Reducing your carbon footprint is one of the more straight-forward goals that you can work towards to achieve a more sustainable business practice.
A reliable way to validate your efforts in reducing carbon emissions and prove to customers that you care is to get certified with a 3rd party organisation, like CarbonNeutral by Natural Capital Partners.
The CarbonNeutral Certification, on top of being a great way to earn customer trust, is also a partner of Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly program. Meaning that, if you sell products on Amazon, it can provide you an additional competitive advantage.
This article will examine the details on how to receive the certification so you can decide if it’s a good fit for you and your business.
Before we dive into the details let’s take a look at the history of CarbonNeutral. It’s important to know whether you can trust the quality of the certification and, if you’re going to invest time and money, that it will be around and valuable for decades to come.
About the CarbonNeutral by Natural Capital Partners Certification
CarbonNeutral by Natural Capital Partners with headquarters in the UK is a globally recognised standard that provides businesses with a set of requirements for achieving and demonstrating carbon neutrality that is practical, internationally accepted and scientifically informed. Early adopters of carbon neutrality have been using such standards to provide a framework for their programs and to give their claims of zero carbon status credibility and transparency.
The CarbonNeutral certification was launched in 2002 and is being reviewed every year to comply with the latest standards. The goal is to achieve net zero emissions for the part of the business you want to get certified. Current emissions are measured and reduced via internal changes as well as carbon offset projects or renewable energy certificates.
Natural Capital Partners started more than 20 years ago as one of the pioneers of emission offsetting by planting trees. They evolved into a well-established consulting company helping clients all over the world to reduce their carbon footprint. For 9 years in a row, they have been recognised as the Best Offset Retailer.
Among their more than 300 clients you will find industry leaders like Microsoft, UPS, Marks & Spencer and PwC.
Natural Capital Partners has recently merged with Climate Care, another well respected organisation in the carbon offset market, forming a world-leading solutions provider for companies and organisations looking to meet ambitious climate goals. The combined group has been responsible for the reduction of more than 100 million tonnes of CO2.
In April 2021 Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly program selected the CarbonNeutral product certification, allowing certified brands to receive the green, climate pledge friendly badge that comes with several benefits.
How the CarbonNeutral Certification Process Works in Detail
The process to receive the CarbonNeutral certificate follows 5 essential steps: Define, Measure, Target, Reduce & Communicate. Natural Capital Partners will help with each step to make the process as easy and streamlined for you as possible.
Step 1 – Define
The first step of the CarbonNeutral certification process defines which part of your business you are going to get certified. Certifications are available for entities, products & services (see table 1).
If you sell on Amazon and want to receive the Climate Pledge Friendly badge you should focus on the program approved product certification. It measures all the emissions created in a product’s manufacturing process.
Step 2 – Measure
Once you have defined the scope of where to focus your emission reduction activities Natural Capital Partners and their 3rd party partners will assist you in measuring your current amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
For the Amazon relevant product certification, you can find a quick overview of the considered emission sources in table 2.
For a broad scope of your carbon footprint – Natural Capital Partners generally estimates a carbon footprint of 5 to 10 tonnes of CO2 per company employee per year. That equals total offsetting cost of about £27.50 – £175 per employee per year.
Step 3 – Target
After determining your current amount of emissions, you commit to the target of reducing them to net zero for the duration defined within the certification frame (see graph 1). By adopting internal emission reduction measures the company’s emissions are expected to continually decrease by a certain percentage (light blue arrow). The remainder to achieving the goal of zero percent (green arrow) will then be offset by purchasing carbon credits.
Step 4 – Reduce
Most companies will achieve carbon neutrality via a mix of internal emission reduction measures and external measures including carbon offsetting and using renewable energy certificates.
Internal reduction measures may include making changes to the production process, packaging materials or sourcing locations. Easy to apply measures include using renewable energy, reducing business travel or going paperless in your office.
Since achieving carbon neutrality solely by internal reduction measures might be impossible in the short run there are two alternative ways to offset the remainder – renewable energy certificates (see table 7 for a list of approved standards) and contributing to carbon offset projects. The required fee to get certified will already include a certain amount of offset certificates (check out the next section for details).
Natural Capital Partners works with a variety of global carbon offset projects you can choose from (see graphic below). We recommend you to choose a project within your budget that fits your brand values best.
Step 5 – Communicate
“Do good and speak about it”. Once you have received your CarbonNeutral certification, Natural Capital Partners will help you with the communication of your efforts. This may include marketing materials and guidance on label integration onto websites or packaging. They will also assist you to get with your certification recognised by Amazon to receive the Climate Pledge Friendly badge.
The CarbonNeutral certification is valid for one year and will receive a yearly review.
Better World Products’ Certification Framework applied to CarbonNeutral by Natural Capital Partners
In this article we outlined why it’s so important to put effort into selecting the right sustainability certification. We have developed a framework to help you compare existing certifications and choose the right one:
Here is how we applied Better World Products’ certification framework to the CarbonNeutral certification:
Fees & Involvement
Natural Capital Partners’ fee starts at £5,000 / certification year. It includes an assessment cost of £2,500, a certification fee as well as carbon credits for 150 – 450 tonnes CO2 for a carbon offset project of your choice (specific amount depends on project selection).
To place these numbers into context – shipping 1 tonne of product across the US via truck (Boston to San Francisco) equals about 0.5 tonne of CO2 emissions. The carbon credits included in your fee would then offset 294 to 1,111 shipments / year (offset cost depend on project selection; £5.50 – £17.50 / tonne).
The certification process takes about 4 – 12 weeks, depending on the availability of your data. Gathering the necessary data for the process is estimated to take you about 2-4 weeks.
The certification is valid for one year. Renewals (including costs) take place annually.
Certification Popularity & Trend
Natural Capital Partners currently serves 300 clients in 34 countries, including popular consumer products like Microsoft’s Xbox.
The number of CarbonNeutral certified products on Amazon US is 311 (of 350 million products; June 2021). Certified products are from number of different industries like electronics, consumables, etc.
Carbon certifications are still fairly new, but their popularity is expected to increase in the future. Carbon neutrality is increasingly seen as a valid corporate/state social responsibility. A growing list of corporations, cities and states are announcing dates for when they intend to become fully neutral with most of them targeting 2050. Amazon itself plans to reach net zero carbon by 2040.
You can certify an entity, product/service or activity – but only the product certification is relevant for Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly program.
Carbon neutrality certifications focus on decreasing the footprint a brand and its products have on the environment. They signal a holistic approach to more sustainable business practices and represent the latest ‘standard’ of certifications.
A carbon neutral certification may help build trust among your customers and business partners. Additionally it provides a competitive advantage against non-certified brands. You can show you care about your impact on this world and are not only solely focused on profits.
Target Audience Fit
Carbon neutrality is a popular topic and therefore well known among most demographics. As with most sustainability aspects, they usually apply more to higher educated, higher income groups. Especially younger audiences like millennials have been found to care about sustainability since it concerns their own future.
Natural Capital Partners’ headquarter location in the UK may have an influence on the certification being more popular in the British market.
Natural Capital Partners and the CarbonNeutral certification were both founded in 2002, therefore the certification age is 19 years.
Fit to Current State of Product
Carbon certifications fit any current state of product. Even if your product currently has a high carbon footprint you may get certified immediately by starting out with a higher offset share.
The CarbonNeutral by Natural Capital Partners certification is a great option to validate your carbon reduction activities and receive Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly badge.
In this article we have explored
- What is the CarbonNeutral certification, who is behind it and what are the details?
- How does the certification process work in detail?
- Is the certification the right one for my company and products?
Hopefully this article brings you one step closer to choosing the right sustainability certification. If you have further questions about the CarbonNeutral certification, you can contact their very responsive team HERE.
Are you wondering if you make the most out of your Amazon sales? Feel free to reach out to us HERE.