How 3Degrees helped Etsy lead e-commerce towards carbon neutral shipping

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Etsy offsets 100 percent of shipping emissions.

This article is sponsored by 3Degrees.

Etsy, the global marketplace for unique and creative goods, is committed to using the power of business to strengthen communities and empower people. As Etsy works to connect millions of buyers and sellers around the world and advances its mission of keeping commerce human, the company faces a unique set of challenges for managing carbon impacts and fostering responsible resource use.

Key challenges

Etsy is committed to building long-term climate resilience across its operations. It has set ambitious targets to power its offices and computing infrastructure with 100 percent renewable electricity, and running zero waste operations by 2020. However, 98 percent of Etsy’s carbon impact in 2018 stemmed from items shipped from Etsy sellers to Etsy buyers. 

To achieve those targets, Etsy sought to mitigate this carbon impact through verified emissions reductions — with an eye to catalyzing broader industry change. It also has identified a number of additional levers that it hopes can drive carbon reduction longer term, including policy advocacy, vendor negotiation and peer collaboration.

How we helped

3Degrees helped Etsy to identify a portfolio of emission reduction projects to meet its desire for immediate action while fostering more sustainable shipping solutions for the future.

The key elements of the Etsy program designed by 3Degrees are:

  • Environmental integrity. This is the most fundamental aspect of the program design and a core element of every carbon offset sold by 3Degrees. Environmental integrity generally can be broken down into two main components: "additionality," the notion that the emission reductions would not have been achieved without the promise of funding from carbon offset sales, and rigorous and conservative quantification of the actual emission reductions achieved. All 3Degrees projects are registered under internationally recognized standards maintained by not-for-profit environmental organizations, including the American Carbon Registry (ACR), Climate Action Reserve (CAR), Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). These standards require that project emission reductions are monitored and quantified on a regular basis and that this quantification and project additionality are independently verified by accredited third parties.
  • Impactful and unique projects to address GHG emissions. Leveraging 3Degrees’ proprietary project portfolio and experience address in transportation emissions, Etsy’s initial investment is supporting four unique projects. Over time, Etsy’s emission reduction investments will support the development of new projects that provide similar impact.
  • Strengthen communities. Etsy’s emission reduction projects provide co-benefits important to human health, well-being and the livelihood of local communities. These projects reduce local air pollution, improve water quality and security and promote biodiversity. The portfolio also includes projects that support renewable energy markets and transportation sector emission reductions.

Results

  • Starting in 2019, Etsy is offsetting the emissions from its global supply chain, specifically emissions created when sellers on its global marketplace ship items to buyers.
  • Etsy’s program is notable for taking voluntary action to address emissions on behalf of its sellers and also makes Etsy the first major online shopping destination to offset 100 percent of its shipping emissions.
  • All offset projects provide co-benefits critical to human health, well-being and the livelihoods of local communities.

Project Spotlight: UPM Blandin Native American Hardwoods Conservation Project

Investing in sustainable forest management

UPM Blandin Forestry manages 187,876 acres of native, mixed hardwood forests in Minnesota that supply timber to the UPM Blandin paper mill. The company is committed to sustainable management of these acres and the resulting products. Blandin’s SmartForestrySM practices protect the diversity of natural forest communities, align management with ecological regimes and reduce harvest impacts. All UPM-Blandin Forestland is Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified, and all Blandin products are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

UPM Blandin sustainable forestry project, Minnesota. Source: Richard Hamilton Smith.

In 2010, working with nonprofit partners and the state of Minnesota, Blandin signed a conservation easement that grants public access in perpetuity, guarantees the property always will remain forest and that it will be managed under sustainable practices. This sustainable practice improves carbon dioxide sequestration by the forest which, in turn, is credited under the methodology.

Throughout the span of the carbon offset project, the property will remain a working forest that produces sustainable pulpwood, saw logs and other high-value forest products for the regional forest industry. The forest supplies 17 facilities in Minnesota, supporting more than 3,200 working families and hundreds more in related businesses.

Supporting Blandin’s conservation efforts provides important co-benefits for the local communities. This forest provides water quality protection, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities for the public. The forest protects a diverse suite of wildlife, including 30 miles of state designated trout streams, 47 species of birds and over 30 species of mammals including black bear, grey wolf and moose.

Standard: American Carbon Registry (ACR)

Co-Benefits: Improved local air quality, public use and recreation, biodiversity/habitat.

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