The term “carbon footprint” is used to describe the full extent of direct or indirect carbon emissions released into the environment. This is important as emissions play a huge factor in climate change and are often a consequence of human activities. Carbon footprints can be calculated for individuals, businesses, and even entire countries.
Generally, a carbon footprint is calculated by considering the total sum of carbon dioxide emissions induced by certain activities in a given time frame. There are various charts, resources, and online calculators which can assist in calculating a carbon footprint.
A lot of factors play a role into this calculation. For an individual, this might include driving to the mall by car, buying apples from New Zealand while living in Europe, or taking flights to Bali for the summer holidays.
For businesses calculating the carbon footprint can include how much electricity is consumed, what equipment is used, and how items are manufactured, shipped, and sold.
For individuals, reducing the carbon footprint is quite straightforward and often simply necessitates a change in lifestyle choices. For instance: using a bike instead of a car, avoiding travel by airplane, changing to a renewable energy provider, and eating less meat.
Currently, supply chains contribute significantly to a company’s carbon footprint. The supply chain can amount to four times the carbon footprint of the business’ own direct operations. However, with increased complexity of supply chains, understanding and reducing the carbon footprint demands a lot of considerations. Inchainge’s business simulation games can be of help in understanding where in the supply chain emissions generally stem from and how they can be reduced. The following steps should be taken into account:
Take a look at each individual step in your supply chain. Start with distribution to customers, working your way upstream to suppliers.
For each step, determine the potential sources of emissions. Keep in mind that there can be multiple sources per stage in the supply chain.
Think of how much natural resources you want to save or how much waste you want to reduce. Define these targets explicitly for each step in the supply chain.
For each of the stages in the supply chain, what kind of actions could you think of to reduce the carbon footprint and reach your targets?
The reduction of a business’ carbon footprint does not only have a positive impact on the environment, but is essentially an optimization process. A reduction of the carbon footprint of a company can streamline business and production operations to an optimal point. Additionally, it also implies cost savings for the business as many factors leading to an increased carbon footprint involve the excessive use of resources. Therefore, carbon footprint reduction is of importance for businesses.
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