Neal's Yard Remedies on Reducing GHG emissions

Does your business take steps to mitigate its impact on climate change?


Our approach to carbon management

We manage our impact on climate change with the help of Forum for the Future's carbon management hierarchy: avoid, reduce, replace, offset.

AVOID emitting carbon in the first place

Peacemarsh, our larch-clad eco-factory in Dorset, UK, where we develop and manufacture the majority of our products, was purpose-built for us and designed to minimise energy use. Scandinavian high spec glass windows and doors help minimise heat loss whilst maximising natural light, a high level vent system helps regulate temperature (there’s no air-con – just good old-fashioned opening windows and doors), and our concrete floor acts as a heat sink to help keep temperature constant.

REDUCE greenhouse gas emissions

We measure our carbon footprint annually as part of our CarbonNeutral® assessment (there is further detail on our commitment to carbon neutrality below). In 2014, our current footprint was 1,221 tonnes, a 4% decrease from 2013.  Our main impacts are:

• Electricity consumption, including third party electricity consumption and transmission and distribution losses, which is responsible for the majority of emissions with 706 tonnes of CO2e, 58% of the total.

• Commuting by car accounts for the second largest amount of emissions with 212 tonnes of CO2e, 17% of the total.

Overall emissions have decreased by 54 tonnes of CO2e, or 4,2%, from 1,275 tonnes of CO2e during the 2013 assessment period to 1,221 tonnes of CO2e during the 2014 assessment period.

We also know from industry carbon footprinting that our likely main impacts across our whole value chain will be from agriculture in our supply chain (eg energy used to grow the herbs that go into our natural remedies), and customer use of our products so we are building projects to address these impacts that are less under our direct control but a major part of our carbon story.

Regarding agriculture in our supply chains we are proud to be an organic health and beauty company. According to the Rodale Institute, organic farming systems use, on average 45% less energy and are more efficient. Conventional systems produce 40% more greenhouse gases. 

To help us reduce our electricity consumption we are currently undertaking our first Energy Saver Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) audit to identify energy reduction opportunities at our eco factory and in our stores. This is a legal requirement in the UK for companies with over 250 employees.  We look forward to reporting progress on the results of the audit here in 2016.

To help reduce our emissions from commuting by car we have introduced the Cycle to Work scheme at our eco factory in Peacemarsh, and promoted the scheme with a Smoothie making bike machine at our 2015 summer BBQ!  Here it is in action.

Our energy reduction efforts span our whole business. For example, back in 2012 we reduced the weight of our 200g blue glass jar by 36%, helping us save carbon from transport. Our 30ml bottle is 15 % lighter than its predecessor.   

REPLACE fossil fuels with renewables

At Peacemarsh we generate 7% of our own electricity from 200m2 of solar panels on our south facing roof.  Our Ecofactory is currently being expanded, as part of which we are doubling our solar panel area to increase on-site generation (due for completion end 2015).  The rest of our electricity supply is on a 100% renewable energy tariff. Our London offices and all UK company stores where we have control of energy (excluding shopping malls and some of our franchises) are also powered by 100% renewable energy tariffs. This was 29 out of 34 stores in 2014. As we establish new stores we begin the switch to a green energy supplier as soon as we sign the lease. 

OFFSET unavoidable emissions

In 2008, we became the first high street retailer in the UK to be awarded the CarbonNeutral® certification, reducing our carbon footprint to net zero (further information below). From 2012 we were also awarded the very first World Land Trust certificate for using Carbon Balanced Paper in our Christmas gift boxes, now all our gift boxes are certified.  We worked with our carton supplier Curtis Packaging and the most energy efficient board mill in Europe to deliver 9,700 cubic meters of CO2 saving that has secured 815 square metres of rainforest, forever.

Find out more >

Target setting

We use the Carbon Management hierarchy above to set carbon related targets and ongoing improvements. Our current target is to become Carbon Positive in the next few years.  We will achieve this through our annual Carbon Neutral certification and additional offsetting projects.  We aspire to be a Net Positive business and are taking advice from sustainability experts at Forum for the Future who are one of the organisations leading this discussion.

One ongoing challenge for us as a business is that our international markets are growing significantly, so global distribution from our Eco Factory in Dorset, UK, (and so, our absolute carbon footprint) is increasing rapidly. As we grow, we intend to grow responsibly. 

Our commitment to CarbonNeutral®

CarbonNeutral® certification, from The CarbonNeutral Company, is the global standard for businesses, products or services that have measured, reduced and offset their carbon emissions to net zero, set out in accordance with the rules and regulations of The CarbonNeutral Protocol.

To maintain our independently verified CarbonNeutral® accreditation, we go through a rigorous annual process measuring CO2 emissions of our business including relevant scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions: commuting and business travel (both national and international journeys) for all UK staff, waste from retail, factory and distribution, UK distribution transport and energy use for all our UK premises.

For the period 2013/2014, we have purchased carbon credits from The CarbonNeutral Company supporting two specific projects: The Improved Cookstove Project in Southern India and the Makira Forest Protection Project in Madagascar, which are profiled below. We have chosen these projects as they reflect our goals of improving health and well-being (cookstoves) and protecting biodiversity (Makira).

Improved Cookstove Project, Southern India

This project helps reduce health risks from smoke pollution in the home and lower fuel costs for families across Southern India by subsidising fuel-efficient biomass stoves.

The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 estimates that exposure to smoke from the simple act of cooking is the fourth worst risk factor for disease in developing countries.

Find out more   

Makira Forest Protection Project, Madagascar

Helping to protect one of the world’s top five biodiversity hotspots by limiting deforestation and working with communities to support low-impact farming practices.  Our Director of Natural Health, Susan Curtis, visited the project in early 2015 and saw first hand the difference the project is making to the local community: through the project they have been learning about sustainable farming, setting up fish farms and creating an eco-lodge for tourists to provide income and give them the means to support themselves while protecting their precious environment.  You can see pictures from her visit on our facebook page here.

We source a number of our fairly traded organic essential oils from northern Madagascar so we’re keen to help protect the region’s natural wealth of biodiversity.

Find out more   

Mitigating climate change impacts in our supply chain

During 2013 we ran a series of workshops to develop our sustainability strategy and looked at global trends and how they impact our business.  We quickly realised during this process that climate change was already having a material impact on our supply chain - in particular the quality, price and availability of our key raw materials - plants and essential oils. 

As we visit our suppliers around the world, we've come across some really inspiring stories from farmers taking steps to protect their crops from climate change related impacts. For example, our tea tree essential oil producers in Nanyuki, Kenya, survived a drought that devastated their region in 2008 by building a series of small ponds to help conserve water. Some of the farmers also use the ponds for fish: extra protein for the family and a secondary source of income too! 

We’re busy visiting and talking to more of our suppliers to find out what their challenges are and how we can support them.

Lobbying and raising consumer awareness

We also support climate change campaigns, such as Greenpeace's I ♥ Arctic campaign. Back in 2013 we helped to raise the profile of the campaign with our customers - with a social media campaign, point of sale promotions and even a visit to our Covent Garden flagship store from Paula the Polar Bear! We were delighted at this week's news (Sept 2015) that Shell have announced an end to drilling in the Alaskan arctic for the foreseeable future - victory for the campaign! We are planning other ways to engage our customers on energy use in the home and switching to renewable energy.

Answered at 04:33PM on 06 Tuesday Oct 2015

Climate change threatens the basic necessities of human life all around the world - access to water, food production, health, land, biodiversity, peace and stability. Climate change is an unprecedented issue, unique to our civilisation, and action is needed to prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system.

Anthropogenic climate change is mostly caused by the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has identified six key GHGs which contribute to climate change. While carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the most common GHGs, all GHG emissions have impacts of varying intensities and timescales on climate change. Some GHGs trap heat in the atmosphere and the oceans for over a hundred years, while some do so for much shorter periods of times but with far greater magnitude. Methane (CH4), from leaked gas or livestock for example is such a gas.

Feedback loops, which could accelerate climate change, add further urgency for action in order to prevent pushing the climate system beyond irreversible tipping points. Scientists fear that, as temperatures increase, huge stores of GHGs could be released into the atmosphere accelerating further warming.

GHG emissions from businesses are generally classified in three different ‘scopes’, Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

  • Scope 1 emissions refer to direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by an organisation. Examples include: company owned vehicles, chemical reactions and boilers
  • Scope 2 emissions refer to indirect emissions from electricity, heat or steam purchased by an organisation. Examples include: electricity purchased by the factories or the offices of an organisation
  • Scope 3 emissions refer to all other indirect emission which are a consequence of business’ activities but are not directly controlled or owned by the business. These can be further classified as upstream or downstream:
    • ‘Upstream emissions’ are linked to the supply chain of a business. Examples include: extraction and production of purchased materials, outsourced waste treatment and other modes of employee travel
    • ‘Downstream emissions’ are linked to life of the products or services. Examples include: investments, energy use associated with products and the end of life-treatment of products.

Some businesses are not only reducing their GHG emissions to limit further climate change, they are also working to adapt to changes that have already occurred and will continue to occur. ‘Climate-smart agriculture’ is one example, where businesses may work with farmers and policymakers to strengthen irrigation systems so that the agricultural produce or livestock are better protected against droughts or floods. Such adaptions seen across various sectors and industries suggest that integrating climate change thinking may help identify associated opportunities and risks.

The UK Government states that the costs of not acting on climate change far outweigh the costs of early action. A key step almost any business can take is to monitor and evaluate its energy use, which for many businesses is the leading source of GHGs. The modern economy is primarily based on fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil), and reducing the use of these ever more costly and limited resources through energy efficiency measures can only benefit a business. Examples of energy efficiency and further steps may include:

  • Setting annual targets for reductions in energy use
  • Improving insulation in buildings used by the business
  • Implementing smart meters for comprehensive energy monitoring
  • Implementing energy efficient lighting
  • Sourcing renewable energy
  • Producing renewable energy on-site, with solar panels for example
  • Promoting behaviour changes within the organisation
  • Appointing someone in the business for energy management.

Further, some businesses may be subject to mandatory emissions reporting (e.g. in the UK all quoted companies are required to measure and report GHGs), and some businesses may report their emissions strategies voluntarily through initiatives like the CDP. The CDP (initially the Carbon Disclosure Project) invites businesses to consider their impact on climate change through its detailed questionnaire. Beyond energy efficiency, additional issues on which it invites disclosure include:

  • Ensuring responsibility for climate change impacts and risks are delegated at a high level within the organisation
  • Ensuring there are appropriate incentives for managing climate change issues
  • Engaging in activities that have a positive influence on public policy for climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Funding research and innovation, internally or externally, on climate change issues
  • Establishing absolute and/or intensity emissions and regularly evaluate and report on progress
  • Assessing how third parties may directly or indirectly reduce GHG emissions through the use of the organisation’s goods and services
  • Engaging with various of the elements of the organisations value chain on GHG emissions and climate change strategies.

A comprehensive strategy to mitigate impacts on climate change forms a key part of an organisation’s ability to manage their environmental impact. There is no set way to mitigate an organisation’s impact on climate change and many innovative solutions continue to emerge from individual businesses, industry groups and others. Nonetheless, a company does not have to be expert or innovative to follow good practice. A company that considers sound environmental stewardship and reducing its footprint across its operations as good business practice will likely be able to cite numerous steps it takes – for example cutting down on its use of raw materials, reducing its use of transportation and considering end of life treatment – to mitigate its impact on climate change. By disclosing such steps, benefits include learning from each other, inspiring innovation and improving the business impact on the environment.

Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)

'Greenhouse gases' (GHGs) are gases in the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic (human induced), that absorb and emit radiation at certain wavelengths resulting in atmospheric warming known as the greenhouse effect.

The six key GHGs as identified by the UNFCCC are CO2 (Carbon dioxide), CH4 (Methane), N2O (Nitrous oxide), PFCs (Perfluorocarbons), HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons) and SF6 (Sulphur hexafluoride). Other GHGs as identified by the UNFCCC are SO2 (Sulfur Dioxide), NOx (Nitric Oxide), CO (Carbon Monoxide) and NMVOC (Non-methane volatile organic compounds).

Answering YES

All Businesses MUST

State the organisation’s key sources of GHG emissions

State which methodology or standard, such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, has been used to calculate and/or verify emissions

State if it manages Scope 1, 2 and/or 3 GHG emissions

Describe the practices or policies in place to reduce GHG emissions

Explain how performance is monitored and evaluated

All Businesses MAY

State which level of company governance is responsible for climate change

State if it sets targets for reducing emissions, and say if these are absolute or intensity targets

Indicate where they publish their emissions data, reduction targets, practices and policies and other relevant information, and provide hyperlinks if available

Describe any activities that attempt to influence public policy on climate change

Explain how they engage with partners or suppliers on climate change issues

Explain how climate change risks on the business are evaluated and addressed

Provide examples of other climate mitigation and adaptation strategies

Answering NO

All Businesses MUST

Explain why they do not or cannot take steps to mitigate their impact on climate change and list the business reasons, any mitigating circumstance or any other reasons that apply

All Businesses MAY

List any practices that are relevant, but not sufficient to answer YES

Mention any future intentions regarding climate change actions

DON'T KNOW is not a permissible answer to this question

NOT APPLICABLE is not a permissible answer to this question

Version 1

To receive a score of 'Excellent'

Tackling climate change is strategic to the organisation

Examples of policy and practice which may support the EXCELLENT statement:

  1. Clear targets are set according to recognised methodologies (may include scope 3)
  2. Actions measured and monitored
  3. Staff and other stakeholders and/or value chain highly engaged
  4. Sources only renewable energy, where available
  5. Renewable energy produced on-site
  6. Strong track record in practical ways of reducing emissions
  7. Cited as an exemplar in its sector
  8. Clear efforts are taken to offset any remaining GHG emissions
  9. Assesses climate risks at high-level management positions
  10. Publishes reports on climate action, inviting stakeholder feedback
  11. Constantly looking for ways to go beyond expectations
  12. Constantly looking for ways to reduce raw material use
To receive a score of 'Good'

The business has established clear practices for reducing its impact on climate

Examples of policy and practice which may support the GOOD statement:

  1. Undertaken audit (or similar) and set clear targets
  2. Actions measured and monitored
  3. Goes beyond any legal minimum for GHG reductions
  4. Staff and/or value chain engaged
  5. Has demonstrably achieved a great deal
  6. Sources renewable energy
  7. Has identified various climate risks
  8. Supports constructive public policy dialogue
  9. Evident it takes efforts to reduce raw material use
To receive a score of 'Okay'

The business is aware of climate change and actively aims to reduce or measurement is impractical

Examples of policy and practice which may support the OKAY statement:

  1. Identifies its climate impacts but has little influence and/or resources
  2. Developed easy ways to implement reduction across the business
  3. Has diversity of approaches
  4. Complies with minimum legal requirements and offsets its carbon footprint
  5. Explains why measurement is impractical
To receive a score of 'Poor'

The business is aware of climate change but does not really push its people to pursue policies

Examples of policy and practice which may support the POOR statement:

  1. Statement of future intent
  2. Does not apparently implement policies or measure or monitor
  3. Will only comply with minimum legal requirements

Join the conversation

Log in or join to leave a comment.