We’ve already told you why sustainable business travel is crucial to your organisation and the reasons why you need to implement changes that will reflect your commitment to actively reducing your environmental impact.
Bar the growing pressures to meet a tacit industry standard for going green - it’s no coincidence that most listed companies discuss their carbon footprint in their annual reports, concern for the environment is still an important issue for everyone.
In short, all organisations are expected to take a socially responsible approach to the environment and travel managers are imperative to making this happen, even more so than most their executive counterparts, considering the travel industry is notorious for its huge contribution towards carbon emissions.
To see how we helped one client dramatically reduce their carbon footprint through minor changes to their travel program, click here.
In the meantime, we thought we’d share eight steps to effectively reduce an otherwise heavy carbon footprint.
- Travel only when you need to. Avoid unnecessary trips by using technology as an alternative, especially for collaboration with colleagues.
- Make travellers aware of their environmental impact. Travel is a major source of emissions and travellers should understand the impact of their actions and travel patterns.
- Choose the “greenest” travel option. Using a bus or train from the airport has a far smaller carbon footprint than scores of taxis or hire cars.
- Some airlines are more transparent than others in disclosing their emissions. If the environment matters to your organisation, choose a carrier that shares your values – and can prove it.
- Consider buying carbon offsets. Most airlines offer the ability to purchase offsets at the time of booking, while there are also independent agencies like Carbon Neutral, that you can partner with to provide carbon offsets.
- Select routes that require less fuel. Direct flights generally use less fuel than the total used in a bunch of shorter connections – and they’re often more convenient for travellers as well.
- Encourage your travellers to pack lightly. Lighter planes burn less fuel – and your travellers have the added benefit of lugging less weight around with them as they carry their bags around.
- Choose accommodation providers which are actively limiting their emissions. Many properties also inform guests about what they can do to help minimise the environmental impact of their visit – often without any inconvenience or effort.
Creating a sustainable travel policy
Sustainable travel can’t occur in isolation. It needs to be reinforced by the broader philosophies and practices of the organisation. You can’t expect travellers to consider the environmental impact of their trips if the office lights are on 24/7, the air-conditioning is always running full-bore and there are no recycling bins in sight.
If you’re committed to sustainability, and there is a culture to support it, the measures listed above need to be integrated into your travel policy.
If your staff are already committed to the goals of sustainability, you’ll have some valuable allies in your efforts towards policy compliance. However, you can’t always rely on travellers to do the right thing, especially when some of the measures may involve using costlier supply options. Instead, the measures need to be built into the booking and approval process so that travellers are encouraged (or forced, if you’re a mandating organisation) to do the right thing every time.
Your sustainability program also requires the involvement of your suppliers, so ensure that your “green” options are raised in vendor negotiations and embedded in your contracts. If you’re buying carbon credits, that needs to happen automatically at the point of sale and your suppliers need to make that happen.
A key component of a sustainable travel program is the support of a TMC that shares your commitment. It’s hard enough winning over all the internal stakeholders, so you want the assurance that your travel manager is committed to the same goals and has the understanding and resources to make it happen.
Sustainability is not a fad – it will remain a hot issue for business as long as the environment is under threat from emissions and while organisations are held accountable by their stakeholders. It therefore makes sense to align your travel policy and procedures with your company’s social responsibility efforts – and to choose travel partners who not only share your values, but are able to assist in achieving your objectives.
To find out how you can benefit from QBT’s commitment to sustainability, click here.