Net Zero Issue 2

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Business success in a net zero world

DRIVEN BY SUSTAINABILITY The e-scooter company on a mission to make the UK’s cities greener

Meet SMEs on their journey to net zero LeZero: international electric motor rally Guide to low-risk carbon offsetting 1

Seed Renewables provides a nationwide turnkey solution for all renewable energy requirements, helping clients achieve NetZero goals... Design and installation of complete renewable energy systems

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Roof Mounted Solar Arrays

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Battery Storage

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Car Charging

Large Scale Solar Schemes

Welcome Net Zero from Blue Marble is a journal providing businesses with useful information to help them reduce their carbon impact on their way to net zero


s we publish this second issue of Net Zero, increasing numbers of businesses are implementing their net zero strategy. At Blue Marble we’re seeing it in action as companies build long-term value into their businesses by investigating their supply chains and making appropriate changes. Similarly, an awareness of a product’s environmental impact is now being woven into every level of its design. This kind of future-proofing is essential, even for those businesses not yet impacted by carbon-focused legislation. As part of this businesses are

using carbon offsetting, yet this can often be problematic. Get the low-down in our guide on page 20. As procurement and tender requirements give more weight to environmental credentials, access to robust carbon accounting is essential. Fortunately, data and reporting is becoming more accurate, helping us advise clients on the most effective solutions. There’s a long way to go on our shared journey to net zero, but the strategy is taking effect and every business is now involved. If you’d like our help with your business’ journey, drop us a line.

Inside 4

Henry Waite, founder

18 Solar solutions

From ballet to rally

20 Guide to carbon offsetting

10 Shore-fire fix

26 Branch to bottle

14 Driven by sustainability

30 Meet the team

16 Food for thought

34 Glossary

The contents of this magazine are fully protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without permission. While every effort has been made to ensure that adverts, details and articles appear correctly, Blue Marble cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by the contents of this publication. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of its publisher or editor. Produced for Blue Marble by


Net Zero | Issue 2


l l e a t bto

Clara in Sharm El-Sheik and as a professional ballet dancer (inset above)

Former The Royal Ballet dancer Clara Stone is co-founder of a groundbreaking new event called LeZero, an international carbon-zero motor rally that promises petrol-head fun without the pollution 4

From ballet to rally


s a professional dancer with The Royal Ballet company, Clara Stone performed in some of the most famous works (including Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty) and embodied the choreography of titans such as Kenneth MacMillan and Frederick Ashton. At the end of each evening’s performance, she would ferry her colleagues home in her beloved, if beaten-up, 12-seater Land Rover – a 21st birthday gift from her father, who also bequeathed her a life-long love of classic vehicles.

In contrast, Challengers will set off a week later and face the additional challenges of timed and speed sections – similar to the traditional rally format – at Bresse in particular. Challengers will be required to complete the event in eight days from specific locations and with set start and finish times each day.

‘It was a fabulously funky little truck; we put artificial grass inside,’ laughs Clara. ‘It was solid and sexy and could go anywhere.’ Three decades later, Clara’s involved in a very different kind of vehicular adventure as one of the founders of LeZero, a motorsport event for electric vehicles. With a strapline of ‘maximum adventure, zero carbon’, it aims to deliver petrol-head fun without the petrol.

The event has been timed to be a lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28) which begins on November 30 in Dubai. LeZero was designed not only to give EV owners a piece of the action, but also to show prospective buyers the untapped potential of green motoring. ‘Most people who have an EV use it to go to the supermarket or to pick up their kids,’ says Clara. ‘And some people are fearful of buying one because of “range anxiety”. I wanted to show that you can go further than that – you just need to plan a bit.’

‘Maximum adventure, zero carbon’ In November, climate-conscious drivers will face the challenge of driving from Paris to Prosecco – the wine-growing region north of Venice – in electric vehicles. The teams that complete the journey with the lowest carbon ratio emissions will take the prizes. The 1,300km route starts at Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, with pit stops at the Circuit de Bresse, Beaune, Lausanne, Davos and Innsbruck before reaching the finish line in Solighetto.

The seed of the idea was planted following lockdown, when Clara was made redundant from a position in event management. A conversation with friend – and now business partner – Robert Clarke led her to join him on a few rallies.

Entrants will compete in two categories: Adventurers will leave Paris on November 12, with teams of two (driver and navigator) completing the prescribed route at their own pace, aiming to cross the finish line on November 25. It’s a relatively relaxed affair: ‘Bring your dog, bring your gran, take your time, just arrive by that date,’ says Clara.

The experience of a rally passing through town can be exhilarating: humming engines, the smell of petrol and leather. ‘They are beautiful, but also noisy and polluting. One day, Robert received two items of post: one was an invitation to an event at Silverstone, the other a flyer about the ice shelves collapsing. It was a turning point for him,’ says Clara.

‘He had beautiful cars he used to rally in and asked if I’d ever tried navigating. I studied and got my licence, we did a few and had planned to do more, then the pandemic hit. And that’s when we started thinking about this idea.’


Net Zero | Issue 2

Clara at the start line in Glasgow for EnviroDrive, a solo trip to Sharm El-Sheik


From ballet to rally

‘At the time, a few owners were starting to convert their classic cars to cleaner fuels. There has been an explosion in this field over the last four years, just as there has been in new electric vehicles. We thought we could tap into what was happening and be the crossover between the world we’re in and the one we’d like to create.’

‘We thought we could be the crossover between the world we’re in and the one we’d like to create’

Their first venture was EnviroDrive, a solo trip for Clara from Glasgow to Sharm El-Sheik – the host cities of COP 26 and COP 27 – passing through 11 countries in 18 days. Along the way, she dropped in on companies, organisations, institutions and innovators playing their part in creating a greener world.

This system is now being carried through to LeZero, with entrants encouraged to input simple data each day, and given advice on eco-friendly accommodation and businesses able to provide support. All transportation within the race, including ferry, train and plane trips, will be calculated and added to the overall emissions. For Challenger participants, time controls will be placed along the routes, with carbon points added for early or late arrival.

Her vehicle of choice was a Kia Niro, and it did her proud. ‘I only faced running out of charge once, and that was getting to Glasgow – I hadn’t allowed for the hills,’ she laughs. ‘I stuck mostly to motorways. LeZero will be much more scenic.’ She didn’t know it then, but it was the perfect trial run for LeZero. ‘It proved it could be done in the face of range anxiety, and made us realise it was something we could and should do as an annual event to highlight the COP event.’

The teams that undertake the most carbon efficient journeys will win a prize, although all entrants will be given a certificate detailing their performances and highlighting areas for improvement. ‘Blue Marble saw what we wanted to do, embraced it and worked out a system that suited us, and which could work as a template for other events,’ says Clara. ‘It’s brilliant.’

A major part of the journey was the carbon accounting, which is where Blue Marble came in. Every aspect of Clara’s journey – where she stayed, who she visited, what she ate and drank – was documented and analysed using an algorithmic system to calculate the total carbon footprint of her journey.

The event is open to all kinds of vehicles, be it a Renault Zoe or a converted classic Porsche, as long as it can handle narrow windy roads and tunnels. Numbers are limited for several reasons, not least the infrastructure.

LeZero passes through Innsbruck in Austria (left) and finishes in Solighetto in Italy (right).


Net Zero | Issue 2

Vehicles can recharge at the finishing line in Solighetto (right).

‘A lot of drivers “feel” the car. I feel the movement of it. It’s almost like choreography’ ‘While petrol gives you more range and more choice for filling the tank, with LeZero everyone will be heading for the same charging points. That’s another reason why we’ve spread it out over two weeks rather than a single day.’

‘Robert describes me as “light and bright”,’ she laughs. ‘I can fit into a narrow car, I don’t add too much extra weight and I can jump in and out quickly to get time cards – traditional rally cars often don’t have opening doors.

As the location of the first COP, Paris was always going to be the starting point. Venice was chosen not only as an achievable distance in the given time, but also for its commitment to facing climate change and other environmental challenges, and to becoming the oldest city of the future.

‘Dancing was intense, it was my world. There’s a discipline instilled at a very young age. It’s translated itself into this arena, which is strict and stringent, yet fun and creative. ‘A lot of drivers “feel” the car. I feel the movement of it. It’s almost like choreography and it’s wonderful when you get it right, like listening to a piece of great music.’

In the name of “Driving Green Innovation”, 10% of all income from LeZero will be put into an incubator fund as a prize for green mobility, to be awarded at the third Startup Planet (a meeting between entrepreneurs and policymakers to fasttrack progress to net zero) conference in Dubai.

Scan the QR code for further information.

Having danced from 11 to 28, Clara retired from performance due to injury. Now 50, she finds that many of her skills are transferable.


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Shore-fire fix Dredging and pollutants are damaging temperate reefs and the sea floor, destroying the habitat of many sea creatures. However, ingenious artificial reef cubes from Devon company ARC Marine are providing a creative solution, as chief scientific officer Sam Hickling explains

Shore-fire fix

How do reefs work?

Image: Poppy Jakes

A reef is a hard substrate on the sea floor, below the sea surface part of, or all of, the time – so intertidal or subtidal. It might be made from rock, oysters, coral or an artificial substance like metal. As well as providing complex habitats that support greater biodiversity for a wide variety of species, these reefs have important roles in ecosystems as breeding grounds and nurseries. As humans we rely on them for food, bio-tourism and even clean water.

‘Oyster reefs used to be widespread here, but have been affected by bottom-towed fishing gear being pulled along the seabed’ How are reefs being damaged? Coral reefs have been hit hard by ocean acidification and pollutants but, closer to home, the damage is likely to be from mechanical means. For example, scallop dredging uses metal chains to scour the sea floor and scoop up the scallops and if they go over a reef, they scrape off all soft, living organisms. Oyster reefs used to be widespread here, but have been affected by bottom-towed fishing gear being pulled along the seabed.

How did ARC Marine come up with a solution? Company founder and diver Tom Birbeck had seen the damage done by trawlers in Lyme Bay and Torbay. He looked at ways to counter this and decided the best solution was to integrate ecofriendly artificial reefs into engineering projects that would usually damage marine habitats. As an oceanographer, I was excited by the opportunity to build back nature while also creating restorative construction solutions.


The ARC Marine team

Image: Poppy Jakes

Net Zero | Issue 2

What do reef cubes do?

What are reef cubes made from?

They’re patented building blocks with passageways, which increase the surface area and provide a variety of habitat spaces. They also have innovative textures on their exteriors, with pits and grooves to enhance the complexity and benefit more species. A smooth surface might appeal to a couple of species, which would then monopolise that structure, but these cubes have the potential for lots of micro-habitats.

Marine Crete, an alkali-activated material (AAM) which acts as a binder in place of cement and has less ecological impact. Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) has high global warming potential (GWP) due to the greenhouse gases produced during the manufacturing process.

How do you know the reef cubes are working? We took part in a trial in Newlyn with Kier (a leading UK construction and infrastructure services company) and the Environment Agency. The project had 22 reef cubes (including competitor products) placed around the breakwater. The idea was to encourage the uptake of this kind of technology.

‘As fellow Devon businesses, we saw in each other a forward-thinking, sustainable company and a kindred spirit’

We’ve published multiple peer-reviewed research papers on reef cubes based on our experimental artificial reef site. Our most recent paper found three times as many species inside reef cubes (when compared to controls), and double the amount of species around them. It also found greater diversity at all taxonomic levels in and around the reef cubes.


Cubes being transported to their final site

Shore-fire fix

Follow-up research on this project is taking place this year in collaboration with the University of Plymouth. It will enable us to experiment and test how our reef cubes’ different design features work, and answer questions such as: What happens if we close off the bottom passageway? How does the artificial reef compare with natural features?

our office energy consumption. It’s so important to have an idea of our total emissions as a company, not just our products. It means we can account for our carbon footprint, and allows our marketing to be watertight – no greenwashing here. The ultimate goal is to neutralise our emissions, and we’re looking into that now. And of course, as fellow Devon businesses, we saw in each other a forwardthinking, sustainable company and a kindred spirit.

What’s the target market?

A new habitat for sea creatures

Our main markets are aquaculture, marine engineering and offshore energy. Current users include an offshore substation in the North Sea off Holland, and an innovative seaweed farm just down the road from us in Torbay. It’s great having something so close to us, as it means we have access to a trial site. Conditions are fairly mild, so we can go out and do sampling. There’s a wide variety of habitats and it’s a conservation zone, which makes it a good benchmark for our products. And it’s nice to bring this kind of business to the town, rather than just tourism.

How did you work with Blue Marble? Blue Marble calculated the greenhouse gas emissions for our whole business operation, such as


Net Zero | Issue 2

Driven by E-scooter business Neuron Mobility is not only on a mission to make cities greener, it’s also undertaking ambitious plans to reduce its own manufacturing emissions. We talked to head of sustainability and impact Olivia Onderdonk


At the forefront of this movement is micromobility technology developer Neuron whose distinctive orange e-scooters are a colourful feature of many cities in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK. Founded in Singapore in 2016 by Zachary Wang and Harry Yu, the company has fleet partnerships with city councils, businesses and universities around the world.

nce the domain of young kids, e-scooters have had a 360° image makeover in recent years as riders in cities across the world have adopted them as a mainstream and zeroemission mode of transport.


Driven by sustainability

Neuron has always been a carbon-neutral business and has pledged to become carbon negative by 2025. It uses renewable energy to charge its e-scooters, e-bikes and electric vans, as well as recycling its products at the end of their life. But now the company’s head of sustainability and impact Olivia Onderdonk is doubling down on efforts to ensure it sticks to its ambitious sustainability targets.

‘Unlike our main competitors, we manufacture our own e-scooters and this stage in a product’s life cycle often has the highest carbon emissions. The LCA confirmed that the supply chain and manufacturing stages of the N3’s life cycle should be the focus of our attention. Blue Marble then helped us analyse these stages in detail and explore what would happen if we introduced a change here or there.’

In 2022, Neuron commissioned Blue Marble to carry out a cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) of its N3 e-scooter to calculate carbon emissions from the start of the supply chain, through production and operation, to the end of its life.

The Neuron team were guided through potential changes to assess how easy, effective and efficient they would be to implement. A major discovery was that the company could significantly and easily reduce its e-scooters’ emissions by using recycled aluminium in its manufacture.

‘Although Neuron was already a carbon-neutral business and we had several sustainability policies in place, I specifically wanted to calculate the grams of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted per kilometre (gCO2e/ km) of travel on our e-scooters,’ she says. ‘We could then be sure we weren’t passing on any unnecessary emissions to our fleet partners and riders, who are also conscious of their own carbon footprints.’

‘We revisited our supply chain with Blue Marble and were able to find a supplier of recycled aluminium with the correct certifications and criteria to support our e-scooter safety and sustainability objectives, so the N4 is manufactured using 80% recycled aluminium. ‘The LCA carried out by Blue Marble on the N4 confirmed a 20% reduction in emissions compared with the N3.’

In 2023, Neuron commissioned Blue Marble again, this time to carry out an assessment of its new N4 e-scooter, to understand the impact of integrating the recommendations from the N3’s LCA into this model.

‘Blue Marble helped us investigate and analyse each stage in the life cycle’

For both LCAs, Blue Marble outlined exactly what data Neuron would need to supply and worked with the team to develop a format for gathering and presenting it for assessment. One of the first steps in the process was to agree which cities would best represent the company’s operations so they could act as models for the data collection. ‘Blue Marble helped us investigate and analyse each stage in the N3’s life cycle to reveal the stages with the highest emissions and environmental impact,’ says Olivia.

Blue Marble’s independent LCAs provide Neuron, its fleet partners and riders with a detailed understanding of its e-scooters’ emissions. In turn, this forges a secure and transparent link in the supply chain of its fleet partners, who are increasingly scrutinising their own carbon footprints. ‘The team at Blue Marble were collaborative, knowledgeable and approachable right from the start,’ says Olivia. ‘They took time to fully understand us, our products, our reasons for commissioning the LCAs and the resources we had available to support the process, then tailored their services accordingly. I always felt in safe hands.’ 15

Net Zero | Issue 2

Food for

thought... The journey to net zero is a priority for many organisations but educational academy trusts have a more crucial role to play than most, says Blue Marble’s education consultant John Edwards


hen it comes to the nationwide challenge of reaching net zero by 2050, schools are well placed to be in the vanguard of forward-thinking solution-based innovation. Academy trusts that embrace a carbon-responsible learning environment are not only equipping the next generation with the skills, attitude, values and knowledge to redress climate change, they’re also sending positive ripples into society at large.

‘IT is one of the biggest consumers of electricity in a school. Although many products claim to be energy efficient, in practice, a lot of their energy-saving features are never enabled. There is plenty a school can do once they become aware of that.’

‘Surveys show that people are very happy for schools to take a lead in this arena and provide guidance, not only to students but also to their communities,’ says Blue Marble’s education consultant John Edwards. ‘The reach a school can have through its students, their parents and guardians, and the neighbourhood is huge. The individual carbon footprint of a school might be relatively small compared to other public sector organisations, but the impact can be pretty significant.’

The most eye-opening data, however, often relates to food and catering. John, along with academics from The University of Edinburgh, has created a tool set that calculates the carbon footprint of school catering.

Academy trusts often assume the first thing they need to do on their journey towards net zero is to upgrade or replace old buildings – not to mention the outdated and inefficient heating systems that often inhabit them. However, trusts that enter into the consultation process with Blue Marble are often relieved to discover there are smaller, more achievable and less costly steps they can take to reduce their carbon footprint.

‘We were asked to look at 14 schools from a trust that had 34 schools in total. The results showed that the trust’s carbon footprint from its catering at those 14 schools was higher than the combined carbon emissions from all of its 34 buildings. ‘It was a surprise because their catering provider was pretty good. However, it wasn’t until we’d analysed really specific data that we could accurately ascertain what needed to be addressed in order to put together a targeted plan.’

‘There is a perception that getting to carbon neutral is all about heat pumps and solar panels, which cost an awful lot of money,’ says John. ‘Those things are important and will have to be done at some point but that shouldn’t be a barrier to getting started. There is a lot that trusts can do that’s less costly.’

Food choices and food waste are often key factors when it comes to calculating the carbon footprint of a school catering service. ‘There’s a fallacy that it is all about food miles but, unless your produce has been flown in, that is pretty insignificant in terms of an overall carbon footprint,’

IT, for instance, can play a major part in a school’s carbon footprint.


Food for thought

‘When any public sector organisation sticks its head above the parapet, critics will shoot at it. Trusts therefore need to be certain of their facts to avoid being accused of greenwashing or greenwishing. Having a third party mark their homework safeguards against making mistakes.’

‘Having a third party mark their homework safeguards against mistakes’ says John. ‘The food item itself and how it has been grown is the single most contributing factor. Of that, red meat – and beef in particular – is the biggest offender in terms of carbon emissions and biodiversity loss. Many trusts are now moving away from oldfashioned ideas that school meals must be based around heavy meat-protein consumption.’

Larger academy trusts are already required by law to submit streamlined energy and carbon reporting (SECR) documentation. This involves looking at trust-owned vehicles and gas consumption for heating (Scope 1), emissions from purchased electricity (Scope 2), and emissions from business travel in rental or employee-owned vehicles where the trust is responsible for purchasing the fuel (Scope 3).

Food waste is another big hitter, especially if it goes to landfill, and can account for as much as 20% of a school’s carbon footprint.

‘Academies that are serious about tackling their carbon emissions need to be aware that more than 50% of their emissions will be in Scope 3.

‘It’s very easy for schools to resolve that. By diverting the food waste to an anaerobic digester, it flips the other way and becomes a carbon positive.’

‘Trusts with ambitions to go further than SECR, those journeying towards net zero or being carbon neutral, not only need a baseline of where their current emissions are coming from but also need to be able to track their progress and create milestones along the way.’

Although the UK government’s target of reaching net zero by 2050 is a golden opportunity for many academy trusts to create a carbon-neutral learning environment, the practicalities can be challenging.

Sustainability for pioneering academy trusts needs to be woven through everything they do, whether in the courses taught, the co-curricular activities, the catering provided or by winning the hearts and minds of students who may become the next leaders in the journey to net zero.

‘Schools have come out of a difficult period with Covid and are also under pressure in terms of their financing. On top of that are the day-to-day challenges of safeguarding and Ofsted, which sometimes mean senior management have little bandwidth to take on an extra challenge like working towards net zero.’

‘Everything comes back to collecting and understanding the data and then putting together a workable plan. I think that’s where Blue Marble can really help. And there’s nothing better than knowing we are helping organisations that are improving the life choices of young people to reduce their carbon footprint.’

By turning to an outside consultancy like Blue Marble to help crunch the numbers, trusts can remove the guesswork from their green agenda.


Net Zero | Issue 2

Solar solutions Verditek creates lightweight, flexible panels for surfaces previously unsuitable for solar power. Technical project manager Emiliano Leghissa reveals how Blue Marble helped them calculate their environmental impact


hile solar panels have been used for decades to convert energy from the sun into electrical or thermal energy, there have been limits to where they can be installed due to their weight, assembly and rigid structure. However, lighter, more flexible solar panels that can withstand the world’s increasingly unpredictable weather have recently become a reality. One manufacturer at the forefront of this industry is British company Verditek, which makes flexible solar panels in Italy. Its pioneering panels are less than 3mm thick, can bend by up to 35% and can be installed on almost any surface. ‘Traditional solar panels have a glass front sheet, which can make them heavy to transport and difficult to install,’ explains Emiliano. ‘So we integrated high-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells into a lightweight polymer laminate panel. They’re ten times lighter than conventional solar panels but harvest the same amount of power.’


Solar solutions

‘A substantial amount of research and development has gone into making our panels as robust and efficient as possible while also being unobtrusive. We recently partnered with the Scandinavian company Lindab, for example, to help them create a sheet metal roof equipped with our discreet solar panels which are available with either a matt or gloss finish. They look good and are resistant to cold Scandinavian temperatures.’ Collaborating with clients to come up with cutting-edge solar solutions that meet specific requirements is a key part of Verditek’s business. And as manufacturers of clean technology, it’s vital they can evidence that their business is as sustainable as possible. ‘Increasingly, clients were asking us about the environmental performance and the impact of our products over their life cycle, so we asked Blue Marble to help us put together an environmental product declaration (EPD) – a certification now required in some European markets.’ EPDs are becoming standard in manufacturing and construction. They provide data on a product’s impact on the environment, such as resource consumption, energy use, waste generation and emissions to air, water and soil. This information can be used by companies to compare the environmental performance of different products and services, helping procurement professionals select products with low environmental impact.

‘They’re ten times lighter than conventional solar panels but harvest the same amount of power’

The first stage involved Emiliano gathering information on the processes used to produce the solar panels, including everything from the construction of the panels to packaging, transportation and installation. He also took into account the waste generated during their production and at the end of their life cycle. This information was passed to the Blue Marble team to calculate the product’s overall carbon footprint and to condense the findings into an EPD.

Verditek’s solar panels are so light they can be installed on almost any type of structure, including motorhomes, caravans and tents. They’re attached to surfaces using glue, clamps or Velcro, so no bulky or heavy frames are required. Despite their lightweight structure, they can also withstand heavy wind, rain and storms.

‘It was interesting to see how many materials are used in the product life cycle – and not necessarily just by us. The certification is invaluable as it shows our clients and their customers that we take our environmental impact seriously and are committed to sustainability in everything we do.’


Net Zero | Issue 2

20-minute guide to

CARBON OFFSETTING It’s an exercise employed by businesses to help reach net zero, but getting offsetting wrong can lead to damaging accusations of greenwashing. We explore how offsetting works and the options available

Which camp are you in? The requirement to offset carbon really comes down to size; at one end of the scale it’s mandatory, while at the other it’s a question of choice – at least for the time being. Governments and large companies such as airlines are required by law to adhere to the emission

offsetting programmes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which are enforced by regional, national and international bodies. In contrast, smaller businesses and individuals are currently able to choose to offset their current carbon emissions. It may not be mandatory, but this


voluntary market is growing exponentially – it quadrupled in 2021 and is expected to increase 15-fold by 2030 as the world endeavours to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement by 2050. At this end of the scale, offsetting is not regulated at all.

Carbon offsetting

Risk of leaving the business open to criticism or a full-blown PR disaster Risk of criticism

A valuable tool

At first glance, the issue of offsetting can be bewildering at best – a potential minefield at worst. The aim is to avoid, reduce or remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere, but projects are very different from one another. Some are more effective than others. Either way, there’s the risk of leaving the business open to criticism or a full-blown PR disaster.

It goes without saying that while carbon offsetting is a practical solution to the problem of mitigating emissions, it doesn’t mean we can carry on business as usual – which would be the very definition of greenwashing. Reduction at source is vitally important, while offsetting is a valuable companion.

‘Greenwashing is a very serious accusation and to be avoided at all cost,’ says Henry Waite, founder and managing director of Blue Marble. ‘However, there are credible projects available that can help compensate your shortterm carbon impact.’

‘We’ve gone too far not to offset now,’ says Henry. ‘Ideally, we would remove CO2 from the environment equivalent to our emissions, but CO2 removal is prohibitively expensive at the moment. Therefore, offsets can be supported until it's viable to remove CO2 permanently.’

It’s important to be guided by someone who knows the landscape. Blue Marble helps companies of all sizes with their offsetting strategies and requirements, and can present options of verified projects to fit their buying criteria.


Understanding the terminology According to Henry, not all offsetting options are of equal value, but in order to understand the options it’s essential to understand the terminology. A carbon offset is a reduction or removal of greenhouse gases to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. A carbon offset credit is a certified financial mechanism representing an emission reduction that can then be bought or sold. One credit represents the reduction or removal of one tonne of greenhouse gases. Permanence considers the longevity of your investment. This doesn’t refer to the length of the project but rather how long your investment will store or remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Net Zero | Issue 2

It’s also important to consider additionality, which is a little more complex. Additionality is a test of whether a reduction in greenhouse gases would have occurred anyway, without the incentive of carbon offset credits. If the answer is yes, the investment was not additional and resulting environmental claims will lack integrity.

Offsetting options There are three popular carbon-offsetting choices. Unfortunately, the most effective projects are currently price prohibitive. Henry points to direct capture technology, which involves extracting CO2 from the air, subjecting it to a chemical reaction and then storing it underground, long-term. ‘In terms of carbon, it’s highly effective, and is an entirely modular technology that can be scaled up and down sustainably,’ he says. ‘However, this technology is in its infancy; there are only a handful of companies and they’re paying back 20 years’ worth of R&D. So it costs about £1,000 a tonne. It’s entirely about price.’

Care should be taken to ensure a reputable nature-based project is selected. Factored in should be long-term management of the project, and robust plans to meet permanence requirements. The benefits of good naturebased projects go beyond carbon sequestration, and can include increasing biodiversity, the provision of local employment and even crime reduction. The third mainstream option is renewable energy: investment in wind farms, hydroelectric power, biomass and solar energy, for example. This option floats Henry’s environmental boat. ‘If a renewable energy project is accounted for properly and it satisfies the conditions of additionality, it is a significant contributor to the long-term solutions required for the planet,’ he says. ‘Transitioning our economy to the supply of clean

Nature-based solutions, such as reforestation, afforestation (planting trees in new areas) and protection of existing wooded areas (a classic example of avoidance), are perhaps the most widely publicised and easily understood. They’ve become popular with organisations from county councils to major airlines (in 2019, easyJet announced its intention to offset carbon emissions by planting trees).


energy is essential, particularly when considering the shorter-term life cycles of nature-based solutions. Investing in these projects often reflects the preference of our clients and their own views on the longterm strategy for decarbonising the economy. We support the right clean energy projects as part of an offsetting programme. ‘People aren’t as aware of renewableenergy projects as they are of nature-based solutions such as tree-planting schemes that appear in the news. While it’s important to get tree counts back up and biodiversity thriving again – especially in parts of the world where it’s been depleted – a mix of renewable and nature-based solutions can be a good approach.’

Offsetting with confidence So how can a business be sure it’s investing in ethical and effective offsetting projects? Henry refers to due diligence, using the analogy of buying an old house: ‘The seller will state the various things the buyer needs to know

Carbon offsetting

– just the basics – but as a buyer, you’ll probably need a surveyor to have a look at the roof, and you might want to do your own searches, say, for planning applications.’ That’s where Blue Marble comes in as a third-party company that can assess claims and make sure the customer has an accurate picture of which projects are delivering truthfully on their claimed CO2 performance. ‘We source projects for our clients according to their requirements, but will only present options we support too.’

Blue Marble’s clients are mostly larger SMEs emitting between 2,000–4,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. ‘Acquiring the credits can be a bit of a process, so we handle that with a bespoke approach so we can find the kind of offsets the client wants. We’ve got access to the market that isn’t usually accessible to individual businesses. If a business has a specific requirement, we can work to that – for example, a project that sits well with their brand values, or is in a country the customer has links to.’

‘While it’s important to get the tree counts back up and biodiversity thriving again, a mix of renewable and nature-based solutions can be a good approach’


Blue Marble will only source projects that are verified on a recognised registry, for example Verra and Gold Standard. They also work closely with third parties that use drones, satellite and laser technology, to assess the progress of projects against claims being made, and subjects them to a sophisticated rating mechanism. However businesses choose to invest in carbon credits, Henry is clear about one thing: they have to get their own house in order first by reducing their emissions. ‘Carbon offsetting has to be part of a strategy,’ he says. ‘Devise a carbon reduction strategy, invest in projects that fit your criteria and budget, and perhaps do some carbon capture as well. ‘By your Net Zero date, your offsetting investments will need to consist of carbon removal credits equivalent to your unavoidable emissions. Our advice is to weave this responsibility into your business now and incrementally invest in projects you can support sustainably.’

Case study Managing director Phil Atkinson of BTS Facades and Fabrications in County Durham explains how Blue Marble helped them offset their carbon emissions and calculate the impact of their supply chains

What does your business produce?

How has Blue Marble helped you?

Essentially, we produce the metal you may see on the side of buildings – from high-rise residential accommodation to office blocks and retail outlets. We don’t just manufacture these goods for new projects; we get many jobs for ‘makeovers’ of old buildings undergoing gentrification. We’re able to give shabby buildings a sleek modern look, without having to knock the whole thing down.

In a number of ways, including by facilitating the verified scheme we use to offset our carbon, and by helping us secure environmental product declarations (EPDs) on our products. The whole team are incredibly supportive and proactive; they’re a dream to work with.

What specific carbon offsetting projects have you invested in?

Why is being carbon neutral important to you?

Right now, we’re investing in a wind farm in Turkey. We’d like to look at more schemes in England in the coming months.

We want to be a responsible business – it’s just the right thing to do. We have achieved carbon neutrality by offsetting our carbon through a verified scheme, and have held our certificate for around one year. We’d love to be carbon neutral without having to offset our carbon, and we’re doing everything we can to achieve this – but most of our carbon footprint is due to our supply chain. As such, we’re collaborating with those businesses to try to reduce this, but it’s a work in progress. In the meantime, we’re working towards net zero, which we’re looking to achieve by 2030.

How do you feel about what you’ve accomplished so far? We’re so proud! For a manufacturing business to achieve what we have is pretty phenomenal. It was never going to be easy, but we were determined to do the right thing and listen to our architect clients. We’re proud to be leading the way in the manufacturing industry.


Carbon offsetting

‘Most of our carbon footprint is due to our supply chain’


Net Zero | Issue 2

Branch to bottle South West drinks brand Frobishers has an ambitious plan to make its products carbon neutral. We got the juice on their journey from managing director David Pearce


Frobishers’ managing director David Pearce

Branch to bottle


op into any decent pub in the UK and there's a good chance the non-alcoholic options behind the bar will include Frobishers' fruit juices and sparkling softies. It's one of the most recognisable food and drink brands in the South West and beyond.

The business has expanded exponentially since founder Mike Dowdeswell started selling not-from-concentrate apple juice from the boot of his car in the 1990s. Managing director David Pearce was part of the team that took over Frobishers in 2009, broadening and evolving its product range, output and branding. Not long after acquiring the company, a change in reporting requirements resulting from updated EU legislation on producer-waste packaging landed the company with a £12,000 penalty (donated to an environmental project). At the time, there was a general lack of education on the topic and many businesses were impacted by this change in reporting requirements. David says the experience was the catalyst for Frobishers' sustainability ambitions. ‘It gave us a greater sense of the value of the product we were putting into the waste stream,’ he explains.

A change in EU legislation landed the company with a £12,000 penalty, which turned out to be the catalyst for its sustainability ambitions

Since then, Frobishers has donated to several environmental charities (including The Wildlife Trusts and UNICEF) and worked towards carbon-neutral certification with Blue Marble. To achieve its carbon goal, the company reviewed its practices and set about making changes in line with Scopes 1 and 2, such as installing low-energy lighting throughout its premises, switching to a renewable energy supplier and ensuring its vehicles were hybrid or fully electric, but when it came to the business' supply chain (Scope 3) it had little control over carbon output.


Operations manager Becca Winmill

Net Zero | Issue 2

‘The reality is that tropical and citrus fruits can’t be grown in the UK, therefore we have no option but to source them from further afield, so the carbon footprint starts increasing,’ explains David. David and his team work closely with companies in their supply chain and encourage them to reduce their own carbon footprint, but as a relatively small player in a huge industry it takes many voices to effect change. ‘When you're a small company, you have limited influence to pass up the supply chain. We can make suggestions based on our own learnings, but it’s not as simple as saying, “I want you to put turbines in your orange groves and solar panels on the roof of your bottling plant”,’ says David. Despite these hurdles, Frobishers was awarded carbon-neutral certification by making changes at its HQ and offsetting carbon via two projects (one in Zimbabwe, the other in Tajikistan). However, that's not enough for this team, who are determined to go beyond certifying the company as carbon neutral and now want to make their products carbon neutral too. ‘We've asked our suppliers lots of questions but the story is incomplete, so we’re doing a life cycle assessment (LCA) with Blue Marble to help us gauge the scale of the challenge,’ says David.


Branch to bottle

‘We want to be very honest with our customers’ The LCA will identify the environmental impact of the products from branch to bottle and beyond, with the aim of revealing how much carbon the company would need to offset to certify its products as carbon neutral. The other benefit is that it will help Frobishers select suppliers that are more sustainable. Transparency is a priority for the team, so they hope that undertaking the project will help them showcase the company's eco credentials. ‘We want to be very honest with our customers,’ says operations manager Becca Winmill. ‘We're aware that we have advertised Frobishers as carbon neutral and people could easily assume that means the products themselves are carbon neutral (which they are not currently). We're genuinely trying to do the right thing so we can better inform our customers.’ The results of the LCA should be revealed in autumn 2023. The report will help the team identify which stages of the supply chain are most critical to focus on. They’ll then review how to reduce emissions as much as possible before offsetting to get their products to a carbon neutral status. We’ll raise a fruit juice to that!


Net Zero | Issue 2

Meet the team Each issue, we introduce members of the Blue Marble team who are playing their part in our mission to help businesses reach net zero

Mariel Luuk Blue Marble intern How did you come to be doing an internship with Blue Marble? I’m from Estonia, and in 2021 graduated with a master’s degree in biology. I now live in Lyon in France, and have been doing my internship remotely. My last work experience was in a green-tech start-up, where I learned about carbon markets. I felt it was an important topic and started to look for companies specialising in that field. I came across Blue Marble when I contacted them to ask their advice about carbon accounting. They offered me a 12-week internship to learn about life cycle assessments (LCA) – the methodology for assessing the environmental impact of a commercial product, process or service through its entire life cycle from manufacture to disposal. I wanted to dig deeper into the subject, and doing it through practical work seemed ideal.

How’s it working out? Twelve weeks might seem like a long time, but given that LCA is a very complex topic, it isn’t really! My focus was on the LCA of construction products. Construction is one of the most polluting industries, which is why it’s important to do LCAs on buildings and the materials needed to assemble them. The LCA itself is like the back office of the whole process. The important information about a product’s environmental impact can be found in the environmental product declaration (EPD), which is based on its LCA, and I’ve been creating one from scratch.

How is Blue Marble helping you? My learning process has been supported by my Blue Marble mentor, Sam McGarrick, and also by staff from the software company One Click LCA. I’m invited to attend online client

meetings, and each week usually concludes by checking in with my mentor to see what progress I’ve made and if I need any assistance.

What have you enjoyed most? It’s challenging yet interesting to do hands-on work and create an EPD from scratch. One product might be a small thing but the process behind it is very detailed.

What will you take away from the experience? It’s made me think about how much consumption the world is built on. I really hope producers and architects will come up with more local production and environmentally friendly materials to withstand the changing climate.

‘I hope producers and architects will come up with materials to withstand the changing climate’ 30

Meet the team

Atta Ajayebi Scientific advisor at Blue Marble Tell us about yourself I’m an academic, and for the past few years have been devising strategies to tackle climate change. I’ve worked at leading scientific institutes including Imperial College London; the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland; Tsinghua University in Beijing, and the Exeter Centre for Circular Economy. I’ve also provided carbon accounting consultancy to companies such as Adidas, Audi and Rio Tinto.

What’s the focus of your role at Blue Marble? I’m primarily focused on the application of life cycle assessments (LCA). I am helping Blue Marble achieve a top-standard level of performing high-quality LCAs. I also connect Blue Marble and academia to ensure the latest scientific aspects of LCA are implemented.

What is LCA and why is it important? LCA is a tool used to assess the environmental impacts of products, processes or activities throughout their entire life cycle. It provides holistic insights

into the sustainability from a perspective of manufacturers, consumers, policymakers and government. LCA has been the gold standard of accounting for greenhouse gas emissions and producing carbon footprints, but it has lots of other applications. The life cycle perspective supports several goals, such as informed decisionmaking, avoiding problem shifting, comparing products, sustainable design, product labelling and policy development. It’s played a crucial role in supporting corporate emission accounting and disclosure, and strategic sustainability planning.

How does LCA work with the circular economy? The circular economy is an economic model that aims to minimise resource consumption, reduce waste generation and promote the sustainable use of resources throughout the entire life cycle of products and materials. An LCA helps in this goal by providing quantitative insights into the emissions, water footprint, resource criticality and ecosystem impacts of economic activities.


Who are the key users of LCA technology? Several countries have been pioneers in the LCA field, playing significant roles in developing methodologies, tools and datasets while promoting its adoption and integrating it into policies and practices. Switzerland, Germany, USA, Norway and Japan have led the way, playing important roles in promoting sustainable practices and policies globally. In the UK, LCA hasn’t been as mainstream – primarily due to a relatively small manufacturing sector. However, in the past few years, interest in LCA from industry, academia and policymaking has grown rapidly.

How important is LCA in this era of climate change? LCA has been a crucial sustainability framework for decades, and its importance is increasingly recognised. Tackling climate change is a complex challenge that requires collective efforts from individuals, communities, businesses, academics, governments and international organisations.

Net Zero | Issue 2


Capture ideas inspired by the Net Zero journal


Net Zero notes


Net Zero | Issue 2

Glossary From clarifying what ‘capture technology’ means to explaining greenwashing, Blue Marble COO Tim Kemp breaks down the carbon-reduction terminology


Carbon footprint

Carbon-offset credit

Carbon avoidance is the prevention of carbon emissions in the first place, either via specific carbon offsets (in which the project prevents the emission of carbon, such as renewable energy and reduced deforestation projects) or direct carbon-reduction measures.

The total amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by our actions and activities – for instance, household energy usage, the transport we employ, the food we buy and the products we purchase.

A transferable instrument certified by governments or independent certification bodies to represent an emission reduction of one metric tonne of CO2, or an equivalent amount of other greenhouse gases.

Carbon neutral


Companies, processes and products become carbon neutral when they calculate their carbon emissions and compensate for what they have produced via carbonoffsetting projects.

Environmental product declaration (EDP)

Additionality is a defining concept of carbon-offset projects. To qualify as a genuine carbon offset, the reductions achieved by a project need to be 'additional' to what would have happened if the project had not been carried out.

Capture technology Carbon capture technologies are ways of intercepting carbon emissions before they are made, or of recovering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere so it can be stored safely within the natural environment.

Carbon offsetting Carbon offsetting is the process of compensating for greenhouse gas emissions by participating in programmes and projects making equivalent reductions of carbon within the atmosphere.


An environmental product declaration is a verified and registered document that communicates transparent and comparable information about the life-cycle environmental impact of products.

Greenwashing Greenwashing is a PR tactic or marketing approach that makes a company or product appear environmentally friendly, even though it has not meaningfully reduced its environmental impact.


Greenhouse gases (GHG)

Net zero

Scope 2

Gases in the earth’s atmosphere that trap heat and are responsible for causing the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide is the most common gas but there are others, each with different strengths, known as their Global Warming Potential (GWP).

The complete negation of greenhouse gases produced by human activity, through the reduction of emissions and the implementation of methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

GHG emissions from the generation of purchased energy (such as electricity, steam or heat consumed by the company), but where the generation of the energy is performed by an entity outside of the company’s organisational boundary.

Life cycle assessment (LCA)

Small and mediumsize enterprise.

The systematic analysis of the potential environmental impacts of products or services during their entire life cycle. This includes design, sale, purchase, use, destruction and recycling.

Micromobility The use of small, lightweight vehicles such as bicycles and e-scooters with a top speed of 15–30 miles per hour.


Scope 1 GHG emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the company – for example, emissions from combustion in owned or controlled boilers, furnaces and vehicles, or emissions from chemical production in owned or controlled process equipment.


Scope 3 GHG emissions generated because of company activities, but occurring from sources not owned or controlled by the company. Some examples of Scope 3 activities are flights, train travel, hotels, waste management and employees working from home.




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