Emission impossible: how one B Corp is actively removing carbon from the atmosphere
Propellernet is going beyond net zero to target negative emissions.
Propellernet is a digital marketing agency helping brands to grow their business online with sustainable strategies. We caught up with Sam Zindel, Co-Managing Director, to find out about their journey to drastically reducing their emissions.
How have you embarked on measuring your emissions?
We began by engaging an IEMA accredited third party to audit our carbon emissions across scopes 1, 2 and 3. Two key findings came out of this assessment:
- 86% of our footprint is in our purchased goods and services – otherwise known as scope 3 or supply chain emissions. This means we need to prioritise collaboration with our suppliers to transition to net zero. We have already switched some of our office services to new, greener providers and are about to engage with more of our suppliers – those responsible for the largest proportion of our carbon footprint – to find ways to help them reduce their emissions.
- We realised that as a digital, service sector business our carbon footprint is low (under 100 CO2e tons a year). On paper, getting to net zero emissions is an easier task for us than for larger businesses in hard to abate sectors. For a business of our size and sector, we realised that targeting negative emissions was a far more appropriate goal than reaching net zero. This means working to actively remove the excessive levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses currently present in our atmosphere through carbon sequestering projects.
Is your organisation already reducing emissions across all scopes?
Yes, across all scopes. We are close to 100% reduction in scopes 1 and 2. We are only starting out on scope 3, targeting 50% reduction by the end of March 2023.
What three actions are underway in your organisations to reduce emissions now?
We moved to 100% renewable energy in March 2021 (-12% reduction of our total footprint) and are working to achieve zero waste to landfill in office facilities. We also advised switching to ethical pension plans for all employees (it is hard to measure the precise reduction, but you can get a better idea of the impact this can have here).
What steps have you taken to remove carbon from the atmosphere?
We will plant 1 million trees in Gold Standard accredited reforestation projects by the end of 2023. In 11 months we have planted over 200,000 Mangroves in Madagascar. “Blue Carbon” reductions such as mangrove forests are 5-10 times more effective than traditional tree planting for removing carbon from the atmosphere.
We co-founded milliontreepledge.org to support other businesses to do the same. We now have over 30 pledgers who will plant a million trees each by 2030. This number is growing monthly and we aim to have over 100 companies signed up by the end of 2021.
100% of our staff voluntarily pay a percentage of their salary each month towards climate restoration, which the business matches in an initiative we call 'pension for the planet'. This has been a great way to engage the team on our climate work. We are now drafting a plan to engage our clients in a similar way called 'partnership for the planet'. We visualise our tree planting on local maps with green spaces like parks and sports fields to help the team understand the scale of our planting.
We bought 7.5 acres of rainforest via World Land Trust to protect it from avoidable deforestation and are currently assessing sea kelp and ocean restoration projects to expand our support for natural climate solutions.
What are you most proud of or inspired by from your work towards Net Zero?
Our investment (around 1.5% of revenue) in natural climate restoration projects is really exciting. With a low carbon footprint to reduce, negative emissions is an appropriate goal for us. We call this 'sub zero not net zero'.
What are your plans for 2022 to further reduce your emissions?
We plan to host stakeholder workshops and collaborations with our suppliers, in addition to continuing reduction plans for our office environment and now remote working as well.
What advice would you like to offer other businesses on their climate journey?