Steenbergs Carbon Emissions and Offsets

Every year at Steenbergs, we sit down and try and calculate our carbon footprint and then offset for the greenhouse gasses that make up our carbon footprint.  It's a guesstimate because it does not include all aspects of the Steenbergs business, but we cover a much wider proportion of Steenbergs' impact on the planet than most others.

Steenbergs gets its energy from electricity some of which is generated via solar panels and the rest comes from the grid.  We do not use gas or other fuels for energy.  On top of that, we have indirect greenhouse gas emissions primarily from transport, travel and paper.

Firstly, those things that are included and those that are excluded are as follows: 

  • Carbon costs that are included: transport of raw materials and packaging from most recent supplier to Ripon; transport of Steenbergs goods from our Ripon factory to customers; and carbon cost of paper used in marketing and office functions;
  • Carbon costs that are excluded: energy from our solar panels; staff travel to and from work; embedded carbon within Steenbergs raw materials and packaging.

Secondly, we have have switched the mechanism for offsetting our carbon costs to Plan Vivo as we like their methodology, particularly their focus on smaller, rural people and communities who are dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods.  At Steenbergs, we have a Senian view of poverty eradication and seek to maintain and develop the capabilities of the global poor, so this fits neatly.  In addition, it allows us to chose projects that are close to where Steenbergs purchases its goods, so localises the benefits from any negatives arising from our activities where it is most appropriate.

Therefore, Steenbergs currently offsets its CO2e by purchasing credits from the Hiniduma Biolink Project in the Galle Region of Sri Lanka.  For more on both Plan Vivo and Hiniduma Biolink, visit

For 2013, Steenbergs direct carbon emissions were 17.2 tonnes CO2e, of which 11.0 tonnes CO2e is directly from our operations and 6.2 tonnes CO2e is from transport of raw materials and packaging to Steenbergs and our parcels out to customers.  We actually use around 28,000 kWh of energy, but generate 19,500 kWh in energy from solar panels on the building.  Our calculations indicate that Steenbergs CO2e emissions are 21% of the equivalent for individuals, which is in line with our water consumption which is 16% of individual usage (i).

So at Steenbergs, we are treading lightly on the planet, but we still are aiming to bring this down further through greater environmental efficiency, better packaging and sourcing etc.  Offsetting is not the answer but a way of mitigating the impact of a business or person on the global environment; it’s a bit like an insurance policy that covers those bits of risk that you cannot protect against any other way.  So the key is to work to get the costs down, little by little until you have got your lifestyle as light on the planet as possible.

While our impact is fine compared to our benchmarks on water consumption and CO2e, we believe that we should be able to reduce our energy consumption further and are looking at ways of reducing this.  We have set ourselves a target of one-third of individual consumption versus current levels of 41%.

(i) These figures assume that Steenbergs has 8 full time equivalents and we have grossed up statistics for individual consumption in the UK.