Carbon neutral products in the Promotional Products Industry

Can the products we use for promotions be carbon neutral?

This is a question we get fairly often and the simple answer is YES!

That said, let’s look at what carbon neutral means and look at how it can be applied to the product you use for promotional marketing and events.

According to the The European Parliament, Carbon Neutral is defined as “having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks. Removing carbon oxide from the atmosphere and then storing it is known as carbon sequestration. In order to achieve net zero emissions, all worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will have to be counterbalanced by carbon sequestration.” Carbon sink is any system that absorbs more carbon than it emits. 

This tells us that if we manufacture a product and we can simultaneously create carbon sink equal to or greater to the carbon produced during the production of your product, then your production cycle will be carbon neutral.

Image Credit – The Indian Express – Each Acre Of Paddy Generates About 2-3 Mt (Metric Tonnes) Of Residue, Which Needs To Be Managed In A Short Window Of About Three Weeks. Else, The Farmer Has To Burn The Residue Before Sowing The Next Crop.
Image Credit – The Indian Express – Each acre of paddy generates about 2-3 MT (metric tonnes) of residue, which needs to be managed in a short window of about three weeks. Else, the farmer has to burn the residue before sowing the next crop.crop burning

There are natural carbon sink elements like soil, forests and the ocean that absorb carbon. It is estimated that these natural sinks absorb between 9.5 and 11 Gt of CO2 per year however global carbon emissions have been in the region of 38 Gigatons during the 2019 audit. At present there are no artificial sinks available to reduce carbon emisions from the atmosphere that can be seen to make a substantial impact on the deficit. Hence reduction is key to the solution!

Situations like forest fires or deforestation exasperate the situation as carbon is released from these carbon storage sinks when burnt and while deforestation reduces natural sink.

Carbon Offsetting

Unlike natural sink, artificial sink or carbon offsetting is where companies producing products can opt to eliminate carbon they create through offset in a more influenceable industry.

Let’s look at an example to better explain this.

A company producing or buying a promotional range of product is concerned that through its production process, carbon is released into the atmosphere and would like to do something to counteract the process. This would be in the actual production of their promotional products, sea-freight, road-freight, packing and distribution from warehouse to the event, marketing activation or promotional campaign. Other factors include the promotional process where energy is used to power computers or fuel burnt in the cars driven by the the sales and marketing team.

This carbon creation cannot be avoided under current production and distribution processes. This same company decides to offset the carbon created through the production of their promotional products by implementing a carbon offset programme. The programme calculates the carbon released during the various stages above and quantifies it. (through an production/distribution audit)

Through the carbon offset programme, offered and audited by companies who’s sole purpose is to manage these programmes, the company purchases carbon credits to the value of its carbon emissions. These funds are now used to implement changes in industries where change is possible through upgrades in processes and systems.

A good example would be a farmer in a third world country who burns his waste, now participating in the programme and upgrades his processes through the investment and education received. This allows him to reuse the waste or find alternatives to burning which originally created his carbon emissions.

The funds generated by the company looking to reduce the carbon footprint of its promotional products through the purchase of the credits, invested into the farmer who implemented new processes and simultaneously reduced his carbon emissions, is now offset against the emissions of the promotional products production and distribution. This leaves an end result being a net zero carbon footprint.

Conclusion…

Is carbon offsetting the silver bullet we are all looking for? The answer is No, but it is a first step in an artificial system to reduce where we can, Yes! If you are the farmer, your future is set to always contribute to the system. If you are the company looking to reduce your carbon footprint, the next step after carbon offsetting is to find better ways to bring the same products to market. But it’s a move in the right direction.

Before you buy, think about the impact and if you are still unsure, speak to us!

All the products you buy can be 100% Carbon Neutral if you so decide.

Reforestation 2
Photo Credit: Photo by Rodrigo Abd/AP/Shutterstock (10490366a) A reforestation assistant measures a newly-planted tree in a field damaged during illegal gold mining in Madre de Dios, Peru, on . Since the project began three years ago, the team has planted more than 42 hectares (115 acres) with native seedlings, the largest reforestation effort in the Peruvian Amazon to date. The group is in discussion with Peru’s government to expand their efforts What Can Be Saved Trees, Madre de Dios, Peru – 29 Mar 2019