The carbon footprint is the tool to know what our environmental impact is. At the individual level we can reduce it, plus companies and organizations have an essential role, due to responsibility and capacity for action
According to the dictionary definition, \”The footprint is the mark left by the foot of man or animal on the ground where it passes\” . And it is true, our transit through the planet does not go unnoticed, it is not exempt from burdens.
People, organizations and companies with their activity, raw materials and waste that all of them generate, cause a considerable environmental impact .
Meridianly, we leave a mark.
And if we talk about carbon footprints , we are going to focus on one specifically, the carbon footprint.
The footprint we leave due to the emission of greenhouse gases, the result of our human activity .
There are certain data that will help us shape and recognize these emotions and connect them with our activity.
Did you know…
- An average person throws away 50 kg of packaging per year . And this packaging that we throw away represents a huge cost. Specifically, recovering 2 tons of plastic is equivalent to saving a ton of oil.
- To produce a ton of virgin cardboard, 1. tree logs are needed . If we recycle this ton, we would be saving trees, which are very important for oxygenating the atmosphere, since they are capable of absorbing CO2.
- For each ton of recycled glass, one hundred and thirty kilos of fuel and 1,200 kilos of raw material are saved .
The emission of these gases (GHG) has environmental consequences that worsen dangerously year after year: thermal differences between day and night, heat waves and cold waves, sea level rise, habitat loss, ecosystem changes, difficulty of supplying fresh water, etc.
What is the carbon footprint?
The carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by direct or indirect effect by an individual, organization, event or product. It is expressed in tons of CO2.
Today, almost all the activities we carry out (mobility, nutrition, manufacturing processes…) and resources that we consume and use (appliances, household products, refrigerators,…) involve energy consumption, which means contributing to emissions to the atmosphere and consequently, participate in the global warming of the planet.
To reduce the carbon footprint , we can all take action, even personally. It is mainly about changing certain habits and acquiring others that are more respectful with the environment, and consequently with ourselves.
Individual actions to reduce the carbon footprint :
The slogans to continue are: avoid unnecessary energy spending and ensure that consumption is as renewable as possible.
Examples to reduce the carbon footprint:
- Reduce the volume of waste :
- Bring our own duffel bag when we buy it.
- Avoid purchasing packaged products or if we buy by weight, use a single bag for different products.
- Reuse containers as much as possible: bags, bottles, boxes…
- Use recycling bins appropriately.
- Limit driving: avoid trips that we can do on foot and use other means of locomotion, such as public transport, bicycles, electric scooters…
- Save energy consumption:
- Make sustainable use of household appliances: reduce the number of washing machines, making the most of their capacity, use lower temperature programs and not use the dryer so much.
- Adjust the thermostat of the air conditioning systems: for each degree you save between 5 percent and 8 percent of electricity.
- Use energy-saving light bulbs.
- Disconnect electrical devices when we are not using them, such as the mobile charger, TV screens, computer… if we leave it connected, it continues to consume energy, which is why they are called \”energy vampires\”.
What are greenhouse gases?
The primary greenhouse gases are:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2): comes from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, lignite or natural gas, substances created within the earth millions of years ago and in which the carbon present in the atmosphere then accumulated.
- Water vapor (H2O): it is obtained by evaporation or boiling of liquid water or by sublimation of ice.
- Methane (CH4): is the final product of the anaerobic putrefaction of plants and is twenty-three times more potent than CO2.
- Nitrogen oxides (NOx): are multiple gaseous binary chemical compounds that are formed by combustion at high temperatures.
- Ozone (O3): is a highly oxidizing gaseous compound, whose primary use is disinfection and deodorization of the environment, and for the treatment and purification of water.
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): used as refrigerant gases, extinguishing agents and spray propellants.
Global implication for the reduction of emissions into the atmosphere
As a result of this global environmental problem, a number of governmental and institutional ideas concerned about the future of the planet arose a few years ago.
And they remain ready to seek solutions with the maximum number of countries involved.
Let’s do a brief review:
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – CNMUCC – (1992) : an association of each and every one of the countries that are parties to the Convention.
- The Kyoto Protocol (1997): is an international protocol that aims to reduce GHG emissions.
- The Paris pact (2015): presents a road map to limit the increase in global warming.
- Agenda 2030: launched by the General Meeting of the UN, it sets out one of the objectives of sustainable development.
- Carbon markets:
-Regulated market: these are the emission quotas regulated by each country signatory to the pacts.
-Voluntary market: where all kinds of companies participate out of their own interest, be it in favor of sustainability, CSR…
- Carbon footprint registry (2014): the Council of Ministers approved a royal decree creating the carbon footprint registry, compensation and carbon dioxide absorption projects.
The relevance of calculating and recording the carbon footprint
Calculating the carbon footprint allows us to identify the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
It is about compiling the data referring to a company’s consumption of materials and energy and translating them into equivalent CO2 emissions, in order to have an emissions inventory that is as complete and reliable as possible.
Once the carbon footprint is calculated , a record is kept through a standardized system. The most used are GHG Protocol and ISO fourteen thousand sixty-four-1.
In the case of products or services, the measurement is carried out bearing in mind the entire life cycle of said product or service, and the most widely used standards are: PAS 2050:2011 and ISO/TS 14067:2013.
For companies and organizations, the calculation of the carbon footprint is configured as a reference or starting point.
Its registration makes companies aware of the impact they produce and allows them to incorporate the most effective actions to reduce emissions or compensate, in the case of not being able to avoid them, in compensation projects.
There is a calculation method accessible to everyone, conceived by the French engineer Jean-Marc Jancovici, specialist in climate change.
Contribution of companies in reducing the carbon footprint
To reduce or offset the carbon footprint or ecological footprint , it is necessary to apply a set of practices and activities that isolate or trap the CO2 produced from the atmosphere.
And it is not just a question on a personal level. Companies are essential social agents to achieve an expensive transformation of a low-carbon society that is respectful of climate change .
In fact, there are many companies that have voluntarily adhered to the carbon footprint registry, and some already want to stand out as “carbon neutral”, that is, they aspire to a zero CO2 calculation.
Benefits of calculating the carbon footprint for companies
- It is the best indicator of a company’s degree of eco-efficiency, which allows it to optimize its administration.
- Identify cost saving possibilities.
- It facilitates the transparency of the environmental impact: it allows other organizations to fill their carbon footprints, and allows it to be incorporated as a criterion for the selection of distributors, materials and sustainable design.
- It offers reliable information to users.
- Positions the company at the forefront in compliance with this environmental legislation.
- It is a differentiating factor in the market, promoting internal and external sustainability.
Measures to reduce the carbon footprint in companies
It all starts with a change of focus that allows policies to be instituted that have an impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The main lines of action are : the implementation of renewable energy, mobility policies for workers and transport of goods, institute more efficient technologies, reduce the consumption of resources and reduce waste to a minimum.
What are the specific measures that companies can apply?
Companies can apply a series of measures to reduce their carbon footprint , which will have a huge environmental and social impact.
- Enroll in carbon footprint registries.
- Develop a Carbon Fund Time Project for a Sustainable Economy.
- Reduce the consumption of raw materials, energy or products.
- Offset the carbon footprint: making a voluntary economic contribution to projects that manage to reduce an equivalent amount of CO2.
- Reduce energy use:
- Use high energy efficiency lamps.
- Hire energy from renewable sources.
- Change refrigerant gases for others with less global warming potential.
- Schedule the shutdown and automatic disconnection of equipment.
- Promote flexible work, to reduce the number of hours of employees at the facilities.
- Bet on sustainable supply: have distributors or intercessors who also have a registered carbon footprint.
- Reduce or adjust the mobility of workers and the transport of goods.
Mobility and carbon footprint reduction policies
The main sources of greenhouse gas emissions derive from the means of locomotion, by road, train, maritime and by pipeline.
In Spain, the transport field represents twenty-five percent of total emissions, of which ninety-five percent comes from road transport.
For this reason, the mobility policies implemented by companies with the purpose of reducing the carbon footprint are so relevant.
Measures to make transport more sustainable:
- Establish measures that promote the use of more efficient means of transport:
Offer advantages to those who attend work by public or collective transport, by bike or on foot,…
-Effective driving training.
-Reduce air travel, betting on videoconferences.
- Promote the use of alternative fuels :
-Introduce a fleet of electric cars, the hydrogen cell, biofuels or biomethane.
- For the transport of goods, promote the use of train and ship , instead of road.
Reference taken from chironprevencion