GREEN MANUFACTURING: Make carbon footprinting part of your business plan

December 9, 2009   by Brett Wills

One thing manufacturers can count on as the world economy recovers: western governments will be applying pressure, regulatory or otherwise, to encourage greater environmental responsibility in their industrial sectors. It’s likely contracts at home and abroad will be won or lost in part by the size of your company’s carbon footprint.

With that in mind, more companies are turning to carbon footprinting as a way to gain a competitive advantage, mitigate risk and drive internal green transformations.

Simply put, a carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases that are a direct or indirect result of your company’s production processes, products and people. Understanding the business benefits from developing a footprint helps explain why the number of companies publishing carbon footprint reports has grown more than 64% over the past five years, according to the State of Green Business 2009 report. Here are four reasons why you should do the same:

Customer demand. As environmental sustainability becomes more of a priority, customers are demanding to know something about the environmental impact of the companies they do business with. Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Index introduced this summer requires its 100,000 suppliers to answer 15 questions regarding their sustainability efforts. Scores are based on the answers, which will be one of the key criteria applied in an overall assessment. The first question gets right down to business: “Have you measured your corporate greenhouse gas emissions?”

Managing risk. Developing a corporate carbon footprint improves your understanding of your company’s emissions profile. You can assess exposure and develop strategies to cope with these new demands.

Identify areas of opportunity. What gets measured gets managed. Understanding what areas of the business are producing the greatest amount of emissions is the first step in developing strategies for minimizing emissions and realizing cost savings.

Future recognition for voluntary action. Follow international standards such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol ( Registering your carbon footprint with a credible agency such as the Carbon Disclosure Project ( ensures voluntary efforts to reduce emissions will be recognized in future regulatory programs.

Companies currently have a choice whether or not to invest in carbon footprinting. Those who take a leadership role today will enjoy the benefits that come with being an early adopter.

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