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Geotab sustainability report reveals progress, but higher emissions

The cover to Geotab's latest sustainability report
Courtesy Geotab Inc.

Toronto-based telematics provider Geotab Inc. released its 2022 sustainability and impact report, noting progress on several fronts but an increase in carbon emissions – mainly due to Scope 3 emissions.

The report also provides more details about those indirect emissions, so Geotab can assist in building better decarbonization plans for its suppliers.

The company is developing a program to increase sustainability in its supply chain. At the end of 2022, five of Geotab’s top-10 suppliers, by spend, were reporting their environmental data to CDP. Geotab’s goal is to have its top-10 suppliers make a public commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.

“As a company, we are doing a lot to help decarbonize the transportation industry as a whole. But at the same time a big part of my role is really that we're trying to walk the walk ourselves and going through that whole process of capturing and reporting on our emissions,” Chuck Van Kempen, Geotab’s associate vice-president of corporate sustainability, said.

Geotab, headquartered in Oakville, Ont. and founded in 2000, provides telematics hardware solutions for fleet management. The company offers a number of solutions and data points around fuel efficiency, management and electric vehicles (EV). It has offices in China, Singapore, France, Italy, Mexico, Australia, Spain, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S., and its products are sold worldwide via authorized resellers.

The company's reach is more than 3.1 million vehicles connected to 44,000 customers, which includes the public transportation infrastructure of New York City.

Geotab and sustainability

Geotab has two GHG reduction goals approved by the Science Based Targets initiative: a 50 per cent reduction in Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 2030 (compared to a 2019 baseline), and achieving net-zero across Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 2040.

In 2022, Geotab’s total carbon emissions increased by 7.7 per cent compared to its 2019 baseline of 42,712 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). It saw a 4.4 per cent reduction in Scope 1 emissions and an 8.6 per cent increase in Scope 3 emissions.

Geotab’s Scope 3 emissions in 2019 were 41,572 CO2e and in 2022 that number increased to 45,153. Scope 3 emissions comprised 98 per cent of Geotab’s overall 2022 emissions.

“Now we're above the line (on Scope 3 emissions),” Van Kempen said. “I'm not overly worried about that because I believe that the trajectory will start to go back down once all the different supply chain customers start to reduce their emissions as well.”

In 2022, Geotab released its first GHG emissions report, separate from its 2021 ESG report. Geotab CEO Neil Cawse told SustainableBiz this decision resulted from a belief ESG reporting can sometimes dilute the message around emissions reductions.

Since beginning its supplier program, the company has seen an increase in Scope 3 emissions as more data is revealed. That work involved Geotab’s compliance team collaborating with suppliers.

“When we did our emissions the first year in 2019, we didn't have in such granular data that we have now,” Van Kempen said. 

“Because now that 50 per cent of our largest customers are reporting to CDP, it's allowing us to get more granular data, which actually is showing an increase as well, because before it was more generic based on the industry.”

Geotab’s own services provide avenues for decarbonization through data. The company conducted an EV suitability assessment for Enterprise Fleet Management with over 649,000 vehicles and found that 13 per cent of its vehicles were good candidates to be electrified, with a projected reduction of 194,000 tons of carbon dioxide over four years and savings of $33 million.

Geotab’s future plans

In November 2022, the company achieved a bronze ranking with EcoVadis, a methodology which scores companies on 21 sustainability criteria across four themes:

  • environment;
  • labour and human rights;
  • ethics, and
  • sustainable procurement.

Geotab is trying to increase its EcoVadis rank to silver. Van Kempen said the reassessment for the next rank will begin in June 2023.

Geotab also updated its recycling program. The company's headquarters had a waste diversion rate of 81.4 per cent – or 1,132 kilograms. Geotab aims to divert more than 90 per cent of its waste by 2030.

Used products are currently collected through a voluntary return program when they reach end-of-life. Geotab covers the shipping costs and then it ships them for recycling.

“What I'd like to see happen in the future is a circular program, so that we might look at a third-party company to take back these devices and see if there's a way we can actually have . . . a secondary market for the devices to be able to refurbish and send back out again. So that's something that's on my own personal goal list,” Van Kempen said.

Geotab aims to have 100 per cent renewable energy at its facilities by 2030.

As well, the report states a company goal to have 95 per cent of its 2,200-plus employees complete internal sustainability training by the end of 2023.

Although Cawse had previously told SustainableBiz the company would pursue LEED certification for its headquarters, Van Kempen was less sure. Geotab does not own its facilities and would have to rely on facility managers to seek such certifications.

“I feel like we're ahead of the curve, as far as a lot of private companies are concerned,” Van Kempen said. “Doing the part to start to reduce emissions is something we've been very anxious about doing ourselves.”

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