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How to Measure Your Company’s Carbon Footprint

The climate crisis is here. And it's not too late to do something about it. To do that, we have to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 globally and reach net zero by 2050.

The best way to get involved as a business? Understand how much your business emits, and start to reduce it. There’s a strong business case for it too.

Cutting carbon can help you:

  • Stand out from the competition,

  • attract customers,

  • improve profit margins,

  • boost brand awareness,

  • enhance employee satisfaction,

  • earn new investments, and

  • get ahead of upcoming policies.

If you’re not sure why you should measure your footprint, or you want to learn more about how you can take advantage of these benefits, read our previous article and learn why calculating your companies carbon footprint can’t wait until tomorrow.

But if you’re here, you’re probably already convinced.

Once you’ve decided it’s time to measure your carbon footprint, now what?

Before You Footprint: What You Need to Know

There are a few things you need to know before you dive into calculating your carbon footprint.

First things first:

Business Footprint vs Product Footprint

You need to decide what kind of footprint you’re going to do. Are you going to look at your entire operations or just your products?

Each style of footprint gives you a different set of information to act on. The footprint of your business operations is what most people have in mind, and that’s what we’ll cover below.

This footprint gives you a sense of the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases your business emits on an annual basis. While this is a great place to start and an important step that every business should take, it doesn’t tell you about environmental impacts beyond emissions.

However, when you look at your product impact, you can see the non-emissions impacts your business has too. This includes various environmental stressors like water pollution, ecosystem degradation from mining or deforestation, labor impacts, landfill lifetimes, toxin transfers, and others.

Ultimately, your company’s climate goals will determine which footprint you need to calculate.

Here, we’ll focus on the operations footprint.

Understanding Emissions Units

Before we get much farther, you should also understand the units used to talk about carbon footprints.

You may be familiar with carbon dioxide as the main cause of concern for global warming, but there are other greenhouse gases we need to worry about: methane and nitrous oxide, just to name two.