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Carbon footprint is our collective responsibility


In three years' time, the number of companies in Poland obliged to publish non-financial data could reach 3,500. For the vast majority of even the large players, the 2026 report may be a complete debut and therefore quite a challenge on the organisational side. Undisputedly, one of the most difficult issues for reporters will be the carbon footprint calculation. Fortunately, the deadline is still quite far away - almost 1,000 days allows for solid preparation.

The EU  Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) in the first years will formally cover companies that meet two of the following three criteria:

  1. balance sheet total: EUR 25 m
  2. revenue: EUR 50 m
  3. average number of employees: 250.

However, the scope of mandatory disclosures will not only apply to large companies. It will also cover the impact of their value chain in the area of emissions or human rights, among other things. In order to fulfil their obligation, these actors will start to expect their suppliers to be more committed to environmental protection on the one hand, and to provide reliable data on the other. Small and medium-sized enterprises can therefore be expected to remain under disproportionate pressure. Many of them - lacking the experience and often human resources - will face the challenge of reporting their impact in a systematic way in line with their clients' expectations.

Dialogue and the engagement of all parties is necessary for this process to work well. Large companies should not limit themselves to setting expectations for smaller partners. Indeed, their role is to provide real support both in the reporting process and in making changes to adapt to the environment - in social, environmental and legal terms.

Such a role is part of the Raben Group Sustainability Strategy, which is still in force and which, among other things, ambitiously obliges 77% of our carriers to measure their emissions by 2027 and, in the next step, to set their own reduction targets. Identifying the risks involved, we are already exploring the possibility of introducing a system to support our suppliers in the area of carbon footprint calculation in a way that places as little formal burden on them as possible.

Firstly - where?

Regardless of the available tools and the provided support, mapping the sources of emissions is key as a first step. This knowledge helps to understand how the whole calculation process should be planned: how and what data should be sourced, where it is in the organisation, and which data is most important to set reduction targets, and then how these targets can be achieved. In short: the company needs to identify the sources and size of its emissions and where the opportunity for success is greatest. In the case of transport, this could be, for instance, changing the type of fuel, replacing vehicles with newer ones or switching to zero-emission transport.

In this context, new technologies deserve special attention. One of the solutions being tested at Rabem Group are electric trailers that use stored kinetic and potential energy to support, among other things, traditional propulsion, resulting in lower fuel consumption.

Secondly - how?

Calculating emissions, while seeming the most problematic part of reporting, does not need to be so at all. This issue depends, of course, on the size of the company and how complex its emission sources are. However, it is worth noting that small and medium-sized enterprises produce a carbon footprint primarily in terms of Scope 1 and Scope 2, with supplier emissions typically representing a less significant share of the emissions mix. Thus, it is not uncommon for SMEs to already have all the data they need to make a reliable and credible calculation.

In transport companies, the emissions belonging to Scope 1 are largely the result of fuel combustion, i.e. diesel, gas or biofuel, or electricity consumption (for electric vehicles). They can therefore be considered to be 'embedded', as it were, to the amount of fuel or energy purchased and consumed. In this business, the recording of purchased fuel or vehicle mileage is usually a necessary formality, so the collection of data for reporting purposes should not be an additional burden.

The selection of an appropriate carbon footprint calculation tool will be as important a step as the identification of emission sources and data. There are both free and paid tools available on the market, the implementation of which can be considered depending on the size and operations of the organisation. Commercial and non-commercial calculators include databases of indicators that are worth looking at when choosing a tool. Those designed for the transport sector generally allow emissions to be calculated on the basis of the amount of fuel purchased or estimated based on the number of kilometres driven. If a carrier uses temperature-controlled trailers, the size of the carbon footprint can also be influenced by purchased energy, fuel or refrigerant consumption.

Thirdly - when?

Here we come to the stage that can be most challenging. The methodology for counting the carbon footprint is developed and available but adapting it to the company's situation is only half the battle. The reporting process also requires people to be able to conduct and document all activities appropriately. Any reporting requires regularity, so here too, it will be important to be meticulous and timely in collecting and processing data, without putting it off until the last minute. The knowledge and experience of the staff can also help with proper communication. Many small and medium-sized companies do not have well-developed structures responsible for PR or public affairs, and the report is a specific form of information delivery. Adopting the wrong strategy can result in accusations of greenwashing and, consequently, damage a company's reputation and credibility.

Reporting emissions or other impact data is a new thing, prepared according to seemingly complicated rules, but this awareness should not be discouraged. Entities in the transport sector have repeatedly proven their agility and adaptability. The good news in this situation is also that there is still some time for both small and large companies to adapt to the requirements of the directive. Furthermore, seeing ESG as a shared responsibility between small and medium-sized enterprises can be an opportunity to build long-term and sustainable business relationships based on mutual trust.


Piotr Lachowicz

Group Sustainability Expert

Raben Group