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Companies are more aware than ever of their impact on the environment, and they are taking action. According to a survey by the Global Business Travel Association, 90% of corporate travel professionals prioritise sustainability in their company. This reflects in the ground number of sustainability-conscious travel policies cropping up in corporate spaces.

For many business leaders though, they can’t quite get their actions to align with their sustainable business travel goals. And this is understandable: exploring environmentally-friendly travel options may seem overwhelming at first. More so, for many companies, particularly SMEs, the potential financial gain is low compared to the investments that go into sustainability efforts. Other barriers might include lack of data, apathy from stakeholders, and the risk of compromising travel quality. 

Despite these hindrances, sustainability is key to the preservation of our planet and our lives. Corporate leaders and individual travellers must adopt eco-friendly business travel policies and practices that can help contribute to the progress that the world is pursuing. However, before you jump into making a positive difference, there are a few basic ideas you must understand.

1. Impactful travel 

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A business travel programme is a complex system that requires careful planning, execution and management. The most effective way to do this is by having a well-defined strategy that aligns with your overall objectives as a corporate body. Otherwise, business and HR leaders risk perpetuating a culture of endless meetings without meaningful collaboration.

It is important to consider the following questions when evaluating whether or not your business trips are worth it: Is it necessary? Does this trip align with our strategic direction? Can we accomplish this goal via other means? For example, if an employee needs to attend a conference call, can they do so remotely instead of taking a flight? Technology has broken down meeting barriers so that employees don’t have to travel as frequently as they used to.

In essence, to ensure sustainable business travel, trips must be purposeful and impactful.  If you’re going to spend money on travel, make sure that it’s worth it. That means making sure there is a clear goal for each trip and evaluating whether or not the trip achieved what it set out to do. In formulating a sustainable travel programme, you should optimise for factors such as flexibility, automation, and travel necessity, among others.

2. Carbon Removal

In a world where the carbon footprint of business travel is a growing concern, carbon removal is increasingly recognised as an important tool to achieve a sustainable business trip. Carbon removal technologies and practices can reduce an organisation’s overall carbon footprint and contribute to achieving net-zero emissions in the long term by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. There are many ways to achieve this through reforestation and afforestation projects, adopting renewable energy sources, and embracing various other forms of biological sequestration.

Carbon removal is different from carbon offsetting, which allows companies to compensate for their emissions by investing in projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions elsewhere, such as renewable energy projects and tree planting initiatives. Carbon removal provides a solution to climate change by addressing its root cause – CO2 in the atmosphere – rather than trying to compensate for it with financial compensation or nature restoration.

Carbon offsets are often used by companies as part of their sustainable business travel efforts and can sometimes be used as an alternative to making other changes within the company’s travel policy. However, offsetting carbon emissions is not enough since it is not as effective as cutting emissions directly by exploring environmentally-friendly alternatives to current business travel measures.

3. Nature restoration

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Restoration is the process of returning an ecosystem to its natural state after it has been damaged, disturbed or destroyed by human activities. In this process, native plants and animals are reintroduced and self-sustaining ecological processes are encouraged to occur naturally. The main idea behind nature restoration is to give back what we took away. This can be as simple as planting trees or as complex as restoring an entire ecosystem. In business, we often refer to this as “going green”. 

Some organizations choose to go about nature restoration by creating partnerships with other companies and organizations that share their values around sustainability and environmental responsibility. This can include partnering with local municipalities to create parks and green spaces within cities, building trails along rivers for recreational use, or even creating educational programs for children about environmental conservation.

The sheer scale of carbon that needs to be removed from the atmosphere can discourage business leaders, especially SME executives, from revamping their sustainable business travel policies to be more environmentally friendly. Yet, nature restoration helps businesses meet their sustainability goals by reducing their environmental impacts and improving their bottom line. Discuss nature restoration efforts with leaders in your community to set off progress towards sustainability.

4. Carbon offset

As a travel manager, you’re the expert in your company’s travel programme, and you know that sustainable business travel isn’t just about reducing emissions. It’s also about helping your travellers reduce their impact on the environment during their travels through carbon offsets. It’s impossible for travellers to avoid having a carbon footprint across their entire journey, but there are ways they can reduce it. For example:

  • Using public transport instead of flying
  • Carpooling with colleagues instead of driving alone
  • Reducing excess baggage when travelling by air
  • Simply buying carbon offsets 

Travel management companies have become very adept at designing solutions that reduce carbon footprint and they can be an important partner in helping you to develop a sustainable business travel programme. For instance, TruTrip collaborates with Patch.io, a simple API integration that helps travellers track their carbon footprint and removal statistics in real-time.


Want to go greener with your business trips?

Before jumpstarting your company’s sustainable business travel programme, you will benefit by booking a demo of how TruTrip can help you achieve your goals more effectively. 

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