For many businesses, the impact your company’s travel has on the planet can be of some concern. We’re not just talking carbon emissions from the plane here, but anything from which hotel you stay in to what you eat, which can affect the environment. But, in following eight simple and easy steps, you can make your business travel greener and reduce your travelers’ carbon footprint at the same time.
- Get organised with your flights
It’s no secret that of all modes of transport, flying has the greatest impact on the environment. It’s a tricky problem though; we can’t simply stop flying. Sometimes nothing beats being at that meeting in person, while it just isn’t practical (or effective time management) to take the train to your conference in Sydney. But there are things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint if that flight cannot be avoided. Firstly, you can minimize the number of flights you take by combining trips together. Got to be in Bangkok before that Sydney meeting? Don’t fly back and forth – do the two together. Secondly, always take the most direct route you can, avoiding connections, as it’s the take-offs and landings that consume the most fuel. Packing light helps too, as lighter planes are more fuel efficient.
- Fly on fuel efficient aircraft
Supplement the above advice by booking your travelers on particularly fuel efficient aircraft. Good examples to choose include the A320 NEO, used by Virgin America, AirAsia, IndiGo, Lufthansa, Norwegian and American Airlines, which burns 15% less fuel than similar A320s. Meanwhile, the Airbus A3250 XWB, used by Emirates, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, is made of lightweight materials, saving on weight and increasing efficiency.
But the most efficient of all is the Airbus A380. Used by six airlines – Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Emirates, Lufthansa, Air France, Korean Air and China Southern – the A380 burns 20% less fuel thanks to efficient engines and use of lightweight materials.
- Use eco-friendly Airlines
When it comes to eco-friendliness, not all airlines are created equal. It’s not just about fuel efficiency either: some use greener designs, some have implemented waste reduction and recycling programs, some use food from sustainable sources and some offer carbon offsetting. Why not make these airlines your first choice?
Particularly eco-friendly options to consider are Virgin America, which uses fuel efficient aircraft and has a ‘Green Team’, who is continually searching for new ways to reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Meanwhile, United Airlines’ Eco-Skies program focuses on fuel efficiency, sustainable travel and alternative fuels, as well as working in partnership with various environmental charities.
Over in Europe, Air France deserves a special mention for its use of biofuels, recycling and carbon offsetting, while British Airways are working on cleaner-burning fuels and improvement of air quality by addressing take-off and landing procedures, as well as using electric vehicles on the ground at Heathrow’s Terminal 5.
- Offset your carbón
Carbon offsetting involves making a donation to environmental projects to balance out your company’s carbon footprint. Many carbon offsetting organizations have carbon emissions calculators on their websites, so you can work out exactly how much carbon will be emitted by your staff’s journeys and make a donation to reduce other carbon emissions in the world by the same amount. The money donated will go towards projects such as tree planting or investing in clean tech research.
Here at Corporate Traveller, we work with Susterra to offer carbon offsetting for our clients. This allows us to monitor our carbon use and the environmental impact of our own business travel, which we then offset. The money raised is invested in various projects such as building wind and solar farms. Other carbon offsetting schemes include carbonfootprint.com and The Carbon Neutral Company, which supports wind farms and the reforestation of the UK’s woodlands.
- Stay in sustainable hotels
Where your travelers stay on their business trips can have just as much of an impact as how they get there.
Many hotels, particularly the larger chains, have recycling and sustainability initiatives, and are taking steps to reduce their own carbon footprints. Examples include Hilton, who obtain 94% of their electricity from green sources, donate excess food to food banks and recycle unused soap, and Hyatt, who have partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to ensure all seafood in their restaurants is sustainability sourced.
Meanwhile, Marriott International have installed 275 electric vehicle charging stations at their hotels and invested in the preservation of the Amazon Rainforest, while their staff uniforms are made from recycled plastic bottles. Talking of rainforests, Four Seasons’ 10 Million Trees Initiative, which launched in 2011, aims to plant 10 million trees across 34 countries, with the goal of raising awareness of deforestation and tree conservation.
- Travel by train
Rather than hiring a fuel-guzzling car or taking a taxi, why not save on emissions and book a train for your travelers? Train networks are often reliable and efficient, especially in North America and mainland Europe, and are set up to allow easy access from the airport to the city centre. Likewise, underground systems are often much quicker, not to mention cheaper, than a taxi or private transfer. And in case you still need convincing: Virgin’s Pendolino trains, which connect London to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh, generate around a third less carbon per person per kilometre than a small car over the same distance.
- Hire a hybrid or electric car
Of course, trains will run anyway, whether you are on them or not, so it makes ecological sense to use them. However, if the train is a diesel train, in some cases, depending on distance and passenger numbers, it can be more eco-friendly to use a hybrid or electric car. Luckily, these are now available to hire from all the major rental companies, including Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hertz, Avis and Budget, which have added thousands of hybrids to their fleets to meet an increasing demand.
- Work with an environmentally-savy travel management Company
By choosing to work with an environmentally-aware travel management company such as Corporate Traveller, your dedicated travel consultant will offer tips on how to reduce the impact of your company’s travel and will use their expert knowledge to advise you on the most carbon neural options available. They’ll also calculate your carbon offsetting on your behalf, and add the more eco-friendly flight and hotel options to your travel policy, taking all the hassle of greener travel away from you.