Barnsley based marketing agency, Webmart, recently joined the Net Zero Accelerator at The Business Village in its quest to become the world’s most sustainable marketing agency.
Established in 1996 by founder Simon Biltcliffe, Webmart has offices in both Barnsley and Bicester near Oxford. Covering the full scope of print marketing, clients include big name organisations such as Nintendo and Microsoft, through to local SME’s and charities.
It’s clear that sustainability is high on the agenda for the business which has been B Corp certified since November 2021 and holds other environmental certification such as PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification), FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) and ISO 14001 (environmental management systems).
Jess du Plessis, Sales and Marketing Coordinator said, “We’ve been pushing for a long time to be as sustainable as possible and address our Scope 3 emissions too. When we heard about the Net Zero Accelerator, it was an obvious choice for us to join and learn from other businesses to identify opportunities which we may not have considered ourselves.”
The Net Zero Accelerator offers a range of free diagnostics, training, networking, and innovation coaching to help companies become carbon neutral. Now on its third cohort of businesses, it provides an environment where those from differing sectors and at various stages in their journey to net zero can learn from each other.
This opportunity for collaboration was an important factor for Webmart and, whilst further ahead than some, the team have still found it useful to learn from other businesses and understand what may or may not work well for themselves.
“It’s been really interesting to see what people have done especially as many of our sustainability improvements were implemented a few years ago. Alternative processes and options have since become available so, by learning from others, we can identify new opportunities. In return, we can help other organisations on the programme by sharing some of the things we’ve already implemented.”
Webmart has an inclusive culture, considering the intellectual, emotional, and financial needs of staff, suppliers, and customers. Coining the phrase ‘Marxist Capitalism’ importance is placed on the principles of capitalism to generate income and profit, then sharing those profits within the business and community.
The business donates large amounts to charity and, in 2014, acquired an oxygen farm which is 164 acres of woodland in Scotland. Last year, they committed £300k to rewilding the woodland, digging new ponds and planting 12,000 trees to help improve biodiversity.
Reducing carbon footprint is seen as a continuous journey within the business but the team are also introducing carbon neutral or climate positive solutions which will enable customers to demonstrate environmentally conscious marketing activity.
“We’ve already introduced climate positive postage to the market through our Enviromail service. By mapping the Royal Mail journey from our mailing houses to front doors, we can accurately calculate the carbon footprint of mail distribution to PAS2060 standards, taking into account pack weight and volume. By twice offsetting this carbon footprint as a free of charge service to customers, it turns mail delivery into a climate positive activity.”
Another solution currently in the pipeline is a carbon calculator for print which will enable an accurate carbon footprint calculation for any type of print specification. This will then allow customers to offset the carbon generated and, by using Enviromail for the postage, any mail campaigns can be fully climate positive.
Bringing the print carbon calculators to market is Webmart’s current priority but, once completed, the team will begin looking at measuring and reducing the carbon footprint from digital marketing. It’s recognised that finding opportunities within digital marketing will be a big challenge, but data cleansing and targeted emails/advertisements are already being considered.
Internally, the business has already introduced energy efficient lighting and heating systems, added solar panels to buildings and installed electric vehicle charging points at both sites. The process of moving their hybrid fleet to fully electric vehicles has begun, and full Scope 1 and 2 emissions are being measured and offset annually, supporting three climate schemes:
Although Webmart had already measured its carbon footprint and taken steps toward offsetting before joining the Net Zero Accelerator, the company has found being on the programme a useful experience.
“It’s been interesting to collaborate with other businesses on the Net Zero Accelerator and gain new insights. There will come a time in the future when businesses have their hands forced in terms of becoming sustainable but being proactive is a much better approach for your business, your employees, and your network. It’s important to look at sustainability for the right reasons rather than as a marketing tactic. We should all be working together to try and improve our impact on the planet.”
Kevin Steel, Business Development Manager at The Business Village said, ” It’s extremely rewarding to see how our accelerator is complementing Webmart’s existing journey to Net Zero. Their ambitious plans for sustainable marketing for businesses has been a real eye opener for me”.
Funding for the Net Zero Accelerator at The Business Village comes from the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and Barnsley Metropolitan Council.