Navigating the Path to Carbon Neutrality: Insights from Reuben Digital

Adam Pritchard

By Adam Pritchard
March 21, 2024

In today’s evolving business landscape, sustainability stands as a paramount goal, with the UK Government’s 2050 carbon neutrality target pressing upon companies to adapt.

One of our Linford Grey clients, Ray Stephens, Managing Director at Reuben Digital, shares their journey towards carbon neutrality, highlighting innovative approaches to reducing their environmental impact. Leveraging technology and strategic initiatives, Reuben Digital demonstrates how sustainability and success intertwine, offering actionable insights for businesses embarking on similar paths. Discover how a partnership with a Xero application has become instrumental in their sustainability roadmap, reshaping the narrative of digital businesses as key contributors to a greener future.

Ray Stephens is the Managing Director at Reuben Digital, a technology business which has been based in Highworth for over 20 years.  Reuben Digital specialises in swiftly solving unique and complex business challenges through the engineering of web-centric applications and business systems, and guiding businesses on their digital transformation journey.

Ray explains how an application offered by a Xero partner is at the core of their journey towards carbon net zero.

“As most businesses should be aware, The UK Government has set a target for businesses to have achieved carbon net zero by 2050. In practice, this means reducing your carbon dioxide (or equivalent) emissions by 90% and then it is permissible to offset the remaining 10% to become carbon net zero.  There’s a bewildering array of information out there on the subject, from practical ways of reducing energy consumption, to guides on how to calculate your annual emissions.

Here at Reuben Digital, we are into our second year of getting to grips with what the Government target means for our business – ostensibly an IT company with low environmental impact since we inhabit entirely virtual, screen-centric environments.  In fact, the reality is that we are part of the digital sector that is responsible for around 4% of global carbon emissions, which sounds relatively small but is actually similar to the aviation industry’s contribution – and if the Internet were a country, it would be the world’s 4th largest polluter by some estimates!

So how have we started chipping away at this massive challenge? One of the first areas we looked in 2023 at was to try and calculate our current carbon footprint, so that we could establish a benchmark or base year, against which we could start setting targets towards reaching the net zero goals.  We soon discovered that there were lots of ways of calculating our emissions, using different methodologies and different internationally-recognised standards, namely either using spend-based calculations that use average industry emissions per unit of currency spent, or calculating Co2 emissions based on activity data from individual suppliers.

Fortunately, we discovered Ecologi Zero, a B-Corp-certified environmental organisation that helps companies measure their carbon emissions.  Their free app is available from the Xero App Store and connects seamlessly with Xero to calculate emissions from our own business data.  Ecologi Zero particularly suitable for SMEs in the service industry, whose emissions are largely scope 3 emissions generated by their supply chain.  It’s allowed us to see what areas of our annual spending is generating the largest CO2e emissions so that we know what to focus on to reduce emissions. Ecologi Zero also facilitates the funding of carbon offset projects and tree planting around the world.

Reuben Digital has purchased carbon credits, that are either Gold Standard or Verified Carbon Standard, to offset the carbon emissions of our annual flights to Indonesia, where our remote team of developers are based.  The Premium (paid) version of Ecologi Zero additionally offers an easy way of generating an annual report of your carbon footprint and getting tailored reduction advice based on your emission hotspots.

In parallel with our Ecologi integration, we’ve achieved a lot in 2023, including:

  • Identifying better sustainable practices in the office to cut emissions from electricity use and heating costs.
  • Researching our current suppliers to find out where they are on their own path to sustainability – in 2024, we aim to move away from suppliers who are not setting their own carbon net zero targets and to generally reduce overall spending with third-party suppliers.
  • Publishing a Sustainable Travel Policy and joining Climate Perks, encouraging staff to choose clean travel by offering paid journey days for flight-free holidays.
  • Reorganising our office recycling procedures Installing low energy lighting and thermal blinds during our new office refit.
  • Upgrading our own technology stack so that the solutions we deliver to clients are carbon-efficient and sustainable.

And most importantly, as a tech company, this project has allowed us to bring some very real benefits to our clients.  As we shine a light on all areas of our business, pushing for greater sustainability, greener suppliers and more carbon-efficient web technology and design, we shall be passing this intentionality into our design and build protocol to make our client’s websites perform better on a new technology stack, giving their customers a faster, more user-friendly experience – with less mouse clicks – for an agile solution that doesn’t cost the earth.

If you would like to learn more about how you can make a start on your own carbon net zero journey, please do reach out to me and the team. We would be delighted to share with you our experience and knowledge gained so far.”

Ray Stephens
Tel: 01793 861443