A digestion process that uses bacteria and oxygen to break down organic and biological matter such as food waste.
Anaerobic digestion is a process that uses bacteria to break down organic matter to produce biogas. It also produces biofertiliser for use in ethanol production or building materials.
B Corp’s are for-profit companies that have voluntarily committed to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency set by B Lab.
Biodegradable refers to the ability to decay naturally by the action of living things such as bacteria, fungi and microorganisms. It produces natural gases and biomass.
Biofuel is made from living things or their waste and is a viable alternative to fossil fuels. The most common biofuels are ethanol, biogas and biodiesel.
Bioplastic is a plastic made from plant materials from renewable biological sources, including corn starch, vegetable fats and oils rather than petroleum. Most bioplastics are biodegradable.
Carbon capture and storage
Carbon capture and storage is a technology which captures carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial processes and electricity generation.
A carbon credit is a tradable certificate or permit enabling the holder to produce CO2 or other greenhouse gases (GHGs). The emission limit is up to a mass equal to one ton of carbon dioxide.
Carbon emissions refer to the release of carbon compounds – particularly CO2 – into the atmosphere. CO2 is the primary GHG emitted through human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels for energy, manufacturing processes and transportation.
Carbon footprint is the amount of GHG emissions released into the atmosphere due to human activities, whether from an individual, organisation or community.
Carbon neutral describes the process of an entity such as a business, product or event, where the carbon emissions produced are offset with an equivalent amount of CO2 removed.
Carbon offsets are a response to carbon emissions and refer to the purchase of verified carbon credits to compensate for GHGs produced by individuals or companies. Carbon offsetting is considered to be a last resort when all other efforts to mitigate carbon emissions have been exhausted.
A circular economy is a model based on the principles of extending the life cycle of products/materials for as long as possible through sharing, leasing, recycling, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, etc.
Closed loop refers to a business model where products are recycled and reused or when manufacturing waste is used to provide the energy required to produce new materials.
Materials that, under the right conditions and within a specific timeframe, break down into non-toxic components.
CSR, or corporate social responsibility, is a concept whereby companies seek to enhance the environment and society. Initiatives can encompass activities like adopting sustainable business practices, supporting charitable causes and promoting ethical employment practices.
Cradle to cradle
Inspired by nature, a cradle to cradle framework aims to create waste-free production techniques by ensuring technical material can be recycled or reused while retaining the same quality. Meanwhile, any biological materials will be consumed or composted.
Cradle to grave
Put simply, cradle to grave is the full life cycle assessment of a product or activity from extraction to disposal and the environmental impact it creates. The term can also refer to a company’s responsibility for the disposal of items it has produced.
ESG stands for environmental, social and governance and is frequently used interchangeably with CSR and sustainability. It refers to a reporting framework designed to measure a business’s impact and performance in ESG categories and used by investors to identify risks and growth opportunities.
E-waste commonly refers to the waste and disposal of broken or obsolete electronic devices and components. It includes products such as mobile phones, computers and TVs.
Greenhouse gas (GHG)
Greenhouse gases include methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide produced by human activities like burning fossil fuels and deforestation. These gases absorb infrared radiation and trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere, thereby contributing to global warming.
A form of marketing which makes misleading claims about environmental practices, services or products that leads consumers to believe a company is more environmentally friendly than it really is.
A growing trend that involves organisations not communicating sustainability targets and/or efforts for fear of greenwashing accusations.
Life cycle assessment (LCA)
Life cycle assessment is cradle to cradle or cradle to grave analysis of the total environmental impact of a product’s life, including raw material extraction, manufacturing, use and disposal.
Fragments of plastic particles less than 5mm in length are called microplastics.
Net zero occurs when GHG emissions released into the atmosphere are balanced out by the removal or offsetting of such emissions over a specified period.
Paris Agreement / Paris climate accord
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It aims to keep the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.
Post-consumer recycled (PCR)
Material or products that have served their initial purpose and been diverted from landfill are known as post-consumer recycled content. PCR is often used in reference to plastic that will be recycled.
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) helps businesses in the private sector to set science-based emissions reduction targets to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Scope 1 emissions are direct GHG emissions generated by a company’s owned and controlled operations, including transport, manufacturing processes, heating buildings, etc.
Scope 2 emissions are indirect GHG emissions from the purchase and use of energy – electricity, steam, heat and cooling – from a utility provider.
Scope 3 emissions are all indirect GHG emissions not covered under Scope 1 and 2. Sometimes referred to as value chain emissions, they occur in the reporting company’s upstream (related to the purchased or acquired goods and services) and downstream (related to the goods and services sold by the reporting business).
Single-use plastic refers to disposable plastic packaging and items intended to be used only once before being taken away or recycled. These include items such as straws, carrier bags, bottles and containers, cutlery and snack wrappers.
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Set by the UN, the SDGs are a blueprint for achieving a more sustainable future. There are 17 SDGs designed to address current global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate, peace, prosperity and environmental degradation.
Triple bottom line
A sustainability accounting framework that changes the traditional financial bottom line to prioritise people, planet and profit equally.
Zero carbon (net zero carbon)
Zero carbon/net zero carbon means a product, service or activity that creates no carbon emissions.
Zero waste is the mission of producing little or no waste. It promotes responsible manufacturing, consumption and reuse or recycling of materials, products and packaging.