Your path to a zero carbon business
Four-part plan to help start, and continue, on the path to a zero carbon business
28th November 2022, 11:20 am
Don’t know where to start, or how to keep going, on reducing your business’s carbon footprint?
Harnessing our experience, at TalkTalk we’ve developed a simple Measure.Engage.Act.Design. structure to give businesses in Greater Manchester some inspiration on how to start and keep going.
#1 Measure: your footprint
As management guru Peter Drucker said, what you can’t measure you can’t manage. It can be daunting, but there are resources to help – SME Climate Hub in particular has great tools.
#2 Measure: Make a commitment
Like a diet or an exercise challenge, if you publicly declare your intention you’re more likely to stick with it. TalkTalk have signed up to Science Based Targets and UN’s Race to Zero pledges; for smaller businesses again the SME Climate Hub is a good example.
#3 Engage: your stakeholders
You will be surprised by the interest in net zero and carbon emissions from across the spectrum, and not just your typical treehugger. In my role, two groups in particular are engaged – investors and large enterprise business customers we serve.
Find out what these stakeholders expect – it helps you on your goals and can also be beneficial to your bottom line.
#4 Engage: Find your fans
You may well have an untapped pool of sustainability champions within your employee base.
At TalkTalk we have a #netzeroheroes network of over 100 employees, who champion our environmental causes. The group have collected pledges on how employees can help with our sustainability goals. They also raise awareness in a fun way, such as a Christmas clothes swap.
Harnessing that passion can help you go further on achieving your goals.
#5 Engage: What’s your industry doing?
We can not do this all alone. Finding out what’s happening in your sector is vital to see how you can reach your goals. Within UK telecoms, a major transformation is happening from century-old copper phone lines to ultrafast fibreoptic broadband. Our own research has found this new technology is up to 80% less energy intensive; accelerating this shift is integral to our climate change goals.
#6 Act: Less is more
In this time of soaring energy bills, finding ways to reduce energy is a more important than ever. Despite network traffic climbing 40% post pandemic, we’ve managed to reduce the electricity consumption in our data centres by over 15% in last three years. This contributed to overall 80% reduction in carbon footprint of data centres (scope 1&2) over five years. So closely monitoring energy usage is win-win for climate and costs.
#7 Act: invest in innovation
In tackling climate change, there are also great opportunities for innovation. At TalkTalk we’ve invested in air to cool data rooms in the data centres – cooling the equipment through natural air and not greenhouse gas emitting fans. This investment has yielded great costs savings (part of #6 above). For any business in Greater Manchester looking to invest in low carbon technologies, take a look at the TalkTalk Full Fibre Fund, which is offering financial assistance to achieve your sustainability transformation.
#8 Act: circularity
Embracing circular principles can help – it reduces waste, emissions and helps drive down costs. We send out millions of routers and household electronic equipment each year. What we’ve noticed is that by refurbishing old routers we use 18x less carbon emissions than manufacturing a new one, compared to manufacturing a new one. So far this year it’s saved around 3,000 tonnes of CO2e, so circularity really helps.
#9 Design: new products
There’s no point making all that effort to transform your business, only to revert back to carbon-intensive ways.
When you’re launching a new product or service, can you estimate the climate impact and whether this help or hinder your goals? The latest device TalkTalk has launched – a Wi-Fi Booster – now comes with recycled plastic and no single-use plastic in packaging.
#10 Design: part of the organisation
It’s been said that 80% of the environmental impact of a product or service is determined in the design phase. So it’s vital to be considering how we consider future products, services and roadmaps.
At TalkTalk, we’ve just started this, ensuring that no major new products are signed off without consideration of the environmental impact. Can you embed sustainability in such a way to your organisation?