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How to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Business

Since the 1980s, businesses have produced more than 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. In the following decades, the stance of governments, consumers and businesses toward greenhouse gas emissions and environmentally-friendly practices has shifted. Now, it has become a priority for organizations of all sizes to reduce their carbon footprint, with almost half of all Fortune 500 companies setting targets for decreasing their carbon footprint.

Their approach to reducing their carbon footprint includes the following eight techniques.

1. Minimize Business Travel

In the U.S., transportation encompasses 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, second to electricity, with companies spending more than $1.2 trillion on travel. By decreasing your business travel to reduce your carbon footprint, your organization also lowers its operational costs, which can support the funding of other endeavors, such as new product development.

In many instances, organizations can supplement business travel with video conferencing technology. While the technology and equipment do require a financial investment, it provides a return on investment as your company minimizes its travel and conducts more of its meetings through virtual means. For non-negotiable business travel, try to combine trips or appointments as much as possible.

2. Adopt Sustainable Procurement Principles

Depending on your company’s product or services, incorporating sustainable procurement principles into your supply chain, from production to transportation, can significantly lower your carbon footprint. As this approach includes your supply chain partners, it may require your business to part ways with suppliers and form new relationships with eco-friendly organizations.

One company reducing its carbon footprint through this practice is Walmart. In a recent announcement, the retailer revealed its intention to only work with suppliers that would support its mission to lower its carbon footprint by 18 percent by 2025. By following the lead of Walmart and other companies, your organization can increase its brand value to consumers while minimizing its emissions.

3. Support Recycling Across Departments

In the office, there are several ways to reduce your team’s carbon footprint. One is by supporting and maintaining a recycling program across your locations and departments, such as by placing recycling bins in high-traffic office areas, like your breakroom. Introducing recycling for electronics is another excellent way to reduce your business’s carbon footprint.

Some companies also use recycled products in their day-to-day operations, such as recycled paper and vegetable-based inks.

4. Lower Building Energy Use

The leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions is electricity, which is why many tips to reduce carbon footprints focus on electricity use. In today’s modern business world, computers are a core component of company operations, which is why many employees leave their computers on or in sleep mode after work. This decision, however, leads to a substantial increase in your operating costs and carbon footprint size.

In fact, one study discovered the annual energy expense of leaving company PCs on was $2.8 billion, which translates to 20 million tons of carbon dioxide. Due to the potential cost- and energy-savings, many businesses implement company policies for shutting down non-essential computer equipment at the end of the day. In some cases, your organization may use an automatic power shutdown system to ensure adherence.

5. Install Energy-Efficient Lighting

Another standard response to the question, “How can businesses reduce their ecological footprint?” is the use of energy-efficient bulbs, like LEDs. For years, studies have shown LEDs offer a cost-effective alternative to traditional incandescent bulbs. They utilize 85 percent less electricity than incandescent and last 25 times longer. As a result, companies and residents have installed more than 450 million LEDs, and 80 percent of all lighting purchases in the U.S. are for energy-efficient lighting.

If your company’s facilities already use LEDs, another way to reduce the carbon footprint in your office is through automated lighting systems. A few examples include occupancy and daylight sensors, as well as smart lighting systems, which eliminate the chance of employees forgetting to turn off lights on upper or lower floors after leaving for the day.

6. Limit Paper Use and Printing

Today, employees use 10,000 sheets of paper each year, producing 35 percent of a company’s waste stream and additional operating costs. A viable way to reduce your business’s carbon footprint — and your expenses — is to limit the use of paper by your staff. Companies can accomplish this goal in varying ways, as multiple tools are available, such as paperless, cloud-based faxing and secure document delivery.

For many industries, it’s impossible to retire paper use completely. By eliminating its use for non-essential documents, however, your organization can save a substantial amount for costs associated with paper, ink, printers, fax machines, copiers and more. It can also lower your use of filing cabinets and reduce the time your team commits to finding documents in a brick-and-mortar filing system.

7. Purchase Green Energy

Another technique for adopting an eco-friendly approach is the purchase of green energy, produced through renewable means. In the U.S., more than 850 utility companies offer access to green power, which is helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint and promote their commitment to the environment. In the U.K, you purchase Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) to receive green energy.

Examples of companies reducing their carbon footprint through the purchase of green energy include Google, Apple, Intel, Microsoft and Kohl’s — together, which make up the top five users of renewable energy. In most cases, green energy features a premium price, which reduces its cost benefits. If your company’s target demographic consists of audiences interested in an eco-friendly provider, however, it could provide benefits by improving your brand’s appeal.

8. Digitize Internal and External Documents

In today’s modern world, it has become a necessity for companies to adopt digital documentation. If your organization is still dependent on paper, digitizing your internal and external documents is a valid and useful way to reduce the carbon footprint in your office. By making the conversion, your company can reduce its expenses on office supplies and improve productivity by preventing document loss and streamlining document sharing through secure, compliant methods.

Before you introduce any of the above tactics into your business, calculate your current carbon footprint to obtain a baseline and measure your success.

Start Reducing Your Company’s Carbon Footprint With Softlinx

At Softlinx, we recognize the growing need for companies to reduce their carbon footprint, as well as the necessity for secure alternatives to pen-and-paper. With more than 20 years of expertise, we’ve become a trusted ally of businesses across industries with strict financial and medical compliance requirements, providing them with viable, secure solutions that deliver 24/7 support and an easy-to-use interface.

Learn more about our solutions, such as our cloud fax service and secure document delivery, by contacting us today.

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