In my quest to become fully carbon neutral for 2020, I have started delving into the detail of what powers my race car. Having successfully found a fuel supplier who will offset the carbon footprint of my race fuel in full, my attention now turns to the other consumables that go into running a race car for a season.
When you really analyse it, there are a surprising number of “consumables” (i.e. components that need replacing over the course of a season) on your average racing car, even at club level. These include, but are not limited to, tyres, brake pads, brake fluid, engine oil and filters. In order to run truly carbon neutral, I will need to understand the carbon footprint each of these components brings with it. Where do I start?
Firstly, I try to ascertain what goes into manufacturing or producing each of these components. What is the ‘carbon cost’ of producing a bottle of engine oil, for example? A bit of rigorous research might get me in the ball park of a figure, but it won’t get me to an exact cost as every supplier is different. I have contacted all of the supplier companies who produce parts for my race car to ask them the question: “What is the carbon cost of producing x?”
Secondly, I ask what carbon offsetting schemes the manufacturer currently employs. Do they do anything as part of their manufacturing process that reduces or offsets the carbon footprint of the product they are turning out? This is important because they may already be offsetting some of the carbon cost themselves. For example, if the process of manufacturing a component has a base carbon footprint equivalent to £5, but through efficiency measures or offsetting schemes the manufacturer is absorbing £3 of that, it only leaves me with a residual carbon cost of £2 per component to take into consideration.
Obviously, this is not at all straightforward to calculate. I’d be surprised if many smaller manufacturing companies truly understand their own carbon footprint at a company level, let alone at the level of individual components. But my enquiries have to start somewhere!
Ultimately, I am on the hunt for suppliers who are already adopting carbon offsetting schemes, as this will reduce the residual carbon cost payments I will have to make to achieve a carbon neutral status. I’m hoping to create a sustainability blueprint for more club racers to follow, and part of this will be a shortlist of recommended ‘carbon efficient’ manufacturers. I may only be at the start of my journey, but the cat is out of the bag now so watch this space!
If you are a manufacturer of race car consumables with an active sustainability policy and you would be interested in supplying me for 2020 and beyond, please get in touch as I’d love to hear from you.