Hubert Burda Media has been publishing detailed carbon footprints since 2019 to show the Group's greenhouse gas emissions.
Since 2020, Hubert Burda Media has calculated annual carbon footprints for the previous year. Our base year is therefore 2019. All greenhouse gas emissions are included, i.e. not only CO2 but also methane and fluorine etc. Cumulatively, these are presented as CO2 equivalents, which is abbreviated as in CO2e.
This audit is performed according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the international reporting standard for corporate carbon footprints used by 90% of Fortune 500 companies to depict their emissions. Essentially, the Protocol is designed to provide standards for common categories such as business travel and electricity.
The types of emissions are referred to as scopes, and all three types (1-3) caused by corporations are reflected in the Hubert Burda Media corporate carbon footprint. They include both direct and indirect emissions. Scope 1, for example, defines the emissions caused by the production of electricity and heat at our cogeneration plant. Scope 2, includes the emissions caused by the energy we purchase from third parties. And Scope 3 incorporates items such as the emissions produced by our commuting, business travel and even the food we eat in our canteen.
Our carbon footprints include the emissions of all domestic companies in which Hubert Burda Media has a majority holding, i.e. a stake of 50.01% or more. An effort will be made to expand this to foreign companies (UK, France, Poland, the Czech Republic and Southeast Asia) by the end of 2022.
Hubert Burda Media (HBM) divides its emissions into four different categories: Paper, Printing, Commerce and Office. As the carbon footprint is drawn up in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (see below for further information), a mandatory risk mark-up of ten per cent is also added.
In 2021, Hubert Burda Media's total emissions were calculated at 162,159 tons of CO2e. Compared to the base year 2019, this represents a decrease of around eight per cent. This figure was eleven per cent higher than in the preceding year 2020. This is chiefly attributable to the decline of the pandemic and the increased emissions from paper used.
Figure 1: Development of carbon footprint 2019-2021 (Source: HBM Sustainability Tool, Status: 13.09.2022)
The paper used by HBM for its print publications accounts for the largest share of emissions: In 2021, the associated CO2e emissions reached 67,594t CO2 (or 42% of the overall total). Printing operations generated CO2e emissions of 59,233t CO2e (37%). The emissions from logistics for consumer products (10,172t CO2e/ 6%) and office activities (10,418t CO2e/ 6%) were significantly lower.
Compared to 2020, emissions in 2021 increased in all categories bar Office. The absolute increase was highest for paper, as paper types with an inferior environmental footprint had to be used. This factor is difficult to avoid in the current circumstances.
Fig. 2: Carbon footprint 2019-2021 by area (Source: HBM Sustainability Tool, Status: 13.09.2022)
In addition to the internal categorisation, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol distinguishes between three different scopes (1-3) of emissions. Scope 1 at HBM primarily includes direct emissions from heat in gravure printing. Scope 2 includes indirect emissions from electricity and other energy used. And Scope 3 includes all other kinds of emissions, such as those generated for materials or at the office during our everyday work.
Accordingly, approximately 26% of the CO2e emissions caused by HBM are attributable to Scope 1, 4% to Scope 2 and 70% to Scope 3.
Fig. 3: Carbon footprint 2019-2021 by scope (Source: HBM Sustainability Tool, Status: 13.09.2022)
The carbon footprints are independently drawn up by internal experts in conjunction with the business units in question. The "getting better" team now consists of five members of Corporate Development staff who work on sustainability-related topics part-time. A further 184 people took part in discussions during the compilation of the carbon footprints.
The advantage of tapping this in-house expertise is that the team knows and understands the entire Group and its processes very well, enabling them to tailor the steps for reducing CO2e to the organisation's actual output and needs. To calculate the optimum carbon footprint for our corporation and develop measures to achieve it, we avoid the use of averages and general assumptions as far as possible. By anchoring "getting better" in the Corporate Development team, we ensure that the issue is directly discussed at Management Board level. Our carbon footprint was audited by ClimatePartner to determine our offset targets.
The standardised calculation of our corporate carbon footprint is just one element of the comprehensive efforts undertaken since the 1990s by Hubert Burda Media – and especially by BurdaDruck – to act sustainably in accordance with the company’s values.
Image © Dave Hoevler, Unsplash