To B or not to B – The link between B Corp certification & becoming carbon neutral

April 6, 2022

What do the experts think...

If you’re in the business of doing ‘good’ then you’ve probably heard of the term B Corp and seen the infamous logo on some of your favourite positive impact businesses, like Who Gives a Crap, Patagonia and Aesop.

In fact, there are over 400 B Corps in Australia and more than 4,800 worldwide, with the program fast becoming one of the most highly regarded social and environmental impact assessment frameworks in the world.

But did you know that assessing your company’s carbon footprint can form a significant part of the process?

This is where Trace comes in - by measuring, offsetting and reducing their carbon emissions through our platform, Climate Positive businesses can gain access to the essential data required to complete their assessment, and extra points too!

What is B Corp?

B Corp certification was established in 2006 with the goal of establishing a framework to assess the social and environmental impact of all types of businesses, big and small.

This assessment framework provides a way of verifying those businesses that demonstrate a real commitment to balancing profits with their impact on people and the planet. Their ‘impact’ is assessed across five categories: Governance, Workers, Environment, Customers and Community.

“It’s a way to separate a good company from good marketing.” – Andy Fyfe, B Corp

Jargon Buster

  • Certified B Corp – company that has gone through the Business Impact Assessment process and been officially certified by B Lab to meet at least the minimum requirements (80 points). 
  • B Lab - nonprofit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet. B Lab certifies companies (called B Corps) who lead the way, and are focused on building a movement to change our economic system.
  • Business Impact Assessment (BIA) - A free digital tool developed by B Lab that can help measure, manage, and improve positive impact performance for the environment, communities, customers, suppliers, employees, and shareholders. Receiving a minimum verified score of 80 points on the assessment is also the first step towards B Corp Certification.
  • B Consultant - B Consultants can support your business' impact journey, whether you want to improve your social and environmental practices or certify as a B Corp. Consultants undertake an in-depth training program (conducted by B Lab) in order to gain the skills they need to help businesses along their B Corp certification journey. If you’d like to find one to help your business, check out the B Consultants Directory.

What's in the BIA? An infographic summarising the five key elements of the B Lab Business Impact Assessment
The B Lab Business Impact Assessment (BIA) is a free digital tool for assessing the impact of your business across five key areas; Environment, Governance, Workers, Community & Customers. (Image Credit: Trace)

How does becoming carbon neutral fit with B Corp certification?

The Environment section of the B Corp assessment asks companies to answer questions about how (or if) they measure, report, offset and manage their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Some of the questions include:

  • How does your company manage its greenhouse gas emissions for at least Scope 1 and 2?
  • What are your Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions (for Scopes 1, 2 and 3)?
  • What is your current Carbon Intensity (for Scopes 1, 2 and 3), measured in tonnes of CO2/ million dollars of revenue?
  • If your company purchased certified carbon credits in the reporting period, what % of Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions were offset?

To become carbon neutral, a business needs to measure its emissions (Scopes 1, 2 and 3) and purchase certified carbon credits to offset its emissions, and hence doing so allows them to answer the above questions.

How can I get points towards my B Corp certification by becoming carbon neutral?

Simply by measuring and offsetting your emissions, B Lab attributes your company a handful of points towards your assessment; the exact number of points can vary significantly depending on your business type and size (i.e. how emissions-intensive your business is).

However, it is more important to note that once you know your baseline emissions, you’ll be able to make subsequent decisions that can unlock many more points. This is how:

  1. By measuring your emissions (the first step of becoming carbon neutral), you are setting a baseline from which to improve and giving your company a data-driven framework from which you can identify the areas of greatest impact and potential, and
  2. When you take steps to reduce your emissions, this can contribute to an even more significant number of points towards your B Corp assessment (the majority of the points allocated to the Environment section), as B Lab incentivises companies that are dedicated to setting and meeting targets for continual improvement.

Do you need to be carbon neutral to become a B Corp?

You do not currently need to measure your emissions or be carbon neutral in order to become B Corp, however, B Consultant Kirsty Dare of Really Good says she encourages all of her clients to complete this section;

“B Corp is a framework for measuring a company’s impact. The focus of each company's impact will vary depending on the issues material to their business and industry. Part of our job is to help our clients figure out where they can have the greatest impact. However, we do encourage that all of our clients consider becoming carbon neutral, as the climate crisis is ultimately material for every company. If there is no planet, then there is no business for it to operate on. And from a risk standpoint, all companies should be starting to plan for net zero by 2030, so it’s also about future-proofing.”

The Environment section makes up a significant portion of the overall assessment and, as we will explain, many of the questions relate back to how a company measures and manages the factors that contribute to its carbon footprint. B Consultant Michelle Sutherland also notes that “...Although these questions are not mandatory [they] are challenging and questioning you in a good way - to prompt you to think differently, to understand more about your business's impact on the environment and to actually take action to change if you need to.”

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How does joining Trace support your B Corp application?

The most obvious benefit of joining Trace, as it relates to your B Corp assessment, is becoming carbon neutral and setting a baseline for emissions reduction. However, there are also many other ways joining our community can support your assessment process.

1. Efficiency in data collection

The most time-consuming element of both the B Corp assessment and Trace carbon footprint assessment is the collection of relevant data about your business operations. This includes how much waste you produce, how much and what type of energy you use and your team’s travel activity. The good news is that most of the questions asked in the Trace data collection process, require the same inputs as those asked in the B Corp assessment process. This means that once you’ve gone through the process of becoming a Climate Positive business with Trace, you’ll not only be carbon neutral but also have done most of the heavy lifting for the Environment section of your B Corp Impact Assessment! Even better is that if you’re not sure how to answer certain questions, or aren’t confident your answers are accurate, we can also provide you with helpful benchmarks to help sense-check your data.

2. The same holistic approach

The greatest strength of the B Corp certification process is that it considers a company’s impact holistically, which includes representing the interconnected nature of business practices on people, the community and the environment. 

At Trace, we also want to guide businesses on their journey to net-zero considering not just the data behind a company’s carbon footprint, but around the business enablement required to make positive change. If a business wants to reduce their emissions as fast as possible, whilst maintaining the sustainability of their service or product offering, they need to meaningfully engage staff and collaborate with community and customers. This is why we offer our customers employee engagement tools, tips on engaging with suppliers, and guidance on communicating their net-zero journey to the public. 

In fact, the B Assessment explicitly asks questions about how a business is engaging with its employees on areas of positive impact. 

For example, one question is “How does your company encourage good environmental stewardship in how employees manage their virtual offices?”. By demonstrating your business has written policies encouraging environmentally friendly practices, recommends environmentally-preferred suppliers or shares resources with employees on how they can be more climate-conscious at home (e.g. tips to improve energy efficiency), you can gain recognition and points toward your assessment. Trace supports businesses to do all of these actions and offers an Employee Quiz, that involves staff calculating their carbon footprint, educating them around emissions creation and then collating the results into insights that drive collective climate action.

“The reality is employees care about their impact and employers really need to facilitate and coordinate this change in the workforce landscape. As a former Employee Engagement Manager, I can clearly see the connection between Trace's offering of sending out an employee survey to gather their employees' impact at home and then collectively using this data to drive positive change.” - Michelle Sutherland, B Consultant

3. Female-founded supplier

Companies applying to become B Corps are asked about their approach to ensuring diversity in their supply chain, and what percentage of their supply chain purchases are made from companies that are majority-owned by women or underrepresented groups. Trace is a female-founded and majority-owned company - meaning additional points may be awarded for you choosing us as your preferred partner!

Trace Customer Case Studies

Many current Trace customers are B Corp certified or are in the process of achieving their certification, so we reached out to them to find out how joining Trace has helped support their B Corp journey.

Logo for Linktree

LinktreeAustralian social media-tech company

Linktree are currently applying for B Corp certification and started investigating ways to measure, reduce and offset their emissions during the early stages of this process. 

“We found Trace whilst comparing multiple different options for becoming carbon neutral, as part of our B Corp application. We found Trace to be a super cost-effective and streamlined process that allowed us to become carbon neutral within weeks (not months) so that we could get on with the job of finding ways to reduce our environmental impact” – George Turnbull, Senior Strategy & Operations Manager

Logo for Benedictus Media

Benedictus MediaSydney-based media agency

Founder of Benedictus Media, Phil Benedictus, has a particular passion for climate action and hence has always had the environmental impact of his business at the forefront of decision making and the everyday of operations. This includes helping their clients understand the emissions related to their media buying – an oft-neglected contributor to a company’s carbon footprint. Benedictus Media have been a B Corp since 2016 and in 2019 joined the B Corp Net Zero 2030 pledge, which requires signatories to commit to achieving net zero by 2030, and demonstrating progress towards their goal with annual updates. 

The agency joined Trace as their first step to externally measuring their entire company’s emissions, offsetting to become carbon neutral, and establishing a baseline for their net zero strategy.

“While we’ve always been passionate about climate action as a business, this was the first time we measured the overall emissions of our business so joining Trace represented the true beginning of our journey to net zero. We now have a really clear baseline to start planning how we will reduce our unavoidable emissions before the end of the decade” – Phil Benedictus, Founder

Logo for Katapult

Katapult - Industrial design company based in Byron Bay, NSW

As a product design company, creating “new stuff” is a core part of Katapult’s offering, and when it comes to sustainability, this is something the team wrestles with every day as climate-conscious people. And it’s not just their team that’s concerned about their impact - it’s their customers too, who are more frequently asking questions about how to design their products more sustainably. With this in mind, Katapult are committed to working with their clients to find design solutions that are good for the planet, be that through making a product easier to dispose of at the end of it’s useful life, or designing in a way that requires less raw materials for production in the first place. To show that they ‘walk the talk’ Katapult is working with B Consultant, Michelle Sutherland (Definitii) to progress their BIA, and becoming carbon neutral with Trace was an obvious first step on their journey to achieving this goal.

“By measuring our emissions and collating all the necessary data for the Trace team to complete their carbon footprint assessment, we were essentially also collating most of the data required for the Environment section of our Impact Assessment. Plus, we can now confidently say we’re carbon neutral and have a framework for how we will reduce our emissions – all of which contribute to several points towards our B Corp certification.” - Nathan Pollock, Director 

Logos of Owners Collective and Simple Chic Women

Owners Collective & Simple Chic Women

The rigour of the B Corp certification process inherently means it can require a significant (yet rewarding) investment of time from a business, which can be particularly challenging for smaller businesses with more limited resources. Owners Collective & Simple Chic Women are run by two highly passionate female founders Pru Chapman and Mira Mikosic, who were determined to achieve B Corp certification but needed to find a way to make the process as efficient as possible. Simple Chic Women is underway completion and Owners Collective has just achieved certification. They both brought on Enviro Management & Sustainability Consultant, Alicia Corsar, who guides them throughout the whole process end to end. Alicia recommended partnering with Trace because she knew that Trace would externally verify and streamline their environmental management planning, which ultimately provides them with specific B Corp Certification points needed in the Environmental Audit Section.  

“Before Trace, there was definitely a huge gap in the market for tools to help SMEs assess their environmental impact. Small businesses don’t have time to go through the whole end-to-end process on their own. Partnering with Trace is perfect because it doesn’t use complex jargon and makes the whole process really easy for my clients. The incremental points we were able to get from joining Trace were super valuable and the two processes went hand in hand.” – Enviro Management & Sustainability Consultant, Alicia Corsar

We’d like to say a huge thank you to the B Corp experts we spoke with in preparation for writing this article. If you’re looking for someone to help your business start the process of becoming B Corp certified, you can get in touch with them below.

Headshot of Kirsty Dare

Kirsty Dare - Really Good Consulting

Headshot of Michelle Sutherland

Michelle Sutherland - Definitii

Headshot of Alicia Corsar

Alicia Corsar - Freelancer

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