If you are trying to “green” your company, starting a recycling program is only the thinnest layer on the tip of the sustainability iceberg. Business travel, now seldom glamorous and often a grind, leaves an enormous mark with its own sizable carbon footprint. More businesses are interested in calculating their impact on the planet, but all the moving parts involved with business travel make the accounting difficult. While about 80% of companies express an interest in green travel initiatives, less than 40% do so, though that percentage has risen incrementally over the years. Now MasterCard is making this priceless, or should we say, easier.
The sustainability consultancy Brighter Planet has partnered with the credit card giant MasterCard Worldwide to provide a solution. Last week at the Ceres Conference in Oakland, Brighter Planet announced a new initiative that replaces expensive software and consultants with a more seamless process to track both travel expenses and their environmental impact.
For businesses that use MasterCard corporate cards, the partnership has launched a carbon emissions reporting feature that will help businesses evaluate their travel activities and influence future travel policies. The program will crunch the data based on employee’s purchases using Brighter Planet’s CM1 calculation platform. The resulting scoring, which will use standardized carbon calculation methodologies, will integrate with MasterCard’s web-based expense report system. For the folks who have to write the sustainability reports and run a firm’s corporate social responsibility portal, the MasterCard tool could be another step to easier disclosure.
We all know that air flights, car rentals, and hotel stays, result in emissions, consume energy, and have a carbon footprint. Few of us, however, have the time or capacity to sort out the numbers even with the most complicated spreadsheet or web tool. Brighter Planet’s CM1, however, will be available to users without any additional fees for MasterCard’s clients. Employees and managers will then have the ability to compare, benchmark, and track emissions metrics across various functions and divisions.
Brighter Planet already has a strong track record in this space. Its software is behind Yaktrak, FedEx’s CO2 emissions tracking system. Another partnership with Bank of America provides 180,000 debit and credit card holders with a card that delivers carbon offsets and renewable energy projects based on cardholders’ spending.
With U.S. business travel generating about US$240 billion in spending each year, there is plenty of data for corporate travel managers to analyze in developing smarter travel policies. Should CM1 succeed with future growth–and imitators in this space–look for companies from rental car agencies to hotel chains to offer more “green” and therefore, cost effective options. Brighter Planet is proof that a cleaner and greener future is largely due to technology companies.
The CM1 program will roll out later this year.