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How to Become Carbon Neutral

Carbon neutrality is an environmental claim that can be applied to:

Below we go through the "F.R.O.C." process, that will lead to Carbon Neutral Status.

  1. Footprint
  2. Reductions
  3. Offsetting
  4. Certification (Optional)

Being Carbon Neutral is a n ongoing process, that has to be reported on every year.


 The life cycle of a product, service, organisation or individual is a mass of little emissions that need to be added together:


Most of our clients are organizations. But is worth noting you can be a carbon neutral organization, but not make carbon neutral products, or you could make a carbon neutral products, whilst being an un-carbon neutral organisation. The two things are different.

For foot printing an organsiation we typically follow methods (or at the very least the framework) as set out in PAS 2060. We divide emissions in to categories Scope 1, Scope 2 , Scope 3. 

For organisational reports, it is considered fair play to just measure Scope 1 and Scope 2. These are quite easy to work out from utility bills and mileage records etc. You will then end up with Scope 1 & 2 organisation footprint. 

Case Study 1 - We under took carbon footprint work for a company that supply second fit services in the construction industry. They employ about 20 people, and have lots of people whizzing around in vans & cars doing work at different sites. They have one office, and various warehouses. Their annual Scope 1 & 2 Carbon Footprint was 138 Tons.


Working out the Carbon Footprint of a product, can be quite tricky. Even a simple "thing" such as a potatoe, or an M6 Nylock Bolt will require working out on a spread sheet. If we consider a potatoes as an example, we would first have to define a functional unit. This might be "1 kg of loose (no packaging) Wilja raw potatoes ready to buy on supermarket shelf". Let us think of the life cycle of that potato:

So if we now consider the life cycle of a smart phone, or a toaster, or a car, or a can of soft drink we might find that there is a good deal of maths to be done.

Case Study 2: We undertook a life cycle assessment for a manufacturer that makes specialist fluids for use in electrical appliances. We visited the factory and they gave us a tour of the facility. We then examined process flow charts, and made requests for further information. We also examined phases of the life cycle beyond the factory (included in cradle to grave assessments) and made estimations if cradle to cradle system, were implemented. We were able to give a carbon footprint for 1 ton of fluid over its life time. The work was completed under an NDA.


For an individual (provided they are not a running a business) this can be done quite well using any number of online calculators. These make a set of assumptions based on travel, housing, diet, kids, pets, holidays, Christmas (level of decadence), and then provide you with a footprint. As of 2021 this figure for an adult in the UK is on average 12 tons / CO2e / annum.


A service carbon footprint is worked out in much the same way as a product carbon footprint. You add up all of the "bits" of carbon, that go in to making up the service. Examples might be provision of hotel accommodation, provision of server space, provision of cleaning services. In each instance you might add up the footprint of the washing of pillow cases, or power consumption of servers, or volumes of cleaning chemicals used, to come up with a final carbon


Once you have worked out you footprint you will be able to decide on how to reduce it. In working out the footprint some numbers will jump out of the page as being rather large (hotspots) and you may wish to focus on those. 

Below we have expanded upon transport and energy use as potential hotspots.


Reducing transport related emissions can help reduce footprint of organisations or products. Although in most products the transport makes up a relatively small part of the footprint. For an organization however, transport can make up a large part of the footprint.

For example revisiting Case Study 1 above, out of the 138 tons of CO2 emissions in a given year, for the company in question 116 tons which related to transport. There is a bif scope for saving here, depnding on:

In this way you can start to examine possible routes to reducing CO2 emissions, which will be accounted for in the following years report.


Depending on the business type, energy use might form a large part of footprint.

Courier Company - Central office managing fleet of 100 vans. Electricity and Gas use are likely to be insignificant when compared to transport related emissions.

Data Centre - A modern remotely managed data centre, with few on site staff. Would likely have very high energy use, and low transport related emissions.


For manufacturers the bulk of their emissions may be tied to their process. Which might be making ready meals, or specialist fluids. In these instances technical solutions may deliver energy saving, or reduce waste and lead to carbon reductions per functional unit.


For a detailed over view of the Offsetting Services we provide: Carbon Offset

Offsetting is a sticking plaster approach to Neutrality, which if carefully done is fine, but if not carefully done is misleading and probably illegal (misleading under Competition & Markets Authority guidelines).

In simplest terms the process is as follows:

Type of Offset

There are removal offsets, and prevention offsets.

Removal offsets use direct capture, and trees to take CO2 out of the air.

Prevention offsets, these prevent would be sources of green house gases, such as methane get in to the atmosphere. Land fill gas capture, or agricultural methane capture as two examples.

We would discuss what is best for you, and what you budget is.

Prevention offsets and typically less expensive than removal offsets.

But tree planting is out favorite, because of added bio diversity benefits. It is also attractive to think about, which is why many companies use tree planting. A company that makes perfumes for example might not which to be associated with landfill sites in any way.

Quality of Offset

This is where we earn our fee. There are a lot of dubious offset offering around, and even if they appear OK on paper they may be theoretically flawed.

For example, an offset based on wind power being provided in an developed nation, and claiming that as an offset is on paper acceptable. But as wind power is now one of the cheapest forms of electricity generation and is being installed all over the world anyway, it is a perhaps pushing the boundaries of propriety to suggest it is an offset.

If we look at tree planting, there is a divide in quality here too. Quality is reflected in cost, and availability per ton.

Case Study 1: The Offset "bill" for the company with 138 tons of emissions, ranged between £1,380 - £12,006.

The lower figure was for landfill capping offsets in third world, the higher figure being UK tree planting.


Provided the reporting is clear, and as far as is possible, accurate then there is not need to certify.

We are not a certification body. But for the majority of projects we undertake the client is choosing to complete the neutrality process on a voluntary basis.

It may be that if the company were a supplier to say a chain of hotels, or a large supermarket chain, they may request certification as part of the their contractual agreement. In which case we can quickly arrange and deliver the certification process using an external certification body.