Don't make me angry.... you wouldn't like me when I'm angry
This week I was pleased to see an announcement from Brewdog outlining how they are now Carbon Negative (https://www.brewdog.com/uk/tomorrow) and to be honest I found the news quite exhilarating. Here was a UK business making such a significant announcement, not about reducing carbon or being neutral at some point in the future but NEGATIVE NOW……
So I clicked on the comments page to see the growing collection of well-wishing replies and happily there were many, but interspersed amongst the extolment and praise were more cynical posts. Now don’t get me wrong we Brits are programmed to be cynical so I initially put these comments down to people who’d had particularly bad weekends or had put a sizeable amount on Dillian Whyte to win in under 5 rounds but I noticed a pattern. One word these growling cynics all seemed to use continuously…Greenwashing.
Now Greenwashing is not a unique term or concept. It’s a term given to companies or individuals deemed to over promoting their ‘green’ credentials.
Many companies can easily be accused of this but my personal liability insurance doesn’t span to potential fall out of me naming any specifically so shall we just leave it at ‘you know who you are’
To avoid any such accusations companies are looking to demonstrate their green credibility with a more scientific set of measures and present these in an accessible way – their sustainability reporting… I posted a few weeks ago about this very thing and we are beginning to see more companies promoting their own sustainability credentials. Brewdog are not unique in this regard but they are a prime example of a company that can make bold eco-friendly announcements and smite the loudest dissenting voice with a CSR report accessible and readable by all who care to view it
Anyone who has read my previous posts will know that I am firm believer the in the power of the consumer when it comes to eco savvy purchasing and the successful companies of the future will grasp this. However, as with the flight path your reporting strategy has to be such that you can measure and present your progress and credentials to combat the Greenwash accusation.
There are companies that look at this specific area. One case in point is Emitwise who’s whole purpose and reason d’etre is to support business in measuring their carbon impact and then present their position and progress to the wider world.
Just as with chartered accounting, carbon accounting exists to be able to back up corporations’ statements about their performance but in this instance it’s about sustainability or environmental impact as opposed to financial. You wouldn’t expect a company's yearly statement to say ‘Yep we’re doing really well and highly profitable’ and the leave it at. So in the same way if someone announces their commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility then carbon accounting and associated reporting is there to produce the back up.
There is another interesting aspect to all this. Companies may not even know they fall foul of the Greenwash label. Business has to be clear about all the measures they need to include when measuring their carbon footprint. As more demands are made on analytics this has a direct correlation to the data required to support it. The more data the more processing required and this may lead to more CPU usage and supporting infrastructure (regardless of on-premise or not)– with the associated carbon impact. So you can see how a poorly thought through data model and unrealistic reporting demand can itself lead to negative impact on your carbon footprint
In summary, and again this my opinion only, to avoid the possible Greenwash stigma there are certain steps and considerations to be taken.
When measuring your CO2 impact – include ALL aspects of your business and supply chain.
Ensure you have a robust and scalable reporting solution to back up your claims
Be sensible about the data you want to monitor and the level of granularity you want
As well as your CSR output articulate the flightpath you are on and where you want to be and by when. It can’t be all done overnight