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Decoding the Top 10 Sustainability Terms in Corporate Travel

top 10 sustainability terms

Today, companies evaluate program efficacy by harmonizing various aspects: the demands of their business operations, their employee’s well-being, and their commitment to corporate responsibility. It’s not about choosing between these factors anymore; it’s about achieving a cohesive blend, a synergy between people, profit, and the planet.

For this, they implement sustainability steps into corporate travel programs to lower their carbon footprints. This article explains the top 10 words you need to know when making business travel better for the planet.

1. ‘Reduce’ Carbon Emissions

Reducing carbon emissions refers to decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere from activities like burning fossil fuels for transportation. This is a key aspect of sustainability and environmental responsibility for corporate travel.  

There are several ways companies can reduce the carbon footprint of their business travel:

  • You must do remote meetings when possible. Conferencing tools such as Google Meet and Zoom make online interactions easier.
  • Try to travel by train rather than choosing flights for shorter trips. Trains have a smaller carbon footprint per passenger mile.
  • Choose nonstop flights to reduce the extra emissions that are caused by layovers.
  • Plan multiple meetings at one destination to reduce the quantity of overall emissions.

When you take these steps, you help your company shrink the carbon footprint of its corporate travel programs, leading to more sustainable operations.

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2. ‘Offset’ Carbon Emissions

Decreasing carbon exhaust should be of utmost importance for any business travel sustainability program. However, it can be impossible to remove all emissions from corporate travel. This is where carbon offsets come in. These steps offer a way to compensate for the emissions that you may not be able to avoid. Companies can purchase carbon offsets to make their travel carbon-neutral. 

There are two main types of offsets to know:

  • Renewable energy certificates (RECs): These offset emissions by putting renewable energy onto the grid. For example, if a company buys RECs equal to the emissions from their flights, they support renewable electricity generation equal to their air travel footprint.
  • Other emission reduction projects: These projects directly reduce emissions through forest conservation, building solar cookstoves in developing countries, or containing methane from landfills. The certified emissions reductions from these projects can be purchased as offsets.

Offsets provide a flexible way for companies to take responsibility for their entire carbon footprint from travel. The key is purchasing high-quality verified offsets that follow established offset standards.

3. Sustainable Aviation Fuel 

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) refers to fuel made from sustainable feedstocks that can reduce lifecycle carbon emissions compared to conventional jet fuel. Five approved pathways are currently for converting waste oils, agricultural residues, municipal solid waste, and other biomass sources into jet fuel through various chemical processes.

4. Responsible Tourism

Responsible tourism is travel that positively impacts the local community, environment, and economy. It aims to preserve destinations for the future and benefit local people through employment, fair wages, and social initiatives.  

Companies can practice responsible tourism in several ways:

  • Hire local guides to share knowledge of the destination’s culture and heritage. This provides income and helps preserve traditions.
  • Stay in eco-friendly accommodations that give back through community service projects or environmental restoration. 
  • Buy from local artisans, farmers, and small businesses. Support fair wages and authentic cultural products.  
  • Participate in voluntourism programs that let travelers volunteer skills like teaching English, building schools, or cleaning up beaches.
  • Follow Leave No Trace principles to avoid littering, stay on trails, and leave sites undisturbed.
  • Travel respectfully, follow local customs, dress appropriately, and purchase ethically sourced souvenirs.

Practicing responsible tourism principles helps protect destinations while improving local economies and spreading cultural understanding. Companies that prioritize responsible travel make a positive global impact.

5. Circular Economy

A circular economy is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. It employs reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing, and recycling to create a closed-loop system, minimizing the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste, pollution, and carbon emissions.  

The travel industry has begun adopting circular economy principles in several ways:

  • Hotels are reducing single-use plastics by switching to bulk amenities and eliminating small plastic bottles. They also donate used furniture, linens, and equipment to charity rather than sending them to landfills.
  • Airlines are starting to use sustainable aviation fuel made from waste oils and agricultural residues. They are also exploring ways to recycle cabin waste.
  • The sharing economy allows underutilized assets like homes, vehicles, and equipment to be shared rather than sitting idle. Airbnb is a prime example.
  • Travel companies are working with suppliers to reduce packaging and source recycled and recyclable materials.

6. Eco-Certification

Eco-certification refers to environmental certifications awarded to hotels, venues, and other establishments to indicate they have met certain corporate sustainability standards and criteria. Some of the major eco-certification programs in the hospitality and meetings industry include:

Green Key Global: An international certification standard recognizing hotels, conference centers, and other venues that demonstrate environmental responsibility and use eco-friendly business travel practices. 

LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a green building certification program that rates new and renovated buildings on metrics like energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions, and resource utilization. Many conference venues now seek LEED certification for their sustainable construction and operations.

Green Seal: This U.S.-based program certifies lodging properties and hotels that meet a broad range of sustainability requirements related to waste minimization, water and energy conservation, hazardous substance handling, and indoor air quality. 

Eco-certifications provide meeting and event planners visibility into the environmental commitments and achievements of venues they are considering. Prioritizing certified green hotels and conference centers is an important corporate sustainability practice.

7. Smart Meetings

Smart meetings integrate sustainability into every aspect of event planning and execution. This involves carefully considering venue selection, food and beverage, technology, transportation, waste management, etc.  

Some tips for planning a sustainable meeting include:

  • Choose a green venue certified in sustainability standards like LEED or BREEAM. Look for energy efficiency, waste diversion programs, green commuting options for staff, and corporate sustainability policies.
  • Offer vegetarian, organic, seasonal, fair trade, and locally sourced menu options. Avoid plastic water bottles and utensils. 
  • Set up recycling stations and compost food waste. Print minimally and only use recyclable or biodegradable signage and collateral.
  • Encourage attendees to use public transit, walk, carpool, or take high-occupancy vehicles to the event. Consider purchasing carbon offsets for flights and transportation. 

8. Green Hotels

Green hotels or sustainable hotels are stays that give importance to environmental friendliness, and it is reflected in their operations and services. These hotels use practices to reduce their carbon footprint, conserve resources, and create a minimal impact on the local environment. For instance, they serve local food, use reusable plastics, reduce water wastage, and promote recycling.

9. Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is when a company does not just think about making money but rather cares about the environment. These companies also try to make a positive impact on the community. 

In simpler terms, it involves owners making ethical choices and using fewer resources. As a result, it reduces waste generation. Companies that care about CSR also listen to what their employees, customers, and the community think, and they work together to make sure everyone benefits in the long run

Companies embracing CSR programs frequently have expanded their business to a stage where they can contribute to society. Consequently, CSR is a strategy embraced by major corporations. Essentially, the more prominent and prosperous a corporation becomes, the greater its obligation to establish ethical benchmarks within its industry, influencing its peers and competitors.

Suggested Read:

How SaaS Impacts Expense Corporate Social Responsibility

10. Net Zero

Net zero is when a company’s emission of greenhouse gases matches those that can be removed from the atmosphere. You can do so by mainly minimizing carbon emissions as much as possible. 

As a result, only when you have made a good amount of reduction in the GHG you can consider offsetting any remaining unavoidable CO2 emissions. To do this, you can invest in projects that remove an equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Conclusion 

By adopting these top 10 sustainability terms outlined here, companies can reduce the environmental impact that may be caused by business travel. Owners can also consider using a travel platform to make their efforts more impactful.

For this purpose, ITILITE corporate travel management software can be quite useful. It offers sustainability insights that can help you pinpoint where to improve your efforts to reduce emissions. 

With ITILITE, you can make eco-friendly choices and promote carbon neutrality for a greener, more responsible future in business travel management.

To know more, book a free demo with us today!

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Corporate travel management can be extremely daunting. Getting travelers to stick to budgets while booking travel, monitoring spends or finding support for travelers – there is always something that needs to be done. That’s why we built a solution that makes corporate travel management simpler.

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