April 21, 2021 • Environment5 min read

Carbon offsetting - a short-term solution to a long-term strategy | City Pantry

Earth Day takes place on 22nd April, so we wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how we’re reducing and offsetting our carbon emissions.

As Earth Day approaches, we wanted to give you an update on what City Pantry is doing to make our service as sustainable as possible. One of the ways we’re currently doing that is through carbon offsetting, which helps us to take responsibility for our carbon emissions while we continue to work on ways to effectively reduce them over time.

What is carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting allows companies to take responsibility for the carbon emissions produced by their business activities that are either difficult or impossible to avoid. They do this by supporting projects that reduce carbon emissions internationally, which ‘balances out’ some or all of their own emissions - kind of like a seesaw effect. 

In short, carbon offsetting is an internationally recognised way of taking responsibility for unavoidable carbon emissions.

The types of projects that companies fund can be quite varied but may include:

- Tree planting or forest protection

- Installing renewable energy technologies

- Delivering energy-efficient home appliances to communities

Why are we offsetting our emissions?

Since December 2020, we’ve been working with leading carbon offset provider ClimateCare to offset the emissions we emit as a result of delivering food to offices*. 

We’re doing this while we continue to work on ways to reduce our direct carbon emissions - like partnering with eco-friendly delivery companies, for example. But effectively reducing our own emissions takes time. So, while we continue to work on that, we’re doing the next best thing.

We choose to work with ClimateCare because of their reputation as expert providers of climate neutral solutions for both private and public-sector organisations. Their core mission of improving lives and tackling climate change aligns strongly with our own ethos and we’re delighted to be partnering with them to deliver our carbon offset programme.

As well as being a profit-for-purpose Certified B Corporation, ClimateCare became the UK’s first CDP accredited Carbon Reduction Partner in 2021. ClimateCare also works with leading international standards, such as Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard, to independently verify the carbon emission reductions delivered through their projects.

In addition to tackling climate change, ClimateCare’s programmes improve lives and contribute to delivering the UN Global Goals.

We’re supporting the following projects through ClimateCare:

Wind farms in Maharashtra, India

Wind farms displace the need for electricity generated by fossil fuel-powered plants, which reduces CO2 emissions, increases air quality, and creates new jobs in predominantly rural areas.

Bondhu chula stoves in Bangladesh

Traditional cooking methods in Bangladesh involve using open fire pits, which release smoke and particulate pollutants and tragically contribute to thousands of premature deaths a year. The Bondhu Chula, created by the Bangladesh Bondhu Foundation, is a combustion chamber designed to ensure a more efficient burn. It reduces fuel use and the chimney takes harmful pollutants out of the house. 

Carbon finance is used to subsidise the cost of installation, after-sales service, and training programmes for local entrepreneurs.

This project has reduced emissions by 286,000 tonnes so far.

Gyapa stoves in Ghana

The Gyapa is an efficient stove that cooks food more quickly, using 46% less fuel than traditional methods or open fires used by 80% of the population in Ghana. The Gyapa is also less smoky, which reduces exposure to toxic fumes. 

Through Carbon Finance, ClimateCare is working to ensure quality control, improve manufacturing techniques, and build a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Kumasi.

Not only has this project reduced over 4 million tonnes of CO2 so far, but it’s also created meaningful jobs for the community as the stoves are made and distributed locally.

What’s our long-term strategy?

Carbon offsetting has its place, but ultimately we don’t want to rely on it forever.

While carbon offsetting aims to help companies take immediate responsibility for their carbon footprint, some may use it as an easy way out. But we’re not looking for that. We want to work towards reducing our own emissions, so eventually we don’t need to offset as much.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been working with eco-friendly delivery companies to reduce our carbon footprint. Back in 2019, we partnered with Urb-it, an eco-friendly delivery company that uses a fleet of eco-certified walkers, cyclists, and cargo-bikers rather than cars and vans. Then, in November 2020, we teamed up with another e-cargo bike company called Pedal Me. By the end of 2021, we aim to double the percentage of our office deliveries that are facilitated by zero-emissions vehicles (or by foot, if you take Urb-it into account!).

And we haven’t stopped there. By optimising delivery methods and introducing our new recyclable delivery boxes back in September 2020, we were able to cut driving hours by up to 850 per week, significantly reducing the emissions emitted through non-electric car and van deliveries.

As a team full of people passionate about creating positive change, we’re continually looking for and developing new ways to make City Pantry a more sustainable service for the planet and people. 

*Please note that we don’t currently offset emissions produced by deliveries facilitated by our vendor partners. We currently offset the office deliveries that we facilitate ourselves, which over the past year has made up 94% of our overall office deliveries.

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If you’d like to keep up with all our People & Planet initiatives, check out our Corporate Social Responsibility page.