Every time we switch on a light, charge our computer or drive the company van, we’re adding to our business’s carbon footprint. At a time when climate change is a popular talking point in the corporate world, more and more businesses are looking to minimise their impact on the planet.
In a time when most of our energy comes from fossil fuels, it can be difficult to reduce your carbon footprint to zero. That’s why many businesses opt to offset their emissions, with carbon credits that come from tree planting projects.
Have you ever wondered just how many trees it would take to offset your business? If so, this is the blog for you. We’ll be discussing carbon offsetting and just how many trees it would take to counterbalance the emissions of your business.
In the most basic sense, being carbon neutral means that you balance the emissions you release with emissions taken in by the planet. It’s a state of net-zero emissions. We release carbon emissions and then they’re taken in, either by natural things like trees, oceans or other carbon sinks or by manmade interventions such as carbon capture. The result? No net increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
When your business uses energy from fossil fuels, your carbon footprint grows. That means that it will take more effort to offset your carbon emissions and go carbon neutral. Sometimes, offset efforts can be paired with reducing your carbon emissions, ensuring your business has a minimal impact on the planet.
Carbon offsetting is when your business compensates for the carbon emissions it produces, either directly through energy consumption or indirectly through its supply chain or resource consumption. In order to offset the carbon you produce, you must remove the equivalent amount from the atmosphere.
Whilst some larger businesses may create their own offset projects, for most, carbon offsetting comes in the form of carbon credits. A carbon credit is a tradable certificate that represents a specific amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere. Companies can buy these from other companies to compensate for their own emissions. In a sense, it permits a business to release a certain amount of carbon dioxide, knowing it has been offset on their behalf.
A carbon sink is an ecological term for anything that absorbs carbon dioxide, rather than releases it. Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest carbon sinks and how they work.
It’s estimated that the oceans have taken in around a quarter of the emissions we’ve produced since the industrial revolution when fossil fuel consumption really took off. Oceans are such big carbon sinks due to phytoplankton, microscopic algae and bacteria that suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Only about 42% of the carbon taken in by a forest is stored in the plant above the ground. The rest is trapped by the soil. Our soil takes in about a quarter of manmade emissions every year. A lot of this carbon dioxide is trapped in peatland or permafrost.
Perhaps the most well-known carbon sink, forests and trees absorb a lot of our carbon dioxide. In total, the world’s forests absorb 2.6bn tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and provide us with oxygen in return. Deforestation is a big threat to this, with around a football pitch-size patch of forest destroyed every second.
Sometimes it can be hard to picture the environmental impact of your business. Yet knowing that impact is vital to offsetting your emissions. Every business will have a unique carbon footprint, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question.
There are a number of factors that affect how much CO2 a tree can take in, such as the type of tree, the season, and the location. According to scientific studies, a single tree can offset anywhere between 21.77 kg CO2/tree to 31.5 kg CO2/tree per year. In order to offset 1 tonne of CO2, you would need between 31-46 trees.
For simplicity, let’s go for the conservative estimation of 21 kg per tree per year. You’d therefore need around 43 trees to remove 1 tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere. In order to calculate the exact number of trees your business would need, you’ll first need to know your carbon footprint.
When calculating your business’s carbon footprint, there are three scopes you can consider:
Direct emissions come from your business processes and vehicles, such as on-site energy use and petrol emission from business vehicles.
Indirect emissions don’t come directly from operating your business, from things like purchased electricity, heating and cooling.
These come from less direct sources such as your business’s supply chain, as well as your employee waste and travel.
Before you calculate your carbon footprint, it’s worth considering what scope you’re considering as your business’s responsibility. After that, you’ll need to gather data from energy bills, external supply chains and/or waste production.
Calculating your business’s carbon footprint can be complicated. That’s why many businesses opt for help from either online carbon calculators or carbon audit services. With a carbon audit, an external party will assess and calculate your emissions on your behalf.
According to carbon independent.org, the CO2 generated by:
These are the numbers we’ll use to calculate how many trees it would take to offset your business’s carbon footprint.
A micro business uses around 10,000 kWh of gas and 10,000 kWh of electricity every year. This means that the direct carbon footprint of a micro business is around 4,940 kg per year.
If one tree takes in around 21 kg of CO2 per year, then your micro business would need 235 trees to offset your carbon footprint.
CO2 from gas: 0.185 kg X 10,000 kWh =1,850kg
CO2 from electricity: 0.309 kge X 10,000 kWh = 3,090kg
Total= 4,940kg per year
Tree to offset: 4,940kg/21kg = 235 trees
A small business uses around 25,000 kWh of gas and 20,000 kWh of electricity every year. This means that the direct carbon footprint of a micro business is around 10,850 kg per year.
If one tree takes in around 21 kg of CO2 per year, then your micro business would need 514 trees to offset your carbon footprint.
A small business uses around 45,000 kWh of gas and 37,000 kWh of electricity every year. This means that the direct carbon footprint of a micro business is around 21,608 kg per year.
If one tree takes in around 21 kg of CO2 per year, then your micro business would need 1,028 trees to offset your carbon footprint.
Here at Tariff.com, we empower businesses to take control of their emissions and do their bit for the planet.
Here at Tariff.com, we can measure your carbon footprint for you. Our team can carry out a carbon audit of your business, using provided information to calculate your carbon footprint. We can also install IPSUM across your business, a software that shows your carbon emissions in real-time for easy monitoring.
Reduce Your Business Emissions
We know that reducing your business emissions isn’t easy. That’s why our team is here to support you. We can make practical recommendations to reduce your carbon footprint, identifying areas for improvement across your business. Let Tariff.com gradually reduce your emissions and impact on the planet.
Switch Your Energy Supplier
At Tariff.com, we know that switching energy suppliers can be a hassle. We believe that business should get the most from their utility providers, so our team provide market comparison and switching support to find you the best deal. We also support businesses as they transition to renewable energy tariffs, which has the added bonus of reducing your carbon footprint.
Offset Your Carbon Emissions
If you want your business to have a minimal impact on the planet, we can help your business offset its carbon emissions. We can calculate your carbon footprint, as well as the carbon credits it would take to make your business carbon neutral or net-zero. We’ll then use our vetted green partner network to source carbon and biodiversity credits.
Monitor Your Progress
We know that going carbon neutral or net-zero doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why our team will be on hand to monitor your progress and ensure you’re on the right track. We’ll continue to monitor your carbon emissions to check that your business is truly carbon neutral. You can then share this with your customers and market your new green credentials.
At Tariff, we’ve made a firm commitment to helping businesses of all sizes and industries go net-zero ahead of the Government’s 2050 target. As one of the UK’s leading energy switch providers, we’re in the ideal position to prepare your business for the future.
Whether you’re uncertain of how net-zero policies will impact your business, or you’re seeking a more affordable solution for your business’ green energy needs, we’ll provide a bespoke package that covers everything from finding the right provider, to organising all the paperwork, to finalising that switch over.
Get in touch today to find out more about how Tariff can help your business begin its green journey.