Depop and climate neutrality

By Depop
7 Oct 2021
We’re living in a climate emergency. And the reality is that the time we have to make a difference is less than 10 years. This year, we launched a two-year plan detailing the actions Depop will take as a company to address our impact.
One of the steps we're taking is to become a climate-neutral company by the end of 2021. We’ll also be retroactively offsetting all of our shipping emissions from January 2020 up to now.

Why start with shipping?

As a marketplace, the bulk of our emissions is driven by how our community uses our platform and how they choose to ship. These behaviours have a greater environmental impact than our own operations. And our research shows that shipping can make up to 98% of a marketplace’s carbon footprint.
Now, for each transaction made on Depop, we will offset 100% of greenhouse gas emissions generated by shipping, by purchasing verified carbon credits. In 2020, it represented 16,873 tonnes of CO2e. This is the equivalent of 9,162 NYC-London return flights, or the annual electricity used by 8,400 people in the UK.
Estimating and offsetting the biggest driver of our carbon footprint – shipping emissions – is the most effective action we can take. We’re also aware this won’t solve everything, but it’s a start.
"As a company that already encourages sustainable consumer behaviour, Depop is amplifying its climate leadership efforts by taking the first step towards becoming a climate neutral company." Bethan Halls, Regional Director, South Pole

What did we do?

We partnered with South Pole, a leading project developer and provider of climate solutions, to neutralise our shipping footprint. They helped us to quantify and compensate for all our 2020 shipping emissions by funding two global climate action projects.
We chose these projects because of their positive impact on the planet, their focus on social benefits and their alignment with our values at Depop.

Kariba Forest Protection

Since its launch in 2011 Kariba Forest Protection project has prevented more than 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 emission from being released into the atmosphere each year by preventing deforestation and land degradation of nearly 785,000 hectares of forest in Zimbabwe. By promoting local and sustainable economic opportunities, the project displaces the need for communities to clear the forest for subsistence farming and fuelwood. Among the numerous initiatives deployed, the Kariba project provides clean water to health clinics, teaches sustainable farming techniques and invests in youth education, subsidising several schools through learning materials, building materials and teachers’ salaries. And, with 40% of participants being women, the project also promotes gender equality.

Dora-II Geothermal project

The Dora-II Geothermal project is located in Turkey, one of the world’s top producers of cotton and a major supplier of the fashion industry. The project contributes to reduce Turkey’s reliance on imported fossil fuels through the financing of a geothermal power plant near Izmir, in the Aegean region. Harnessing heat from deep within the earth the power plant generates clean, emissions-free geothermal electricity for the national grid. The project also contributes to regional economic and social development by creating jobs and subsidising a local school.

How did we calculate our shipping emissions?

Our sellers use different shipping services around the world, meaning we don’t have direct control over the delivery of items sold on our app. This makes calculating our shipping emissions challenging as we can’t rely on one single carrier to give us accurate data.
To work it out, we estimate the distance between sellers and buyers for each transaction based on our records of user geolocation. We then apply an uplift of 12% to this mileage (to account for the fact that parcels don’t travel in a straight line) and allocate an average weight for each item category on Depop. With this estimated weight and distance data, alongside CO2 emission factors from DEFRA and the EPA, we calculate emissions for each transaction made.
Our calculations have been independently reviewed and assured by South Pole. You can find their assurance statement below.

What’s next?

We know that carbon offsetting is not the only solution to climate change. Reducing emissions should always be the priority and offsetting should only come as a last resort to compensate for unavoidable emissions. As a company we believe in setting short term goals and focusing our efforts on delivering results and iterating fast.
Our goal is to obtain the Climate Neutral Label by the end of 2021. To do this, we are now working to extend the scope of our carbon inventory to cover other material sources of emissions, beyond shipping, and set reduction targets.
Once we are there, we will revise our plans with the goal to continuously improve our climate action.