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Telematics provider Geotab achieves EcoVadis ranking

IMAGE: GeoTab CEO and founder Neil Cawse in front of company signage
Geotab CEO and founder Neil Cawse. (Courtesy Geotab Inc.)

Geotab Inc. has attained an EcoVadis bronze certification, adding another sustainability notch on its belt as it works towards a 50 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.

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 (EVs). It has offices in China, Singapore, France, Italy, Mexico, Australia, Spain, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. 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's fiscal 2022 revenue forecast is $666.9 million.

“I think one of the most critical things that we feel very strongly about is not greenwashing and not using our sustainability angle as a marketing ploy,” said Geotab’s founder and CEO Neil Cawse. “I think there's just too much making broad claims in this world about, ‘Yeah, we're gonna be sustainable,’ and then there's no substance behind it.”

“What was much less important to us was the marketing angle, to be honest. I'm not comfortable, truly, about the marketing angle at all. I'm much more comfortable about just getting on and doing it.”

The EcoVadis methodology scores companies on 21 sustainability criteria across four themes: environment, labour and human rights, ethics and sustainable procurement.

Founded in 2007 in Paris, it has rated over 100,000 companies.

Geotab also has a 2040 net-zero emissions goal.

Geotab and sustainability 

Geotab scored particularly well for its environmental practices by reporting on Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions; environmental policies on waste, energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG); measures to reuse or recycle waste; the purchase of renewable energy; employee awareness training on waste reduction; and commitments to the Science Based Targets initiative and We Mean Business Coalition.

The company has also signed the Climate Pledge.

Geotab assembled a "cross-functional team" focused on improving EcoVadis' areas of assessment. It took the company about six weeks to complete the assessment questionnaire, submitting it in June, and another four to six weeks for EcoVadis to validate that data.

The bronze ranking places Geotab in the top half of companies rated by the organization.

As an internet-of-things (IoT) hardware provider, one of Geotab’s biggest expenses is cloud services.

While it has partnered with Google thanks to what Cawse calls its green credentials, different jurisdictions will have different levels of renewable energy to use. Ontario’s electrical grid is largely clean, but Nevada is the opposite because of the lack of water in the U.S. state.

Generally, the company’s strategy is to favour areas with good energy policies, but that won’t stop it from entering areas where the firm feels it can make a difference in emissions.

“We have to be a little bit careful,” said Cawse, explaining Geotab wouldn’t decline to enter a new area less reliant on green energy if it might still be able to assist in carbon dioxide emission reductions.

“It's a balancing of risk (and) reward, right? We’re not looking at Geotab’s individual contribution to sustainability and going, ‘Oh, we've got to get our numbers down and we don't care about anything else.’ We care about the global sustainability.”

This year, Geotab released its first GHG emissions report, separate from its 2021 ESG report. Cawse said this decision resulted from a belief ESG reporting can sometimes dilute the message around emissions reductions.

Its total emissions across all three scopes in 2021 were 36,583 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e), compared to 42,712 CO2e in 2019, marking a 14 per cent drop.

Scope 3 comprised the vast majority of emissions at 97.4 per cent. Within that sphere purchased goods and services contributed the majority of Scope 3 emissions at 91.7 per cent. It is targeting 20,894 CO2e by 2030.

Geotab’s sustainable future

Geotab has a number of solutions focused on reducing emissions, including the EV Suitability Assessment, Green Fleet Dashboard, fuel usage and idling reports, routing optimization, Geotab Keyless and the Fleet Electrification Knowledge Center. 

According to Cawse, the company product team’s biggest focus is in customer sustainability. While there are solutions dedicated to EVs, not everyone is going to have an electric fleet any time soon, so Geotab combined its fuel team with its sustainability team to focus on improving fuel utilization and therefore, emissions reductions.

“We can go in and we can help them reduce the idling, we can help them optimize their option to reduce the fuel costs, we can make them pick the right vehicles for the right jobs and improve utilization,” he said. “All of those things will help with the reducing the amount of carbon that we can build into the product.”

Geotab is considering pursuing LEED certification for its Oakville headquarters. Cawse hopes Geotab can implement an automated dashboard for the facility to track live emissions, vehicle tracking and shipments for the company.

“Not all of the data we can have completely live, but the goal is to move to having that data live so that we can get that instant feedback,” he said. “That instant feedback will allow you to then make smarter decisions.”

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