A gold label to showcase Sodexo’s inspiring climate commitments in Belgium

04 July 2023

Following CO2logic’s label upgrade in 2022, Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services (Sodexo BRS) obtained the first-ever Gold Company CO2 Neutral label demonstrating its engagement and strong ambition on its way to net-zero.

Greg Renders, Corporate & Social Responsibility Manager at the Belgian office, tells us everything about the meaning of the certification and the way forward; delivering a powerful message to all other businesses.

Sodexo has been granted the first Gold label at the level of the Belgian entity of Benefits and Rewards Services. Following the launch of the upgraded CO2 Neutral label, based on a robust science-aligned Protocol, improved processes and holistic approach covering calculations, reductions and offsetting; CO2logic is proud to have guided Sodexo on its climate journey and recognises the efforts and measures taken by the company on their climate strategy.

Greg Renders, has accepted to talk us through their plan to reduce their carbon footprint, the underlying challenges but also the expected outcome and impact at a much broader scale.

In order to reach its climate ambition, Sodexo BRS must shoulder its responsibilities, rethink its customers’ solutions and its corporate culture.

Sodexo BRS has established a strong reduction plan with more than 20 actions with the objective of reaching its net zero ambitions by 2035. Amongst these actions, two of them are meant to tackle their main emissions hotspots (responsible for up to 80% of their total carbon footprint). Greg reports these two actions detailing the issue, its corresponding actions as well as the challenges for implementation:  

One of the hotspots of emissions is directly linked to the mobility of its employees, more precisely the use of company cars and the second hotspot lays on the production, transport and distribution of the payment solutions (paper and digital vouchers and sodexo card).

To tackle these main two emitting factors, Sodexo is working on an extensive and holistic approach, with both measures that can be implemented in the short to medium term but also looking into the future:  

1) A radical transformation of the mobility behaviors and policies is needed to reduce emissions from company cars and employee commuting in general. After an in-depth analysis of commuting habits, Sodexo realized the office location greatly influenced the employees’ choices related to transportation means. Their current office is based at the exit of the highway with limited public transportation alternatives and many parking spots available. They came to the realization that in order to promote sustainable commuting, they had to come up with attractive options, while solving the main issue: office location. Therefore, a bold decision was made to relocate their office (planned for Q4 2023) in the center of Brussels to a more environmentally responsible and easy to access building (with limited parking possibilities). 

For a company with 70% of journeys done by car, this is a radical and difficult shift to make. This decision triggered many internal discussions but it is the most effective way to bear our responsibilities and substantially reduce our impact.” Furthermore, to make this work, Sodexo is rethinking its mobility plan and teleworking policies to maintain employee engagement and comfort. According to a preliminary assessment, these measures could reduce their car fleet by 75% which would significantly reduce scope 1 emissions.  

2) Reducing emissions related to the payment solutions is a real challenge that requires a revolution in mindsets. In order to reduce to a maximum the emissions arising from payment solutions in the near future, Sodexo first needs to digitize all the payment modes and fully dematerialize them at a later stage. As a first step towards this massive change, Sodexo will be collaborating with pilot-clients (startups) to implement test projects aiming at better anticipating and preparing for “a revolution”:

Moving from paper vouchers to digital ones was a first revolution; fully dematerializing payments (meaning not having a card at all and paying only with a phone, for example) will be the second one. The market is not mature yet for this drastic change but mindsets will have to evolve”.

An upgraded label as a tool to transparently recognise the efforts of each company and a way to motivate all businesses to embark in a climate journey to attain one common objective: scaling impact to help tackle climate change

The Gold label responded perfectly to our ambition since we measure all three scopes and have submitted targets to the Sciences Based Target initiative”. According to Greg, the upgrade of CO2logic’s CO2 Neutral label was vital in order to transparently and consistently show the ambition and progress of each company on their climate strategy.  In addition, Greg also believes that the label is a useful tool to draw attention and open up the discussion around climate topics that are not always easy to grasp. Without such a tool, it is challenging to bring sustainability topics to the table. 

“Awareness is key to understand that we all have a role to play” 

Change isn’t easy and while deep adjustments await Sodexo to ensure they reach their environmental objectives, Greg emphasizes the importance of becoming aware of climate change and its challenges. The stakes are too high and every single individual and company (whatever its sector or size) has a role to play and must start acting now. For this, he advises all businesses to start measuring and understanding their impact, developing measures to address their emissions and prepare for a low-emission future.