Welcome to EP48 - Sustainable Ecommerce Podcast
Over the past few months I’ve been chatting with brands not just here in Australia & NZ but also in the US and UK, and it’s been really interesting to contrast the focus point for sustainability between the hemispheres. Just purely from my own observations, the attention down under is a lot more on waste reduction and the plastics problem, whereas in the northern hemisphere and the UK in particular, it’s on the pathway to Net Zero.
Now, we’ve already covered carbon neutrality a little bit on the show. I did a kind of carbon offsets for dummies guide all the way back in Episode 7, and then we had an actual expert, Richie Mulder from Carbon Halo come on in Episode 36, who explained in much more detail how to get to Carbon Neutral.
But seeing this significantly elevated focus on Net Zero from UK brands has left me feeling a little bit like we might be dropping the ball down here. When I asked a few eCommerce brands why they hadn’t done more to tackle their carbon footprint, the answer was some flavour of “It sounds really complicated and I don’t know where to start”. Knowing the theory is a far cry from actually getting going.
So is there in fact, and easy way to gets started. I went on a bit of hunt, and I think my guest today actually has a solution. Afonso Firmo is one of the Co-Founders of NetNada, and Australian startup designed to make the complex world of carbon accounting dead simple.
So, without stealing any thunder from Afonso, if baselining your footprint and getting your brand onto the pathway to carbon neutrality and maybe even Net Zero is something that’s been on to do list, this is the Episode that’s going to give you the keys to doing that.
About Afonso Firmo
Afonso came to Australia to study engineering and worked on carbon accounting projects at university.
Prior to starting NetNada he started up several other businesses, including a Sustainable Brand (Little Pepino, with past podcast guest Lottie Dalziel).
While doing that, Afonso learned that ecommerce brands and businesses in general needed a lot of help to understand and reduce their carbon footprint. So leveraging his software engineering skills, his objective was to see if software could be used as a tool to provide insights on carbon footprint, and help make the process of measuring and reducing footprint easier for business.
What is Carbon Accounting for Ecommerce?
Carbon accounting is simply assessing where your carbon spend is in your business. NetNada does this by looking at your financial accounts, and calculating your spend on different carbon-producing activities, like electricity, travel, procurement and so on. The ‘follow the money’ approach leads to a quick way to get a fast map of your carbon footprint.
Are there agreed standards around terms like Carbon Neutral?
When it comes to customer engagement you need to be able to communicate what your brand is doing. Currently there is no single standardised way to measure sustainability.
You can get carbon neutral certification without actually making any changes. For these reasons it’s less important to be certified, and more important to make changes to actually reduce your footprint, track that and prove what you’re doing.
How do brands get going with understanding their carbon footprint?
NetNada helps brands get going quickly by plugging into your accounting software, like Xero and MYOB, and mapping out your spend. That gives you a very quick first-pass assessment.
So the first step is to integrate with the accounting software to get that initial map. You can also add in invoices etc and do some configuration to fine tune with more details. You can then use that information to get a carbon committed certification which means you state your footprint along with a report that helps support your claims. This is very important, especially with the ACCC cracking down on greenwashing claims and statements about climate in particular.
Then the next step is what to focus on to reduce impact. For example, switching energy at your warehouse or switching hosting provider can make significant impact on your overall footprint and actually save money.
Importantly, the NetNada system is ‘always on’ which means that brands can track their carbon footprint over time, rather than getting a one-off type measurement.
Completing through NetNada gets you about 70% of the way to carbon neutral, and they have consultants in-house to help prepare the final application and go into more specific details to enable the Climate Active Certification.
In addition, NetNada believe that customer engagement is an important part of the puzzle to the economy as a whole moving towards Net Zero. Ecommerce sits in a great position thanks to brand’s relationship and touchpoints with customers, and so on top of the mapping, NetNada also provides tools to help brand communicate with and education their consumers about what is being done to reduce their footprint.
How does a brand’s work towards reducing their footprint become visible to customers?
NetNada hosts a transparency page that you can link to in your business. In addition, the system also automatically generates a range of social assets that can be branded for your organisation. That can become a great transparency and engagement tool as well as a time saver for content creation.
Where are the big wins that can save money and carbon?
Every business is different, but classically ecommerce brands see biggest and quickest wins in carbon footprint reduction from changing hosting provider, changing electricity provider and using carbon neutral delivery services. For the remaining gaps, NetNada can then connect the brands with carbon credits with wholesalers, which typically makes them cheaper than buying those at retail prices.
What’s next for NetNada
The team are looking at bringing in all ESG requirements into one platform so that it makes it easy to report on and communicate everything the brand is doing.
To get started with your carbon footprint assessment today, head over to https://netnada.com.au
Of course the main takeout from today’s show is just how easy NetNada’s platform make it to get started and then get ongoing tracking of your carbon footprint. Simply plug in your accounting software, and in minutes you’ll have a much clearer picture of your areas to focus on. I neglected to ask him during the show, but in chatting after their system connects with MYOB and Xero seamlessly. If you’re running on Quickbooks, they don’t have an API connection to that just yet, but you can still load up export files, and so while not fully automated yet, still achieves the same outcome very quickly.
Plus, you can get started FREE for 7 days, including getting a scope 1,2 & 3 analysis done, so you can see some immediate results.