What does carbon offsetting mean for our business?

Author: Heide Hackworth   Date Posted:5 May 2021 

What is carbon offsetting, and how do you become a carbon neutral business? We cut through the greenwashing and explain exactly what carbon offsetting means for our business.

Earth Greetings have been 'carbon neutral' and offsetting our greenhouse gas emissions since 2008. But what does carbon offsetting mean for our business and why do we do it?

Carbon offsetting means purchasing carbon 'credits,' through projects that keep fossil fuels in the ground or absorb greenhouse gases, in order to offset the carbon footprint that the activities that you or a business has created.

One of our goals at Earth Greetings is to contribute to a brighter future for wildlife and our planet. We recognise that our existence as a business and the products we create, will have an impact on the planet through the creation of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. We know that we urgently need to reduce global emissions to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees, and want to play our part to contribute towards this goal.

Earth Greetings' environmental policy is to first seek to reduce emissions as much as possible. We call this Treading Lightly. Some of the ways we do this is running our business premises on solar power, recycling and reducing outgoing waste to a minimum. We also purchase from carbon neutral suppliers whenever we can, so that some of the products we make are already carbon offset. You can read more about how we Tread Lightly here.

Carbon neutrality goes one step further than carbon reduction, because it is acknowledging and offsetting any greenhouse gases we simply can't avoid.

How does a business become carbon neutral?

In order to become a carbon neutral business, we engage the services of a professional carbon offsetter. Since 2008 we have partnered with Carbon Neutral annually, who assess our organisational carbon footprint using detailed data output from our accounting software. This data covers all business expenses including freight, electricity and travel, and cost of sales expenses - that is, the embedded emissions from the products we create.

There are 3 'Scopes' for measuring emissions of a business, that set the boundaries for measurement. Scope 1 covers burning of fossil fuels for heating, and Scope 2 covers electricity use. Scope 3 goes much further, because it includes indirect emissions from activities such as travel, freight, waste to landfill and products and services delivered to a business through third party suppliers.

Earth Greetings choose to offset our emissions right through to Scope 3, because the boundary of these emissions includes everything our business can quantify and influence.

Additionally, on our request, Carbon Neutral goes one step further than Scope 3 with our audit, measuring the greenhouse gas from shipping the materials used to create our products to the manufacturing facility - right from the source. We do this because freight is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas for our business.

Additionally, some of the products we create are made from raw materials unable to be sourced in Australia such as bamboo and organic cotton. We want to ensure that the freight emissions are offset so that the environmental impact of shipping these materials to Australia does not cancel out the benefit of making products from environmentally friendly materials.

Carbon Neutral gathers all this data to create our business emissions inventory, in other words our 'carbon footprint.' The greenhouse gases measured are from sources covered by the Kyoto Protocol, so not just carbon dioxide - but also methane and nitrous oxide etc. All of these greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming, are reported as total units of 'carbon dioxide equivalents' (Co2-e).

The Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor. Photo: Carbon Neutral

To become carbon neutral, we literally pay for any greenhouse gases we create.

This financial 'penalty' further encourages us to further reduce emissions into the future, but also creates an opportunity for us to contribute toward a positive outcome. There are many types of offset available to purchase. We have decided to purchase offsets that directly contribute to the restoration of the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor, because this project fits perfectly into our goal to contribute toward a brighter future for wildlife and our planet.

What is the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor?

The Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor is a large scale revegetation project in the northern wheatbelt of Western Australia developed over the past 20 years by Carbon Neutral. The project is funded via the purchase of carbon offsets from businesses like Earth Greetings, and in agreement with landowners, mixed species of trees and shrubs indigenous to the region are grown here on degraded land.

Revegetating this landscape encourages wildlife to return and improves soil quality, while at the same time removing carbon from the atmosphere. The project began in 2008, and since then more than 30 million mixed native species of trees and shrubs have been planted across almost 14,000 hectares! Their goal is to increase this to 100,000 hectares. In other words - it's HUGE.

Carbon Neutral explain that their primary objective of the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor project is to sequester and store carbon for 100 years, and that over the project's life they expect that 1 million tonnes of CO2-e will have been sequestered by the trees already in the ground. This figure will increase as they continue to restore more areas.

The Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor is the first project in Australia to achieve premium Gold Standard certification. Gold Standard was established in 2003 by WWF and other international NGOs to ensure projects that reduced carbon emissions featured the highest levels of environmental integrity and also contributed to sustainable development.

Contribution of the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor Toward the UN's Sustainable Development Goals

Finally, the co-benefits of the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor project contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to which Earth Greetings are proud to contribute via the purchase of carbon offsets. The benefits to the community from this project include the following environmental, social, economic and heritage outcomes:

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Contribution to the positive mental health and well-being of indigenous communities.

SDG 4: Quality Education
Provision of job-specific training sessions and inductions for local employees.

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
Lowering salinity in both ground and surface waters over the project’s life.

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
Creation of 400+ jobs, over 50 indigenous roles and more than 80 businesses have been engaged.

SDG 13: Climate Action
At least 967,695 tonnes of CO2-e will be sequestered during the project’s lifetime.

SDG 15: Life on Land
The biodiverse plantings of native trees and shrubs contain over 30 species of conservation significance.

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals
Partnerships with 11 local and national organisations have been formed from the project.

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