Are Carbon-Neutral, Net-Zero, and Carbon Positive the Same Thing?

In recent years, it’s become more and more common for companies to publicly pledge their commitment toward environmentally friendly initiatives that reduce their carbon footprint. However, these statements alone are not adequate. Companies need to take action as soon as possible to minimize the effects of climate change. 

While employees and consumers generally support an eco-friendly business model, many are confused about the wide variety of emerging terms related to climate change. Those unfamiliar with these terms, including carbon-neutral, net-zero, and carbon positive, can easily mistake them for marketing gimmicks. Some sources also use these terms interchangeably, which only increases the confusion. But today, we’ll clarify these terms so that business owners and individuals can use them properly, and we’ll share a few ways that companies can take action to reduce harmful carbon emissions to create a better future for the entire planet.

Carbon-Neutral, Net-Zero, and Carbon Positive: What’s the Difference?

Many sources use these terms similarly, each has a different definition, and each relates to one another. If you’re a little confused about the difference between these concepts, consult the definitions below for clarification.


If a company is carbon-neutral, it means that the amount of carbon that its process emits is equal to the amount of carbon that the atmosphere absorbs. For a company to become carbon neutral, it must reduce its carbon emissions. After their carbon emissions are as low as possible, these companies typically invest in “carbon offsets,” such as planting trees. 

Carbon Net-Zero

Not to be confused with carbon-neutral, carbon net-zero refers to carbon emissions on a much larger scale. The term “carbon net-zero” is directly related to a global state in which the number of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere is less than the amount that carbon sinks remove from the atmosphere. Recent studies state that carbon emission levels must fall to net-zero by 2050. Essentially, global warming is directly proportional to the number of carbon emissions, and the climate will continue to heat rapidly if carbon emissions continue to rise.

Carbon Positive

As companies keep track of their carbon emissions, it’s become clear that “carbon positive” is not a phrase they would like to have associated with their business. If a company is considered carbon positive, its annual carbon emissions are above zero, which has a negative impact on the environment. In contrast, “climate positive” companies have carbon emissions that fall below zero.

How Can Businesses Reduce Their Carbon Footprint?

As businesses realize the importance of reducing their carbon footprint and becoming carbon-neutral, many wonder how they can get started today. The following eco-friendly initiatives will allow your company to become carbon neutral.

Become Zero Waste

The current methods that companies use to produce, transport, consume, and dispose of materials are responsible for 42% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. When companies of any size implement initiatives to reduce waste, there is an immediate positive impact on the environment. 

To transform your business into a zero-waste company, you must assess the company’s overall waste generation and work with professionals to eliminate waste. The primary source of environmental toxins is electronic waste, also known as e-waste. E-waste is any unwanted electronic device, such as cell phones, laptops, televisions, printers, etc. Humans generate about 50 million tons of e-waste per year, which equates to throwing out 1,000 laptops every second, but your company can help reduce e-waste by working with a certified e-waste recycling company.

A reputable e-waste recycling company will help you audit all the electronic devices your company currently owns and where they are in their life cycle. From there, e-waste recyclers will safely dispose of unwanted electronics while also wiping any sensitive information from those devices, ensuring that your company’s data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. 

Harness Renewable Energy Sources

In recent years, renewable energy sources have become more attractive to individuals and companies due to rising energy costs and concerns regarding climate change. Fossil fuels are a limited resource, and it appears that global climate change regulations will dramatically impact how companies conduct business in the near future. While using renewable resources reduces your company’s carbon footprint and allows your company to stand amongst competitors when these new policies become the norm.

Although the initial investment may appear steep, your business will save significant money in the long run. Solar panels are the easiest option to install if you are interested in purchasing renewable energy equipment for your company. Not only do solar panels supply your company with a sustainable energy source, but installing these panels may also allow your business to qualify for a federal tax credit.

If your company does not own property, you always have the option to purchase renewable energy from your power supplier. In some countries, businesses have the opportunity to choose their energy supplier. If you are in a state that has multiple electricity suppliers to choose from, select a company that harnesses renewable energy to reduce your company’s carbon footprint.

Educate and Engage Employees

One of the vital components to becoming an eco-friendly, carbon-neutral company is employee education. As the general public becomes aware of dismal climate change forecasts, your employees may quickly fall into “climate despair,” which is the sense that people are powerless to prevent the effects of climate change. These intense feelings prevent individuals and businesses from taking action to reduce their carbon footprint.

However, companies can help employees understand that they have the power to change the environment for the better. To get started, take the initiative to educate your entire organization about the importance of carbon accountability and your company’s new eco-friendly policies and procedures.

Inspire your entire workforce by encouraging input regarding energy-saving ideas in meetings. Companies with the financial resources may consider implementing a corporate matching program in which companies match employee contributions towards environmental non-profits. Some companies also use carbon tracking subscription services to improve carbon accountability.

Become a Carbon-Neutral Company with First America

Given the available resources, companies no longer need to sacrifice efficiency or profit to reduce their carbon footprint. Becoming carbon-neutral will reduce your company’s carbon footprint, cut energy costs, and enhance your company’s reputation as an eco-friendly company that consumers can trust. If you’re ready to become a carbon-neutral company, partner with an e-waste recycling company you can trust.

First America has over 30 years of experience helping businesses safely and responsibly recycle their outdated devices. Our high level of expertise and exceptional customer service have built our reputation as an industry leader, and we are committed to exceeding each client’s needs and expectations.

Want to recycle your old devices with confidence? Contact First America today for e-waste disposal that’s ethical and secure.

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