Stepping Lightly: Our Annual Climate Footprint

A box of Naked Sprout with carbon labelling

According to the old quote, the best way to walk through nature is lightly, so you “leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories.”

But when it comes to the effect of our actions on the climate, some footprints are heavier than others. Businesses that are mindful of their impact should monitor and reduce their climate footprint, the measure of how their everyday operations contribute to the growing global emergency of climate change.

At Naked Sprout we are committed to reducing our impact by calculating our emissions across our operations; from our admin, to our products, to our delivery. We do not try to address our impact by offsetting, so the only way we can make real savings is if we understand our footprint. 

Today we’re publishing our climate footprint for 2023. What is our number, why is it important, and where does it come from? Read on…

A footprint in sand

What’s in a Footprint?

A climate footprint, also called a carbon footprint, is a way to measure the total greenhouse gas emissions caused directly or indirectly by a business, person, product, or event. 

For a business, you can think of it as a bit of environmental book-keeping, accounting for the greenhouse gases that are emitted as the company goes about their daily operations. These emissions are expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which means they’re measured in terms of the global warming potential of a given weight (often kilograms or tonnes) of carbon dioxide.

A working desk in a beautiful green home office

Taking Scope

The sources of emissions that contribute to a company’s footprint are commonly divided into three segments known as “scopes”. We have calculated our emissions according to the guidance from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, and these calculations allow us to build a picture of the total impact of making Naked Sprout.

Scope 1: Direct Emissions

Scope 1 covers direct emissions from sources that a company owns or controls. This is the straightforward stuff: think emissions from furnaces in a factory, company-owned vehicles, or any on-site manufacturing processes. The B Corp tissue mill in Spain does have a furnace, and our delivery partners at DPD have plenty of vehicles, but we don’t directly own or control these, so we don’t have any emissions in Scope 1. 

Does this mean we don’t count those emissions from the furnaces and vehicles at all? No! It just means we’ll count them later, in Scope 3.  

Scope 2: Secondhand Emissions

The second scope is where we count the indirect emissions that come from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, and cooling that the company consumes. Naked Sprout employees work from home, and the laptops we tap away at, as well as all the lights and heating we’re using during office hours, use energy. While the emissions that come from making this energy are generated at UK power plants, they’re our responsibility because we’re using that energy to cultivate our business. 

In total this comes to 2.70 metric tonnes of CO2e for 2023.

Scope 3: The Extended Family

Scope 3 is where we catch up on everything else, covering all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s supply and value chain. This is where we count the emissions from our factory, those that come from the cultivation, harvest, and transport of our raw materials, delivery with DPD, our advertising, and everything else. 

In total this comes to 3127.97 metric tonnes of CO2e for 2023, far bigger than those in Scope 2, accounting for more than 99% of our total emissions. 

The nature of our business means that Scope 3 will always be the largest for us, and we’d expect the number to go up as we grow as a company. But the savings we are making in our emissions should mean that the CO2e per KG of product sold reduces. We have more information about the concrete steps we’re taking to reduce our emissions below. 

LC paper B Corp tissue mill

Our 2023 Footprint

The total annual emissions for Naked Sprout as a company in 2023 are.

3130.66 metric tonnes of CO2e. 

According to the very nifty calculator provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency, That amount of CO2e would be the same emissions you’d get from driving 745 standard petrol-fuelled passenger cars for one year.

Of course, knowing the number doesn’t magically do anything on its own. We need to put it to use somehow! 

Naked Sprout unbleached toilet rolls

What do we do with the Number?

Aside from general curiosity, there are two main reasons why a company would need to know its climate footprint. 

The first reason is for offsetting, purchasing what are called “carbon credits.” Offsetting is pitched as a way for environmentally conscious brands to pay off their climate debt by paying organisations to plant trees, or by supporting renewable energy projects, in the hope of zeroing the balance of their own climate footprint. 

This seemed like a promising prospect in the 2010s, but over the last 10 years climate science has developed and the picture is now clear; we’re not going to offset our way out of the climate crisis. Greenpeace refers to climate credits as a greenwashing “scam,” and research published in 2023 found 90% of the carbon offsets by the world’s largest certifier are worthless, and might actually make global warming worse. 

There are different approaches to offsetting, and of course programs that promote renewable energy, or protect or restore habitats are helpful in their own right. But to address the specific issue of the climate crisis we need to stop emissions getting into the atmosphere in the first place, not try to claw them back with offsetting. 

So we’re not offsetting at Naked Sprout. We calculate our climate footprint so that we can actually reduce it.

A railway container for freight

How Are We Reducing It? 

To find the best way forward, Naked Sprout is registered with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). This is a global partnership bringing together CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund.

They create models that show practical changes companies can make to reduce emissions, in line with the best climate science. Then they lend this understanding to companies like Naked Sprout, providing technical assistance that addresses all aspects of our operations, so we know the most effective ways to reduce our impact.

Naked Sprout has approved near and long-term science-based emissions reduction targets with the SBTi (you can find our entry if you search for us here!). We have a clear path -with targets that are assessed and validated, and guidance on the best way forward. 

We already have a significant head start over the way toilet rolls are normally made, because our factory in Spain dries its rolls using biofuels rather than natural gas, and meets all of its electricity needs with solar, wind, and hydro generators. 

But we’re not resting on our laurels. So far in 2024 we have moved to transporting our products by electrified railway on the leg of the journey from our factory in Spain to the English Channel, instead of travelling by road. We have also reduced the size of our boxes by reducing the size of our inner core, meaning we can now fit 60 boxes of our larger size boxes on a pallet instead of 42. Both of these measures mean we can deliver more products with less road miles. 

Measures like this will mean that next year our footprint will be a little lighter. 

Naked Sprout bamboo toilet rolls

Bringing It All Home

For us, calculating a climate footprint isn’t just an exercise in data collection, and it’s definitely not for offsetting. It’s the first step in making real changes to our impact. 

So, the next time you hear a company talking about its climate footprint, you’ll know exactly what they mean and what goes into those numbers. As far as we know there is just one other tissue company selling in the UK that’s published an annual footprint, we hope there will be more of us before long. Every step towards reducing the impact of everyday products moves us in the right direction. 

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