Putting sustainability at the heart of day-to-day business practice is key to a low carbon future, according to Helen Boggs, Marketing and Communications Manager, Agilitas.
The first step in Agilitas’ Net Zero transformation journey involved a root and branch assessment of its green status and situation. The business is already fairly sustainable as its whole model is built on repairing, reworking and reusing tech. “We’ve been doing this for over 30 years, so we’re starting from a good place,” stated Boggs. “That being said, we still recognised that we had a long way to go to be a Net Zero business. We evaluated our current operations and collated our metrics so that we had a well-established starting point. Our team then put together a pledge which outlined the sustainability goals we aim to achieve and a timeline for when we planned to achieve them. This shows commitment to our partners, as well as giving us accountability on our mission.”
At the outset Agilitas looked at offsetting measures and partnered with Ecologi to begin reducing carbon emissions by planting trees. “Reducing the amount of carbon you produce is always going to be the preference over offsetting, but it’s unrealistic to suddenly switch to a true Net Zero business overnight,” added Boggs. “Your staff need to get to work, and in our case, we ship technology hardware around the world using complex supply chains. Offsetting provides a quick-start solution to start making an impact on the environment instantly, but it should not be the sole strategy for achieving a carbon neutral operation.”
The more you can immerse yourself in sustainability, the quicker you’ll pick up ideas and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your efforts will come along
The next step was to subscribe to a more robust and industry recognised benchmarking service. “Although we had been collecting statistics for a number of years, it’s a little like marking your own homework,” said Boggs. “So to have verified figures that our partners can be confident in was important to us. We subscribed to ecoVadis which has given us a score and a forward plan to make meaningful improvements.”
Agilitas has been tracking its Scope 1 and 2 emissions for a number of years, which Boggs says is relatively straightforward to do. But tracking Scope 3 emissions is a lot more challenging as it involves measuring emissions from the complete value chain – including suppliers, investments and transportation. “There is a lot to consider and it’s quite daunting to know where to start,” commented Boggs. “The most important thing to do is start the conversation. Speak with every customer, supplier and partner that you can to find out what each of them is doing. There is a lot we can all learn from each other.
By setting unrealistic goals you are more likely to associate the word sustainable with negativity and this will create the wrong company culture
“The next step is to build a more robust sustainable procurement policy. This will run across every department – from ordering stationery and office supplies, to our couriers and logistics partners. Everyone within our organisation will have a part to play and actively work with suppliers to ensure our supply chain is as sustainable as possible.”
Agilitas is using ecoVadis to record and benchmark progress and to give more guidance on the next steps to make the biggest impact. “Even if a lot of the information exists already in our organisation it can be dispersed across the company in lots of different formats,” said Boggs. “Collating everything and presenting it for assessment is no quick task. However, if you get into good habits of how to create and store policies it makes things much easier and helps with compliance further down the line.”
While it’s important to have a passionate leader driving sustainability initiatives, Boggs also believes that Agilitas will only be truly sustainable if it’s embedded in company culture. “We have a green team that meets monthly to discuss and implement various initiatives within the organisation,” she explained. “These can be quite small things such as providing wildflower seeds or organising company litter picks. Our aim is to always be quite visible, meaning sustainability initiatives just become a part of everyday life at Agilitas.”
The company is also rewriting its onboarding process to include information about sustainability practices and how employees can get involved. This way new members of the team are instantly aligned with Agilitas’ sustainability values. “Each department is also responsible for developing its own sustainability KPI and can choose its own objective that they want to work towards, reporting their results to the rest of the company each month,” noted Boggs. “It’s kept fairly light-hearted so it becomes more about positivity and changing mindsets rather than becoming another task on the to-do list. However, it is a way to get everyone thinking about sustainability and working together to achieve it.”
What next for Agilitas’ Net Zero strategy? “We’ve done quite a lot of work surrounding our own operation, so the next step for us is to work more with our suppliers and build a more robust sustainable procurement policy,” explained Boggs. “This will run across every department – from ordering stationery and office supplies to our couriers and logistics partners. Everyone within our organisation will have a part to play and actively work with suppliers to ensure our supply chain is as sustainable as possible. Even if you are quite far into your sustainability journey you can still pick up new ideas from others and, importantly, share what has worked and hasn’t worked in your organisation so that others can implement successful strategies.
“Typically, businesses keep their strategies close to their chests and it can feel a little unnatural talking about them so openly with external parties. But sustainability is definitely better together and collaboration is key.”
Three steps to Net Zero success
Tracking: Start by recording as much as possible to track your progress. Free tools from the Carbon Trust Calculator can be a good place to start but there are also lots of more sophisticated paid tools that are worth looking into including ecoVadis, CDP and G17eco. But even if you start by putting figures in a basic spreadsheet, it gives you something to benchmark and improve on.
Collaboration: Whether this is with colleagues, customers and partners or attending seminars or workshops, the more you can immerse yourself in sustainability, the quicker you’ll pick up ideas and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your efforts will come along.
Action: Talking and devising strategies are all good, but without action they are meaningless. Even if you start small, when you begin putting sustainability practices in place, seeing your efforts will help drive further action in the future.
Top tip for green starters...
Do not think that you have to be at Net Zero by tomorrow. By setting unrealistic goals you are more likely to associate the word sustainable with negativity and this will create the wrong company culture. Start small and get your teams involved as much as possible.