UPDATE: We're excited to announce that during BFCM 2020 weekend, we offset nearly 62,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.
That’s the equivalent of carbon captured and stored by 80,970 acres of North American forests in one year—the size of approximately 61,340 football fields!
One of the most exciting parts about the Black Friday Cyber Monday shopping weekend is seeing independent businesses make sales from all around the world. Our annual BFCM Live Map tracks orders in real time, showing how commerce connects people globally.
But for every package shipped, an average of one kilogram of carbon is emitted into the atmosphere. On a high-traffic shopping weekend like BFCM, shipping emissions balloon significantly.
We know there’s a link between commerce and sustainability, and we’re focused on turning it into a positive one. We’re pairing our mission to enable global commerce with our commitment to help reverse climate change.
Shopify will offset all carbon emissions from the delivery of every order placed on our platform during the 2020 BFCM weekend.
For the more than one million business owners using Shopify, no matter where they are in the world, no matter if their orders travel up the street or across the globe, Shopify will offset the carbon emissions of every single delivery.
This commitment is part of Shopify’s Sustainability Fund, which invests a minimum of $5 million annually in the most promising technologies and solutions fighting climate change. After taking a hard look at what BFCM means for the planet, we decided to use some of our 2020 purchases to counteract the negative side effects of shipping emissions during the busiest shopping weekend of the year.
To give you a sense of the scale of the BFCM shopping weekend, let’s look at some numbers from 2019:
- Shopify business owners sold $2.9 billion total during the BFCM weekend, across 175 countries.
- More than 25.5 million people purchased from a Shopify merchant, with sales peaking at more than $1.5 million per minute.
- 19% of all orders were cross-border, meaning they shipped from one country to another.
No one can predict what this year’s BFCM will look like, but chances are the total number of orders and the distances they travel will grow. And that means an awful lot of delivery emissions.
Right now, shipping is a dirty process. The transportation sector is responsible for one quarter of total global carbon emissions. Whether an order is delivered on a boat, plane, train, or truck, most vehicles still run on fossil fuels. To decarbonize the shipping industry, businesses need to adopt clean fuels and improve vehicle efficiency, among other things. But we can’t do that in time for BFCM.
There’s another option we can tap into immediately, however: carbon offsets. Offsets aren’t a perfect solution, but they’re a necessary tool while we scale the use of carbon reduction technologies.
Offsetting all BFCM shipping emissions requires a significant amount of offsets. As we learned during the first year of our Sustainability Fund, there just aren’t many carbon removal options out there, and the ones that do exist are expensive and still scaling up.
What are available in relative abundance right now are nature-based offsets—from projects like forest protection, reforestation, and regenerative farming practices. We’ve purchased a blend of multiple nature-based solutions and one engineered technology to cover 100% of BFCM delivery emissions, which we will calculate using package weight, distance travelled, and transportation method.
Shopify believes in commerce and in sustainability. Both can exist in harmony.
When we launch this year’s BFCM Live Map on Black Friday, you’ll notice we’ve added a new feature to track the amount of carbon being offset throughout the weekend. We can’t wait to show you.
What kind of offsets?
Here’s where our BFCM offsets will come from:
- Pachama: A verified marketplace for forest carbon offsets. They connect environmentally minded companies with projects that restore and protect forests, removing carbon from the atmosphere. Pachama uses satellite images and AI to validate and monitor every project on their platform. Specifically for BFCM, we purchased offsets from projects in Alaska, Uganda, and Colombia.
- Nori: A marketplace focused exclusively on carbon removal credits from verifiable sources. Currently Nori is working with regenerative agriculture projects that connect farmers with buyers looking to negate their emissions with soil-based carbon sequestration.
- Soil Value Exchange: Focused on changing animal grazing methods on ranches to enable soil to store far more carbon dioxide. Shopify was SVX’s first customer. Since our announcement in September, SVX has signed a second purchaser and is exploring collaborations with several ranching organizations.
- CarbonCure: Their technology injects CO₂ into concrete during the mixing process. The CO₂ then mineralizes, improving the concrete's strength and performance while permanently removing the carbon. The company recently closed a significant investment round to continue their international expansion. CarbonCure is used in nearly 300 concrete plants worldwide, resulting in the permanent storage of more than 90,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions to date.
We’ve done our due diligence to make sure all of these are high quality, scientifically and technologically sound offsets making a real difference fighting climate change.
The transportation sector is responsible for one quarter of total global carbon emissions.
But it’s not only about the offsets. We’re buying more than that. We’re providing early funding to companies that previously did not have any customers. We’re helping these companies scale their businesses, improve their verification and monitoring techniques, and prove (or disprove) their technologies. We’re helping kickstart these markets.
What happens after BFCM?
When this year’s shopping season winds down, our climate commitment will not. Here are two ways Shopify already addresses the negative impacts of delivery emissions every day of the year:
- Offset: This Shopify app allows merchants to opt-in to offset all of their order deliveries.
- Shop: For every order placed through Shop Pay, Shopify offsets all delivery emissions.
Global commerce is essential. From the earliest trade routes, humans have bought and sold things from far and wide—and that’s a good thing. Shopify will always focus on creating more entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship improves the livelihood and economic prosperity of people all around the world. And we also need to take care of our planet for the long-term so future generations can continue to buy and sell globally.
Shopify believes in commerce and in sustainability. Both can exist in harmony. And BFCM this year is the perfect snapshot of that in action.
Happy selling to our merchants, and happy shopping, everyone!
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Illustration by Borja Bonaque