The Road to Net Zero - Our Journey So Far

by Rejus, 30th January 2023
The Road to Net Zero - Our Journey So Far

So… sustainability? Carbon zero? Net zero?

When something is constantly discussed in the media for years and years, it’s hard to distance yourself from your initial mindset, the situation you were in then.

You might think “that’s great, but I need to earn money and finish this job now to feed my kids”. Ultimately, this is all about a mindset change made by taking small steps, improving our knowledge, and seeing the positive impact of our actions. Collectively, we need to embrace this now for two reasons.  Commercially it’s going to get increasingly expensive to do nothing, and ethically, it’s the right thing to do.

However, whenever I set time aside to research this issue, I became a little fuzzled about how to proceed, and how to make a real difference. I’ve written this only to share our experience. It may prompt action, questions, or neither. I just want to get it out there and add my thoughts to the discussion.

We are pretty good at energy efficiency for buildings, including our own, and we have put in the work to ensure we’re being environmentally conscious with our equipment, waste, purchasing and cleaning products. It’s a huge subject, and may seem initially difficult, but it does not need to be.

So, I don’t think I’m alone in wondering what exactly the biggest obstacle is? Maybe it’s finding the biggest decisions we can make to have the biggest impact we can see or is it understanding how to make improvements to some that has been the norm for so long, or is it simply our mindest?

At Rejus, one of our proudest achievements has been investing in a 34kw Solar Array on our Doncaster office for about 10 years. There was no pressure and no specific reason, it just seemed a sensible business decision at the time.  As a company we reduced our overall CO2 impact, a hugely important goal to us as business owners. The building we operate from is near carbon neutral thanks to ongoing investment and internal knowledge on building efficiency we’ve developed over the years.

Little did we know how valuable this would become...

We have now, through Business Doncaster, had a carbon footprint report done under the Decarbonisation Grant Scheme. This was an excellent piece of work by EMS Sheffield, which came with a plan and advice on further reducing waste and carbon emissions. Rejus will be at net zero through the further energy efficiency measures we are taking. Motivated by the impact of our solar panels, these have just been sensible low-cost actions. It’s been a worthwhile and rewarding journey.

Another obstacle to improving sustainability for a lot of companies is the carbon footprint of the businesses around them. Suppliers, partners, and distributers are invaluable to any business, but we of course can only have so much influence in how sustainable these sectors are, albeit we can make well informed purchasing decisions.

Rejus are a facilities management business working throughout the UK, and the use of vehicles is essential. We’ve learnt that reducing the CO2 in this area is its own obstacle. Rejus is very keen to embrace electric vehicles as a business, and this will become a lot easier when a reliable infrastructure is in place to reduce delivery risks. It also won’t be long now until the purchase prices of the vehicles are commercially viable, and I know we won’t be the only company eager to make the switch.

Carbon off-setting may be seen as dodging the main issue and not looking at the bigger picture, just as only measuring the CO2 for only Rejus would be. However, the best way forward is one step at a time. Though we need to review the true cost of importing batteries, vehicle parts, etc., from across the world and the ESG implications of this, it seems that the only way to reach zero is begin offsetting.

Once sourcing of the products to manufacture batteries and meeting our ESG responsibilities is resolved, and a reliable infrastructure is in place, then we can truly embrace the non-CO2 fuel vehicle opportunities.

I’ve had to ask myself; is paying for the planting of new woodlands, or eco projects around the world, the best solution for the here and now? This offsetting would allow us to run a carbon neutral business at low cost, but not necessarily deal with our own operations. Can it be argued to be ethically wrong? Would it be wrong to offset in the meantime while waiting for direct changes to be more viable? Well in this case, we’ve invested circa £50k so far over the years to reduce our impact, and we know to do nothing is definitely wrong, so we must act on those things we can improve.

The clock is ticking and doing nothing will improve nothing.

Net zero 2050 is happening, and costs will only rise, supply will diminish. So… the plan is to reduce our operational carbon footprint (its near zero now, and will be zero soon) as much as we sensibly and commercially can, until eco-friendly and sustainable vehicles become economically viable, and in the meantime to pay for new woodland here and abroad to be planted. It’s a subjective decision, far from ideal, but its real and tangible and will have a positive impact on our environment.

There’s still some work to do for Rejus (and then its supply chain) but the date for us being carbon neutral is nearly here. 

- Mathew Lynds, Director of Rejus Ltd.

Learn more about the facilities management services we provide here.

We pride ourselves in aiming to provide environmentally sustainable cleaning products. Learn more by following the link.

Part 2: WHAT NEXT FOR REJUS? - The logistics around sustainability and supplies