Running with the B Corp pack
Adam Huttly, founder of Red-Inc, writes about how B Corps operate in a space where they can help other like-minded businesses drive change and achieve their net zero goals.
‘A historic global culture shift is underway to harness the power of businesses to help address society’s greatest environmental challenges by transitioning to a zero carbon economy. Proof of this shift is the rapid growth of the B Corp movement, which believes in transforming the global economy to benefit communities, society and the planet’.
…writes Adam Huttly, founder of Red-Inc, an award-winning B-Corp company that ‘puts innovation, service and sustainability at the heart of everything’. We thank Adam for the following guest Green Edge article.
We are living in unprecedented times. Accelerating climate change and ecological breakdown pose an overwhelming crisis to which we must respond immediately. For those serious about being part of a positive climate-conscious revolution, 2030 is the target for a rapid transition to a net zero economy.
Not too long ago, sustainable leadership was defined by those 'getting their own house in order' through emissions reductions (scope 1 and 2). But as the pace required to reduce emissions and embrace a net zero economy grows, so too do the efforts from businesses to decarbonise.
While companies are making good progress in understanding their direct impact and emissions, mapping their total impact and across the value chain is a far bigger challenge.
Scope 3 - indirect emissions - are commonly the biggest source of emissions for business, commonly accounting for over 80% of all emissions. Scope 3 emissions are also the hardest for companies to reduce as they fall outside of their direct control.
There are lots of ways to gain sight and control of these less tangible emissions. The easiest is to work with companies who have a common purpose and understand the journey that your business is on.
B Corporations are a gold standard for better environmental and societal practices. They are a network of businesses committed to transforming the global economy to benefit society and the planet by placing purpose above profit.
For businesses looking to work with others who can help them understand, manage and reduce their supply chain emissions, B Corps provide a clearly identifiable, certified, group of businesses - like us at Red-Inc - committed to using business as a force for good. They provide the seeds to a relationship from which great things can grow. When you have over 5,000 companies in 80 countries to choose from, that’s a large pool of resources at your disposal.
B2B B Corp benefits
To earn a certified status, B Corps must meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, legal accountability, and transparency. The accreditation recognises businesses with a strong track record of having a positive impact on people, society and the environment – and their commitment to doing more in future.
Benefits for businesses becoming B Corp certified are well known and include the ability to attract new customers, boost recruitment, retain staff and help business growth. What are less commonly talked about are the B2B benefits of working with a B Corp. For the purposes of this article, we’re looking at the environmental, emission reducing relationship benefits.
Businesses looking to enhance their company’s social and environmental impact can partner with suppliers and other strategic partners to boost their sustainable credentials and make tangible reductions in their emissions. By re-examining the services and products that help keep a business running and growing - insurance, marketing, office supplies, and more - companies can choose to do business with other businesses that operate with a purpose beyond just profit.
Direct reductions to Scope 3 emission levels
It’s still common for businesses to not know the full extent or make up of their value chain emissions. But understanding and addressing all emissions is critical to achieving net zero in the future.
This challenge requires companies to look beyond their immediate operations, to develop solutions that encompass their entire value chain from suppliers to consumers and beyond.
Choosing to work with B Corp-certified suppliers you are automatically choosing to work with suppliers who have had their environmental credentials rigorously assessed and certified. Beyond that, by working with a business focused on reducing their emissions, they can pass on reductions directly to your own business.
The best way to show how this works is to explain how we at Red-Inc operate and where we bring emission reductions to our customers, just by having a working relationship with us. We haven’t even got to the ‘collaboration’ part yet.
Since Day One we’ve taken a pioneering approach to making better and more sustainable choices for our business and our customers. Every element of our business fits our values to be a force for good that puts society and the environment above profit.
We’re a carbon neutral business that has taken a minimalist approach to our operations by not using advertising or supporting a sales team. Lowering our direct emissions wherever possible. We also go beyond our own impact, by taking on the responsibility for our customers emissions as well.
Over the years we’ve reduced our delivery emissions through best practice and common-sense solutions. We’ve removed the industry standard ‘next day delivery’ – instead offering 100% fulfilment. Customers are still in charge of their own delivery timescales – it’s just about introducing a new purchasing and delivery process that removes wasteful second and third deliveries.
In addition, all our deliveries are carbon neutral as we believe in taking responsibility for our impact wherever that falls along our value chain.
Another example of direct actions that benefit our customers carbon reduction journey is by offsetting their paper usage through an industry-leading paper delivery and offsetting scheme. The scheme allows us to be an integral part of our customers’ responsible supply chains by providing them with real, tangible benefits for the planet.
These are just a few examples of how businesses with the right purpose can help reduce their customers emissions.
Reduction through collaboration
Working with like-minded companies can help create broader operational and cultural change for your business, with suppliers providing more information and innovative solutions.
B-Corps are helping accelerate a global culture shift to build more inclusive, thoughtful and mindful business relationships that can have wide reaching benefits for society and the environment.
At Red-Inc we understand and value the power of collaboration. Using our specialist knowledge and our customers’ desire for change, we can help them to make more informed decisions which benefit their businesses, their value chains and the planet.
When you’re in office supplies, selling paper is pretty much front of mind. Businesses in the UK, especially corporate organisations, are still fixated on using virgin, bright white, bleached paper that commonly comes from mills in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Paper is commonly only sold in terms of cost, without the other costs being considered. For us it’s about working with our customers, showing the impact of paper production in terms of carbon, trees consumed, along with the volumes of water and chemicals used in the production process.
Fitting with our low impact purpose, we don’t want people to use paper, but if they do, we want to it to be the best, most sustainable paper possible. That’s why we promote the use of Steinbeis Evolution, a paper that minimises resource consumption whilst exploiting the full potential of a circular economy. This recycled paper is produced in Germany and uses 53% less CO2, 100% less wood, 83% less water and 72% less energy.
It is not mandatory that our customers use this paper, it’s a choice. However, time and time again, on being shown the facts behind virgin and recycled paper production, we’ve helped our customers make more informed choices based on more than commercial gains.
Another way we collaborate with new customers is through a sustainability audit and product review. This helps us to understand their sustainability goals and consumption patterns and see where we can help them to make improvements.
We start any new relationship with our clients by making sure their top purchased products are as green as possible, suggesting alternatives that will benefit them and the environment.
We have even worked with one client to co-design a more sustainable solution for their most popular stationery item – an unrecyclable wire bound notepad. We sought to produce a unique product that replicated what they like in their traditional wire bound notepads but in a format that was 100% recyclable. And with our innovative minds in gear, we have brought the ‘Red-Inc ECO notebook’, a totally new notepad to the market! Proving the positive power of collaboration in helping customers get the best stationery supplies as well as improving their sustainability.
By focusing on solving specific problems for companies we can help change behaviour and open their eyes to new ways of thinking and operating. Showing what is possible when it comes to making changes that benefit the planet.
In the spirit of collaboration, we have even been asked to use our expertise to inspire our customers employees. By sharing our own journey, why what we do works and bringing insight into how individuals can reduce their environmental footprint at work and at home.
The skills required for sustainable beneficial collaboration centre around education and having the right conversations with the right people and sharing ideas about how to achieve mutual goals.
Reporting as part of the process of reduction
Fundamental to making real reductions is understanding where your impacts are in your value chain, where you can make reductions and tracking your progress.
Unlike Scope 1 and 2 direct emissions, Scope 3 emissions are not easily identified and are much more difficult to accurately track. With Scope 1 and 2, a company will normally have the source data needed to convert direct purchases of gas and electricity into a value in tonnes of GHGs. They’re unlikely to have the same insight when it comes to their suppliers of goods and services.
How great would it be to find suppliers who provide reports that allow you to calculate your Scope 3 emissions more accurately? Through accurate and transparent reporting, suppliers can help their customers to track their emissions and clearly identify where reductions can be made.
For Red-Inc and our customers this translates to the provision of a sustainability and emissions reduction report – a first in the stationery industry. We provide data that can include the delivery miles saved (miles and CO2e), acres of rainforest protected (including CO2e), trees planted and an overall picture of the total CO2e savings for all projects. This data in turn can be used to create a clear, verifiable and transparent picture for our customers and their Scope 3 emissions.
Information we provide
2019/2020 – 47.97 tonnes of CO2e saved by consolidating deliveries
2020 – 13,299 cards recycled resulting in 133 acres protected, 133 trees planted and 24,771 tonnes of CO2e safely stored.
2019/2020 – emissions on deliveries are 43% below the industry average
2019/2020 – 419,560 tonnes CO2e savings across all collaborative projects, the equivalent to 3,866,246,002 miles being driven by an average petrol car.
(information taken from the reports of an actual corporate customer)
Having accurate reporting that can not only show progress on projects but also provide data that feeds into customer reporting systems is invaluable in the fight against climate change and customer goals to reduce emissions and achieve a net zero future.
B Corps are legally and morally committed to prioritising their responsibility to the environment and society. It allows businesses (both large and small) to operate in a space where they can help other like-minded businesses drive change and achieve their environmental goals. It means that companies like ours can sell net zero solutions as well as products and services.
B Corps are committed to pushing the boundaries of what is possible when looking to use business as a force for good. This includes going beyond simply buying ‘eco-friendly’ products. It allows relationships to be developed based on mutual goals, the potential to collaboratively solve problems and track progress. It enables them to test new initiatives and challenge pre-existing assumptions to come up with better solutions that will have long lasting benefits for their customers, society and the planet.
Read Green Edge’s original article on B Corps here.
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