Carbon Offsets Aren't Just Thin Air for Business Travelers

New research from the Global Business Travel Association finds that most European companies require some kind of sustainability clause in their travel contracts. The U.S. lags behind, but even here, the trend is growing.

When it comes to your annual meeting, are you thinking sustainably?

If so, you’re part of a bigger trend in the corporate travel world. According to new research from the GBTA Foundation, an education and research offshoot of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), many companies are becoming increasingly focused on the issue—especially abroad.

According to the study of nearly 300 U.S. and European-based travel managers, sponsored by the rental-car conglomerate Enterprise Holdings, 57 percent of Europe-based companies include sustainability in their corporate travel policies, a massive jump from an estimated 39 percent in 2012.

U.S.-based companies are improving on this front as well, albeit more modestly. The research found that 19 percent of companies are including sustainability clauses this year, a jump from 11 percent in 2011.

One thing that companies were keeping an eye on, no matter the ultimate goal? Air travel. Among companies keeping an eye on their environmental footprint, 96 percent of European companies and and 92 percent of U.S. companies are focused on the impact their air-travel can have on the environment. This dovetails neatly into the popularity of carbon offsets, which remain popular with corporations, even as the offsets are seen as a niche product for most travelers.

That said, the reasons for sustainability differ, depending on the region of the world.

“Overall, sustainability initiatives appear to be more integrated in Europe-based organizations, with opportunity for improvement among U.S.-based organizations,” GBTA Foundation Vice President of Research Joseph Bates explained in a news release. “We found that European companies are focused on efforts that result in both financial and environmental benefits, while American companies have a strong focus on the human relations aspect of sustainability.”

So, in other words, some are in it for the cost, while others are in it for the good PR. The study found that more than 40 percent of both European and U.S. companies believe that the corporate travel moves have generally improved company image, employee morale, and/or business processes.


The Oregon Business Travel Association is committed to supporting and facilitating sustainable practices to help ensure less impact to the environment.
 Green travel is an overarching term used to describe responsible travel practices that focus on economic, socio-cultural, and environmental sustainability. Green travel is about making sure that travelers choose businesses, tour operators, and transportation methods that maintain and preserve the ecological integrity of the environment and contribute to local community development; meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of current or future generations. Green travel encompasses on six main factors:

  1. Modes of transportation. Consider walking or cycling during your trip, using public transportation, renting hybrid vehicles, and traveling by train rather than plane whenever possible.

  2. Offsets and environmental policy. Calculate and offset the carbon dioxide emitted by your travel and buy your trip from companies with policies that consider environmental, economic, and socio-cultural impacts.

  3. Dollars spent locally. Ensure that local people benefit from your trip by spending money in community or locally owned businesses and working with tour operators and lodges that employ local people.

  4. Environmental conservation. Choose a trip that strengthens the conservation efforts for and enhances the natural integrity of the places you visit, including protected areas and wildlife habitats.

  5. Respect for local culture. Immerse yourself in and accept the differences of other cultures...learning about their customs and social norms before you visit, and speaking their language when possible.

  6. Natural resource use. Reduce, reuse, and recycle...and consider the efficient use of water, energy, and building materials as well as the method of waste disposal used by your tour operator or lodging establishment.

Study: Sustainability Becoming Priority for Corporate Travel Policy


Sustainability Trivia

It has been estimated that recycling, re-use, and composting create ____ times as many jobs as waste incineration and landfills.
A: 6-10
Sustainability Trivia:
Q: Airports and airlines recycle less than what percent of the 425,000 tons of passenger-related waste they produce each year?

A: 20%
Sustainability Trivia:

Q: The average American office worker uses approximately how many disposable cups every year?

A: 500
Sustainability Trivia:       

Q: How many trees does it take to make one ton of office paper?A: 24
Find out more here.

 Sustainability Trivia:

Q: Glass containers recycled in the U.S. in 2004 would fill 103,333 tractor trailers.  Bumper to

bumper they would stretch from ________ to ________!

A: Los Angeles to Dallas


 Sustainability Trivia:

Q: True or False - New McDonald's restaurants in Sweden are built mostly our of recycled materials and serve organic milk and beef.A: True--
Sustainability Trivia:

Q: Americans buy and throw away 500 million                 every year?
A: Cigarette Lighters



Sustainability Trivia:

  Q: The amount of tress required to make 1 ton of office paper is               ?A: 24 


Sustainability Trivia:

Q: Your house causes 2 times the green house gas emissions of a car.  True or false? 
A: True


Sustainability Trivia:

Q: Every year, we make enough plastic film to shrink wrap what US State?

A: Texas


 Sustainability Trivia:

Q: One billion trees are cut down each year to make what? 
A: Disposable Diapers!


Sustainability Trivia:

Q: If everyone in America changed one light in their house to a fluorescent bulb, how many additional houses could be powered? 
A: 3 million!

TSA Enrollment Video - Benefits of membership