Derek Baker, Head of Health, Safety and Environment at Activate Group shares his experience of leading the business to gain carbon neutral status.
Last November I was proud to lead Activate Group to achieve carbon neutral status in line with PAS2060. Since then, several suppliers and customers have asked to chat to us about the achievement and how we went about it.
This is something I’m very happy to do because taking action for the environment is a passion of mine, and I love working for a business that shares my commitment.
So I thought I’d boil down the process into five steps, and cut out some of the complexity and jargon that muddies the waters.
First, a bit about Activate Group’s carbon neutral status. As an accident management company, we offer services to the insurance and fleet industry through our Motor Repair Network and sopp+sopp businesses. The Group also includes Activate Accident Repair, a chain of purpose-built body shops, and Activate Parts, our specialist parts division.
To achieve carbon neutral status we calculated our carbon footprint and offset emissions for all these businesses in line with the PAS2060 standard.
Here’s my five-step guide to how we did it:
Buy-in is key
There’s no getting away from it. Becoming carbon neutral has time and cost implications.
You’ll need collaboration and input from teams across the business, so it must be a business objective with leadership backing.
It’s also important to remember that this is a long-term commitment. Once you achieve the accreditation you need to show annual progress towards reducing carbon emissions.
That said, the benefits speak for themselves. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s something customers are very interested in. Plus, reducing emissions usually means lower costs and a more sustainable business in the future.
Data, data, data
This is the bit that takes the time. You need to establish your annual energy consumption. That means gathering data on your use of gas, electricity, and fuel. This also includes data around all vehicles used in the business including company-owned, leased, and rented, and the fuel expenditure of each. Not forgetting the supply chain, as you’ll need to estimate their emissions using expenditure data. Then there’s waste disposal, it’s important to generate data around the type of waste produced and recycling activities.
At this point I’d recommend partnering with a third-party energy specialist, we worked with ECA Services. They were able to provide a template of all the data required and offer advice and guidance on how to collate it.
Once we’d gathered the information, they used it to calculate Activate Group’s carbon footprint for the past twelve months.
Now you’ve gathered the data you have a wealth of information you can use to build a strategy for reducing emissions.
Looking at the points where energy-usage is highest highlights your biggest opportunities. It forces you to think differently about the business and look for new ways of doing things – no bad thing.
I also found that as we asked questions of suppliers and partners I could feel the building momentum around sustainability. There are some great initiatives out there.
The next step for Activate Group was to offset current emissions. This is an industry that has historically been plagued with fraud, so do your homework.
There are lots of options, but the key is to choose a credible, registered project, audited by a trusted organisation. Your energy specialist will help guide you through this.
We worked with iOffset to invest in carbon credits linked to a project in the Brazilian rainforest.
Finally, you can register for PAS2060 certification, a standard administered by BSI. Whilst this is not mandatory at present, it provides transparency by offering a recognised method for achieving carbon neutral status. The standard formally recognises an organisation’s climate activity and demonstrates clear, verified proof of their fight against climate change. So, why wouldn’t you do it?
You’ll need to work with a third party who will audit your data and targets.
Once everything’s been validated, display your carbon neutral accreditation with pride.
What happens next?
Of course, that’s not the end of the process. The ultimate aim is to reduce emissions. Producing an action plan will focus the business on its next steps. We’re measuring progress monthly, engaging with team members and working with suppliers, looking at new ways of working, using renewable energy sources, and investing in energy-efficient technology.
Being validated by our accredited third-party specialist is a guarantee of compliance, and confirmation we are officially carbon neutral. You must continue to collate data, review it regularly and show progress against your plan each year.
Get in touch
If you’re working towards carbon neutral and have a question or want to chat about how we approached it feel free to get in touch.
M: 07534 045369
Derek Baker | Head of Health, Safety and Environment | Activate Group
Read more article from Modern Insurance Magazine here