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Apr 2024 / Blog

With the introduction of Wales’ workplace recycling rules this month, alongside wider plans for achieving net zero, sustainability within Welsh businesses has never been more in the spotlight. 

If you’re struggling to get your head around the terminology, let alone the steps you need to take for lasting positive change, then you’re not alone. 

ACT, Wales’ leading training provider, has launched a suite of courses and qualifications to help businesses not only understand their environmental impact but also to support them in implementing processes and procedures that will boost their sustainability and save money. 

We’ve put together a brief guide to some of the key terms you may have heard surrounding sustainability and the environment. These are just some of the topics we explore in much greater detail within our work-based learning courses. 

Carbon footprint 

A carbon footprint is the measurement of greenhouse gases (also known as GHG) that are released into the atmosphere by a single person, business or community. 

Carbon offset 

Carbon offset is used, particularly in a commercial setting, as a way of compensating for emissions by investing in projects that have a positive impact on the environment – meaning that the bad – theoretically – cancels out by the good. These projects could include investing in renewable energy or supporting forest preservation. While it has good intentions, carbon offsetting is often seen as the ‘final resort’ within sustainability practices as rather than preventing or cutting emissions it is balancing a negative with a positive. 

Carbon neutral 

Carbon neutral is often the outcome of carbon offsetting, it is the result of a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere through positive investments in things like reforestation, carbon-storing agricultural practices, and waste management. 

Net zero 

Not to be confused with ‘carbon neutral’, net zero refers to no carbon being emitted from an individual, company, community or – even – country. This means that unlike being carbon neutral no carbon needs to be captured or offset in order to balance out the total amount of emissions. 


ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance and are the three main non-financial aspects of a company that positively and/or negatively impact the community it serves.  

Organisations are expected to monitor their ESG to ensure they are maintaining a standard when it comes to things such as pollution, recycling, labour laws, health and safety and anti-corruption. 

Zero waste 

Zero waste refers to the act of minimising single-use plastic either as a consumer and as an organisation. This means replacing plastic packaging with either reuseable or more sustainable options. Zero waste options can be found in food and drink, household items, clothing and hygiene products. 

Circular economy 

While zero waste is the act of avoiding wasteful packaging, circular economy is a system where materials never become waste (or single use) in the first place. In a circular economy, products and materials are kept in circulation through reuse, refurbishment, remanufacture and recycling. Examples include turning organic waste into biofuel or compost, and upcycling items such as old tyres into plant pots or bags. 


CSR refers to corporate social responsibility, a self-regulated business model that aims to ensure an organisation is socially accountable not just to its customers, staff and stakeholders but to the wider public. 

A company’s CSR covers things such as the ethicality of its financial investments, how involved it is within its community and how it is using its power for positive change. 


Greenwashing is the process of conveying a misleading impression about how a company or its products are environmentally positive. This is often seen in the way items are packaged or marketed with use of green colours, environmental buzzwords or figures that can be misconstrued. 

If you’re looking to make positive change within your organisation and get to grips with the latest corporate rules and responsibilities, a fully-funded qualification with ACT can help. 

Get in touch today.