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Our journey to becoming a carbon neutral* supplier
Bryt has always been sustainable by nature - we set out to have a positive impact on the environment since our inception in 2016, because we believe it’s simply the right thing to do. So we’re delighted to announce that we have now achieved carbon neutral* status - and we’re ready to bring all of our customers along with us!
For the past few years, we’ve been putting processes in place to enable us to continuously record our energy usage, other utilities and business travel - and now that we’re able to document and calculate our emissions accurately, we better understand our carbon footprint. For 2019, our carbon footprint was 837.89kg per employee, or a total of 44.1 tonnes - equivalent to the emissions produced by 5 UK households1.
We asked specialist climate advisory consultancy, EcoAct, to independently audit our carbon footprint, to confirm its accuracy, and then worked with them to offset our emissions. In taking these actions, we became a carbon neutral* business. We’re very proud of this achievement, but this is only the start of our journey.
What does carbon neutral mean?
By achieving carbon neutral* status, we have a picture of our impact on the environment across our water, waste, electricity, gas and business travel. We’ve taken positive action to offset the carbon emissions associated with our business – funding a project that ‘saves’ the same amount of carbon as we emitted. We were careful to select a verified offset project that aligns with our Sustainable Development Goals: the Bokhol Solar Project in Senegal, bringing affordable renewable energy to more people.
How did we reach our goal?
As Bryt was built with a sustainable ethos, all of the decisions we’ve made about how and where we operate have been made with the environment in mind, to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum. We chose to locate our office in Birmingham city centre, for example, to make it easy for our staff and visitors to travel to us using public transport. We also recycle as much of our waste as possible - we recycled almost 1.5 tonnes of waste in 2019 - and encourage all of our staff to get involved in helping us to reduce Bryt’s impact on the environment by creating an open conversation about how we can improve our processes further and supporting their personal efforts to shrink their own carbon footprints.
As our Birmingham office is supplied by renewable electricity, we can report zero carbon Scope 2 emissions, which covers the indirect emissions caused by the electricity we purchase and use. If we didn’t have solely zero carbon electricity for our Birmingham Head Office, our carbon footprint would be almost 20% larger than it is today. The fact that we only supply zero carbon, 100% renewable electricity from natural sources also makes a significant difference to our customers’ carbon footprint - it means they are able to report their own scope 2 emissions as zero, too. We are still working to document and reduce our Scope 3 emissions, which are indirect emissions, in areas like our supply chain and our employees’ commute.
We unfortunately can’t yet avoid creating emissions in some other areas (for example, we can’t currently influence the gas heating contract managed by our landlord), and so to become carbon neutral* we’ve had to find a way to offset any remaining emissions. EcoAct helped us to find an extremely worthy way of doing so - by investing in Bokhol Solar Project, the first ever solar photovoltaic (PV) project in Senegal. We buy carbon credits equivalent to our emissions from the Bokhol project, which provides around 160,000 people with access to renewable energy. We chose this project not just because it enables us to become carbon neutral*, but also because it helps people to access renewable energy at affordable prices, provides Senegalese people with jobs, and the sale of carbon credits funds investments to improve the living conditions in the local community.
What we learnt along the way
Reaching carbon neutral* status wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it. Here are our top tips to help your business on its own journey:
- 1. Get to grips with your consumption first
It’s vital to ensure you have a full understanding of your business’ emissions, so your first step should be to measure your carbon footprint. This will help you to identify key areas for improvement, and begin to put a carbon reduction plan in place. For example, our own carbon footprint highlighted that around ¾ of our emissions are from business travel, so this is our priority area for action. We’ve began by launching a new travel policy for staff to encourage travel by train, and to financially incentivise car sharing when travelling to the same meeting.
- 2. Set defined carbon reduction targets
Setting your business a clear target for reducing your emissions is a good next step, as it gives you a goal to aim towards. It’s good to be ambitious, but make sure that your target works for your business - it might not be feasible for your organisation to reach net zero in a year, for example, but you might be able to reduce your travel emissions by 20%.
3. Make carbon reduction a priority
Once you have a carbon reduction goal in place, you need to get everyone within your business on board to give you the best chance of achieving it. Support must come from the top and run throughout your business - at Bryt, for example, sustainability is led by the Board of Directors, but implemented by all of us.
- 4. Ask your staff to get involved
Senior support is crucial, but it’s also important to bring your staff with you on your carbon reduction journey. At Bryt, some of our best carbon reduction initiatives have been suggested by our team - so ask your staff for their ideas!
5. Look for offsetting actions that can help you to achieve wider goals
If you’re looking for projects that can help you to offset your emissions, try to find a project that can help you to reach your wider goals, too. Our support of the Bokhol Solar Project, for instance, aligns well with our ethos and the Sustainable Development Goals we have initially decided to address.
What we’re doing next
We believe in practising what we preach, so we’re not content with achieving carbon neutrality* - our next goal is to reach net zero emissions by 2025. This move represents an important difference; it means we’ll need to take action to drive down our emissions even further. Rather than offsetting our emissions, we’ll need to reduce our emissions and remove any we can’t avoid creating by exploring options such as sequestration projects to absorb or capture carbon emissions from the atmosphere, so they can’t further damage our planet.
This is an ambitious target for us, and our Bryt by Nature framework will get us there. But we’re up for the challenge, and we’re working towards putting a clear plan in place to get there.
In the meantime, we’ve documented our sustainability journey so far in the hope that it will help other businesses on their own sustainability journeys. So if you’re looking for more information on how we reached carbon neutrality*, or you want to find out more about the steps we have taken to become a better business, read our Bryt By Nature book, here.
*Carbon neutral is defined by Bryt Energy as Scope 1, 2 & 3 for the categories of gas, electricity, water, waste and business travel. The scope 1, 2 & 3 carbon emissions for 2016-2019 were 106.64 tonnes and therefore 110 tonnes of carbon credits from the Bokhol Solar project were retired on behalf of Bryt Energy by EcoAct in August 2020.