The car rental market is one market that is constantly getting greener, offering a growing number of green services from the newest electric cars to car sharing programs. Yet surprisingly, none of the major car rental companies, until now, have published a sustainability report. Well, that was true until last week when Enterprise Holdings (which owns and operates Alamo, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car brands) took the lead and announced the release of its first ever sustainability report.
If you have followed TriplePundit for a while this news shouldn’t come as a surprise to you – reports on Enterprise’s commitment to sustainability and green initiatives date back to 2008 and 2009. This year you could also read here how Enterprise is the first to offer Chevy Volts for rent and is rolling out the largest EV rental fleet in service. It also makes sense that as the leading rental car company in the world (measured by revenue, employees and fleet,) Enterprise also leads this market when it comes to sustainability reporting.
Here are some of the report’s highlights:
Looking at the company’s carbon footprint reduction goal, it seems reasonable at first given these are the company’s first steps in calculating and managing its carbon emissions. Yet, it’s important to note that this goal relates only to Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, which represent only 3 percent of the company’s overall impact. The rest, 97 percent, are Scope 3 emissions generated mainly from the cars as Enterprise’s customers drive them. If you do the math, you find that the company’s goal equals a 0.3 percent reduction, which doesn’t seem to be too challenging, to say the least.
Enterprise is not the first company that has made big commitments for small sections of their footprint. We also see this pattern in other companies' reports, like Timberland and Vodafone. I have to say I’m not a big fan of these sorts of goals, as they might lead to a misrepresentation of the company’s efforts to reduce its overall impact. Yet, I do have to commend Enterprise for being fully transparent, giving clear and detailed explanations about their decision not to include Scope 3 in their goal for now (it’s seems they just don’t have the information now), and committing in their goals for the next report to “establish a baseline for Scope 3 emissions within our supply chain. Other indirect emissions such as fuels, transport-related activities – and, in our specific case, the GHG emissions of our cars as our customers drive them.”
It was also encouraging to read in the report on their chairman’s task force – a cross-functional group of 15 department heads and subject-matter experts that is at the core of Enterprise’s sustainability effort. Founded last year, the task force identified priorities for Enterprise’s sustainability program and it transcends individual departments to bring a full-scope approach to important issues and makes addressing them a responsibility of the entire company. Creating such a senior governing body not only helps to integrate sustainability in the company in a strategic way, but also ensures the company’s commitment to this process on all levels and throughout all of its operations.
With a fleet of more than 1.2 million cars and trucks, Enterprise has the power to push the transportation space forward and make it more sustainable. It is becoming more important as we see a growing demand for SUVs and light trucks. This trend means that without a gas tax or similar economic incentives, we need the help of companies like Enterprise to make the market greener. Therefore, this report is very important, providing a clear indication that sustainability has become an essential part of Enterprise’s DNA.
Raz Godelnik is the co-founder of Eco-Libris, a green company working to green up the book industry in the digital age. He is also an adjunct professor in the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics.
Raz Godelnik is an Assistant Professor and the Co-Director of the MS in Strategic Design & Management program at Parsons School of Design in New York. Currently, his research projects focus on the impact of the sharing economy on traditional business, the sharing economy and cities’ resilience, the future of design thinking, and the integration of sustainability into Millennials’ lifestyles. Raz is the co-founder of two green startups – Hemper Jeans and Eco-Libris and holds an MBA from Tel Aviv University.