08 April 2024

Steenbergs Carbon Footprint - Drilling into the Data

In 2016, Steenbergs began on its plan to reduce its controllable carbon impacts. Here, we discuss how we've reduced the direct impacts by over -90% (before carbon offsets) since then..

Steenbergs Carbon Footprint - Drilling into the Data

Following on from our Impact Report, I've been drilling into the data behind our carbon impact to look at how we push towards our commitment to net zero. These are summarised below.

Scope 1 - Own Vehicles

This relates to petrol vehicles that the company has. We do not have any petrol, gas or similar vehicles within the business. Our forklift is electric. Sophie and I have a car that is electric, as well.

Table 1: Scope 1 Carbon Impacts

Fuel Used / kWhScope 1 Carbon / CO2e (kg)
Change 2017 - 2023--

Scope 2 - Electricity Used

This is energy consumed within Steenbergs. We get electricity from the grid and have onsite solar that provides about one-third of our needs. We get energy from Octopus and British Gas and are shifting these away from fossil fuels towards sustainable, zero carbon fuels. At the start of our decarbonization program, we were 100% fossil fuels with Scottish Power.

Steenbergs energy usage has gone down by -23% over the period 2017 – 2023 through energy efficiency actions within the business. Over that period, we have reduced the carbon produced by introducing onsite solar that generates 34% of our needs (included in the total energy consumption) and switching energy providers to sustainable suppliers. We still need to switch British Gas, but we’re locked in a contract for the moment.

Through these actions, we have reduced Scope 2 carbon costs by -95% from 14 tonnes CO2e to 0.7 tonnes CO2e.

On top of this, we’ve got 103 tonnes of carbon credits in the company through our wood in Wales and ClimateCare. Our wood in Wales is a scheme operated under the Welsh Government’s Glastir rules and the Forestry Commission’s Woodland Carbon Code and those with ClimateCare are in their mixed portfolio for SMEs. In our opinion, this means we are in credit for about 65 tonnes of carbon over the last 7 years of operation.

Table 2: Scope 3 Carbon Impact

Total Electricity Use / kWhOnsite Solar As % of TotalScope 2 Carbon / CO2e (kg)
Change 2017 - 2023-23.5%34%-95.1%

Frustratingly, British Gas were momentarily zero carbon but have since reintroduced fossil fuels into their mix. That's why we were zero but have now gone up again!

Scope 3 - Everything Else

Scope 3 is a bucket that covers everything else to do with the business. I’ll expand on this area in another blog post.

How we see it, though, is that you must try to control and decrease those parts of your carbon footprint that you can control in practice. Effectively, this is your marginal carbon cost whereas the other costs are sunk costs and relate to the structure of the economy and the way we live.

We essentially don’t do any business travel. We maybe do the odd trip to London but until this year we hadn’t done any trips since before Covid. So, that’s minimal.

The other business ones are water, sewerage, and waste & recycling:

  • Our water use has gone down -8%, with the result that carbon costs have gone down -67% because the water industry has become more efficient. This is because of better water usage and the installation of rainwater harvesting at 6 Hallikeld Close.
  • Our total waste generated has decreased by over -50%, with recycling at 47% and waste-to-energy at 53% in 2023 – it sort of fluctuates around 50:50. We made a switch during Covid to reusing a lot of our cardboard and plastic rather than recycling it which is why that's gone down a lot. No waste has gone to landfill since 2010. The carbon costs from waste & recycling have gone down -55%.

Table 3: Scope 3 Carbon Analysis - Direct & Controllable Impacts

Water / m3Scope 3 Carbon - Water / CO2e (kg)Waste - Recycled / kgWaste - Energy Capture / kgScope 3 Carbon - Waste / CO2e (kg)
Change 2017 - 2023-8.0%-66.7%-67.9%-27.7%-55.6%


Totting up our controllable carbon impact, this has gone down by -94% over the period 2017 – 2023 from 14 tonnes CO2e to 0.8 tonnes CO2e. Then, we’ve got at least 103 tonnes of carbon offsets that give an overall net negative carbon cost of -63 tonnes over the period 2017 – 2023. These carbon credits are mainly from our woodland in Wales where Sophie and I physically have planted lots of the trees and they’re under a genuine UK-government scheme, so they’re not bullshit credits - just a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

The question now moves onto Scope 3 emissions and how these are considered. I’ll address this in another blog post because it’s a debate and I remain unconvinced about the data driven pathway to achieving this.

Table 4: Steenbergs Carbon Balance Sheet

Scope 1 / CO2e (kg)Scope 2 / CO2e (kg)Scope 3 (Part) / CO2e (kg)Controllable Carbon / CO2e (kg)Carbon Credits (kg)Net Carbon (kg)
Cumulative 2017 - 2023037,8911,99239,883103,000(63,117)
Change 2017 - 2023--95.1%-58.9%-94.2%--