With climate change climbing the corporate agenda, how important is it for manufacturers to bear the crest of their carbon reduction efforts? While real benefits lie beyond the branding, do companies know exactly what these are and is there a self-promotional motive for displaying a green badge? Becky Done finds out
Visit the website of any big company and it is likely you will find a statement or even a report on its relationship with the environment. For manufacturers, whose work generally involves high energy usage and the production of waste, an environmental policy is becoming increasingly important. Attitudes to the environment have become a way that companies can differentiate themselves from the competition, and attract business from customers and consumers whose buying choices are increasingly motivated by more altruistic factors than pure cost.
Unsubstantiated claims are worth little, however, which is why many firms are seeking to verify their green commitments by using a recognised standard. The purported advantages of this approach include such business benefits as stronger supplier relationships, cost savings and brand enhancement.
But what is the reality of embarking on a project that will prove your carbon reduction credentials to the world?
The Carbon Trust is a private company set up by the UK government in 2001. One of its objectives is to help organisations reduce their carbon emissions. Two ways in which it can help manufacturers do this are through its Carbon Trust Standard (CTS) and its carbon labelling scheme, run by the Carbon Label Company, a subsidiary of the Carbon Trust.
Hundreds of companies have applied to be assessed for the CTS since it was launched in June 2008. Replacing what was the Energy Efficiency Accreditation Scheme (EEAS), the CTS is the only certification that measures carbon reduction by a revised method of quantitative analysis, which is complemented by a qualitative assessment that examines the carbon reduction policies the company has in place. The whole process is carried out by an accredited consultant, selected by the Carbon Trust to match the needs of the individual firm. Certification is valid for a period of two years, after which the company must be reassessed.
CTS certification will cost the organisation anywhere from £4,000 to a maximum of £12,000 — although existing EEAS certificate holders are eligible to convert
for a discount. A pre-assessment is carried out to inform applicants if they are likely to pass, mitigating both disappointment and financial loss.