial credits from any Australian Government.
Everything's an opportunity to show our commitment to carbon neutrality!
It's not all gloom and doom! There are a number of real benefits to be had from achieving carbon neutrality.
The most obvious benefit is of course, your contribution to sustaining the environment. Operating any enterprise or business on a carbon neutral basis is of huge benefit to the environment. It means your business does not leave a carbon footprint and less carbon in the atmosphere has to be a good thing, right?
Undertaking a comprehensive review of your business when developing Emissions Plans and methodologies allows you to gain greater insight into the cost drivers of your business. With a better understanding of your costs you can make more informed decisions and decisions which better impact upon your bottom line.
Marketing and branding are vital to establishing and maintaining your business's profile in the commercial environment in which it operates. Achieving carbon neutral certification and utilising the certified carbon neutral logos under licence are great ways to distinguish your business and give it that point of difference over your competitors.
Maintaining carbon neutrality forces you to seek out and adopt new technologies. For Transforce, one way we achieve this is through trucks and truck engine technology. Continual advancements in more fuel efficient engines with less harmful emissions means that we need to seek out and adopt such technology and ensure it is well represented in our fleet.
2017 and Beyond
As Transforce prepares to enter our fifth year as a certified carbon neutral company, we will ensure that we are tracking in accordance with our Emissions Plan.
We will continue to ensure our procurement practices are ideally placed to allow our purchases to align with our promises. Everything from the pens and paper we use, to our trucks on the road need to positively contribute to our carbon reduction strategies. We will reduce our carbon emissions at every opportunity in accordance with our targets and plans and we will offset those emissions that we can't reduce.
Transforce will continue to operate on a carbon neutral basis and we will continue to forge strong strategic alliances with companies who also value our demonstrated commitment to the environment.
We're passionate about our carbon neutral journey and achievements. So if you would like to know more about Transforce or the carbon neutral certification process, we are always happy to talk with you.