We believe those with the ability to lead the way must do so.
In 2020 we declared a climate emergency and committed ourselves to a radical plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2022. That’s a full 28 years ahead of the UK’s national target, and 18 years ahead of Greater Manchester’s target as a city region. In fact, it’s one of the most ambitious commitments you’ll find anywhere in the world.
What do we mean by carbon neutral?
Carbon neutrality can be defined in several ways, so we want to be clear about what we mean.
For us, carbon neutral means we will have no negative impact on the climate through our own operations and our wider value chain by the end of 2022. This means including all three ‘Scopes’ of greenhouse gas emissions:
- Scope 1: The direct emissions from sources we control, such as our vehicles and factory heating.
- Scope 2: The indirect emissions we’re responsible for through our electricity consumption.
- Scope 3: The wider indirect emissions we’re responsible for beyond our own operations, such as the goods we purchase and the emissions of our employees when they travel to and from work.
Most organisations with ‘carbon neutral’ goals only include Scopes 1 and 2 because these are the easiest to measure and control. However, the majority of an organisation’s impact on the environment is actually in their supply chain. That’s why we have radical plans to work with our suppliers and customers to achieve environmental sustainability.
- 2015: Begin annual carbon footprinting assessments.
- 2015-2020: Make improvements to factory and fleet, including biomass heating, rooftop solar, LED lighting and smart energy-saving assets.
- 2021: Achieve carbon neutrality for Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Switch to 100% renewable electricity supply
- 2021-2022: Engage with end-to-end supply chain on carbon reduction and corporate responsibility. Offset remaining emissions through local carbon offsetting investments.
- 2022: Achieve carbon neutrality for Scope 3 emissions. Remove poor performing suppliers and customers from supply chain.
- 2023: Offer carbon neutral and circular economy products.
Our investment strategy
We are investing 10% of our turnover over 5 years to achieve our goal. To date we’ve invested £1.5 million in assets, training and other improvements. This may sound like a significant outlay, but most of our investments are actually cashflow neutral or cashflow positive:
- Our 980kW biomass burner generates ~£60,000 a year through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. We reinvest this income in further improvements.
- Our 246kW rooftop solar PV array is being paid for with a cashflow neutral loan over 6 years using the savings on our electricity bills. We also generate income through the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) and Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) schemes.
- Our LED lighting system is being paid for through electricity savings.
Our strategy shows that you don’t need to be a large business with significant funds to go zero carbon.
Our supply chain strategy
We cannot achieve carbon neutrality alone. Starting in 2021, we will begin an active engagement programme with our suppliers and customers to encourage and support commitments on carbon reduction, corporate responsibility and UN Sustainable Development Goals. We have already begun the process of sending out questionnaires to gather data.
We plan to offer all our stakeholders training in carbon reduction action plans and reporting. We are also conducting R&D projects to find and develop new materials that support the circular economy, and we are looking to engage with suppliers to make this happen.
We will support all our stakeholders to take action with the aim of creating a community of likeminded companies we can work with. However, if we deem a customer or supplier is failing to make progress on carbon reduction by 2022, we will not do business with them. It is a radical step, but we believe in putting our money where our mouth is.
Our approach to carbon offsetting
Unlike other businesses, we don’t believe in simply buying carbon credits from the other side of the world to offset our emissions. Taking responsibility for your actions means making changes yourself, not relying on others to do it for you. However, it isn’t possible for us to achieve full carbon neutrality without some form of carbon offsetting.
We want to make sure any carbon offsetting we require is done as locally as possible. We are a member of the City of Trees 100 Trees Club here in Greater Manchester and we are currently looking for opportunities to join up with others to fund a large solar farm or tree planting exercise in Rochdale.