I had the following question put to me recently: “As a purely digital business, how do we “prove” if you like that we are taking sustainable business and emissions seriously? How do we make sure we do business with like-minded businesses?”
The first point is that as a small business, there is no legal requirement to “prove” your sustainability or eco credentials. Large companies are obliged to report emissions, but not so a small digital business. Its more about communicating your action and intent, in a way that your customers will accept and is practical to you. That slightly nebulous point, and the freedom it gives to businesses can make comparison difficult, and can give rise to misunderstanding or worse, as the Competition and Markets Authority has already recognised.
Some top tips:
- As a small digital business (unless you are a wannabe Facebook or Google) it is likely your Scope 1 and 2 emissions are quite modest. Your biggest impact will be in the nature of the service you provide. For example, at one extreme: you could be providing digital analysis to help oil companies exploit new reserves (helping increase emissions) , at the other you could be providing image analysis to identify scrap materials in a recycling plant (helping reduce emissions). So if you are really taking emissions and sustainability seriously, ask yourself: what is the purpose of your business? In a digital business its quite attractive and comforting to be benign, but can you use your capabilities to tackle the tough emissions problems of customers and actually make negative emissions impact in their businesses?
- You can calculate your Scope 1 and 2 emissions quite simply (see elsewhere on our website) and declare them, much as a larger company would. Seek to reduce your Scope 1 and 2 emissions, as an ongoing effort, and offset the balance. Again publish what you have done. You can attempt to identify your Scope 3 emissions, which will probably come from your suppliers, e.g.: telecoms, computer hardware or cloud services. Better suppliers will give better data on their emissions and programmes to reduce. Avoid those that don’t look like they are taking it seriously. Take opportunities to get into innovative solutions, e.g.: use refurbished computers or hook up with a sustainable telecoms supplier like Zen and learn from them. Having done all that you can then reasonably self-declare that you are Net Zero. See elsewhere on this website for more information on the process of doing this. To give added weight to your Net Zero declarations, you can have them checked and confirmed by independent consultants like ourselves.
- Engage with your customers. Tell them what you have done on sustainability and emissions. Find out what they expect of you, and what sustainability issues they have that maybe you can help with. Their problems are probably bigger than yours, and they will be looking for solutions.
- Become a Bcorp. Its not expensive , and it offers a sustainability and ethical framework that puts you in a recognisable class apart.