Can SMEs Become Carbon Neutral? O’right Says Yes, We All Can!
O’right Shares Its Zero-Carbon Journey at COP15
Ko encourages all SMEs to adopt a circular mindset and design products for both the technical and biological cycles in order to achieve zero carbon.
With the ongoing climate crisis, deteriorating biodiversity, and overconsumption of natural resources, solving the planet’s sustainability crisis will require prompt and systemic changes in society. O’right, the world’s first zero-carbon beauty company, has set an example by rebuilding itself in line with the principles of sustainable development, becoming a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) with a well-educated supply chain and integrated sustainability strategy, a high level of technological expertise, and a strong will to share, influence, and impact all businesses in making a difference.
On October 14 at the inaugural World Biodiversity Summit (WBS) hosted by the World Climate Foundation during the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Kunming, China, O’right chairperson Steven Ko used his keynote speech to echo the warning in the Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC’s AR6), stating that any increase in the temperature beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius will significantly accelerate the extinction of species, render more and more areas of the world uninhabitable, and pose substantial risks for all humans and animals.
“Climate change and biodiversity loss are more intimately intertwined than we imagined,” said Ko. “The manufacturing sector must take action to reduce emissions. This will mean a cost, but it also offers new opportunities for businesses to rebuild with competitive advantages.” He continued, “More importantly, it is possible. We are a living proof!”
Most zero-carbon headlines are dominated by big brands. According to the World Bank, however, up to 90 percent of all businesses are actually SMEs—commonly defined as businesses with up to 250 employees. A growing number of businesses are adopting ambitious targets to reach net-zero carbon, with some, like O’right, striving to become carbon negative. Yet, the big question remains—if decarbonization needs all businesses to change, how can SMEs already struggling to survive accomplish this—let alone reach net zero?
Most SME owners must focus on the day-to-day challenges of running a business and often lack awareness about sustainability. In fact, many don’t have the expertise, money, time, or resources to manage their carbon footprint.
“Sooner or later, all brands will become green,” says Ko. “The trend is going in this direction and other opportunities are tagging along as well.” Ko encourages all SMEs to adopt a circular mindset and design products for both the technical and biological cycles in order to achieve zero carbon.
For SMEs, the pressure is coming from every direction. The legislative “stick” from the government sector is becoming stricter and more demanding. Major financial institutions, as well, are significantly influencing SMEs through their market decisions and transactions. Also, big brands are increasingly required to report on emissions from the value chain, and all suppliers, especially SMEs, will need to tackle their own carbon emissions.
In his WBS presentation, Ko also shared an interesting viewpoint: “A business should look at things from a biological perspective. It is a matter of shifting the mindset from the ‘reuse, refill, and reduce’ of the technical cycle to the biological level—'respond, revive, and respect.’” Ko elaborated, “We should show more respect for nature and lessen the burden on human health and the environment.”
In practice, Ko encourages companies to put zero carbon at the core of their business models. Since 2006, O’right has pledged to protect the environment by reducing plastic at the source. The company made history with the world’s first 100 percent traceable, renewable plastic bottle and plastic pump. In 2019, O’right joined RE100 in making a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025, and the company became the first SME to win the Best Community Changemaker award at the RE100 Leadership Awards in 2020. Although an SME, O’right has achieved product carbon neutrality across its entire product portfolio, organization, and manufacturing operations.
In addition to WBS in Kunming (see video above), O’right will also share its zero-carbon journey at COP 26 in Glasgow:
11/7 1:30 pm (GMT+1) World Climate Summit (live+virtual), Session 3B speaker: Circularity & Life Cycle—Optimizing Business and Policy to Achieve a Circular Economy
11/10 10 am (GMT+1) World Biodiversity Summit (live+virtual), Session 1 speaker: Sustainable and Regenerative Agriculture at the Center of Development Strategies—Challenges and Opportunities
O'right headquarter is the first certified green cosmetics plant in Asia that attained Taiwan's EEWH Green Building Gold Certificate.