We’re just past the half-way point in the year yet Earth Overshoot Day, the day when our global demand for ecological resources exceeds what our planet can regenerate in a given year, has already come and gone. The Global Footprint Network calculated that we hit this day last week, on July 29. This is clearly not sustainable. With approximately two-thirds of the global population expected to live in cities by 2050, building more sustainable cities will be a key part of bringing our use of Earth’s resources into balance once again.
Spin’s mission of creating 15-minute cities isn’t simply about improving mobility in cities – it’s about contributing to a more sustainable and livable future. Personal mobility accounts for approximately 17 percent of our global carbon footprint, so sustainable transportation must be a part of the solution in cities. We’re proud that our electric scooters and bikes, powered by 100 percent renewable electricity, offer urban residents a convenient and green mode of transportation. However, we know there is more that we must do to reduce emissions and combat a warming planet.
Building on our efforts towards our ambitious carbon negative by 2025 goal—removing more carbon from the atmosphere than we generate in providing our service—we are excited to announce that Spin is now a carbon neutral company. Furthermore, we’re thrilled to announce that we have signed the Climate Pledge, joining more than 100 other companies committed to climate action and decarbonizing the global economy. As a signatory of the Pledge, we agree to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis, as well as implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement through real business changes and innovations. Signatories also commit to neutralizing any remaining emissions with additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially beneficial offsets to achieve net-zero annual carbon emissions by 2040—a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement’s goal of 2050.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Spin to The Climate Pledge,” said Sally Fouts, director of The Climate Pledge at Amazon. “Transportation is one of the leading sectors driving up global carbon emissions, and alternative transport solutions are essential in creating the low-carbon economy of the future. Together, through collective collaboration, action, and investment, we can achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.”
Measuring our carbon footprint
Carbon accounting is the process of measuring how much carbon (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) an organization emits in their regular course of doing business. We must have an accurate carbon accounting of the GHG emissions associated with all of Spin’s business activities – from the manufacturing, transport, and end of life of our scooters to the goods and services we procure and the way we operate our business – in order to understand how to reduce those emissions and achieve carbon neutrality. We undertook a detailed accounting using the GHG Protocol, the global standard for measuring and managing GHG emissions, with the support of Emitwise and TBL Services. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, and to uphold our commitment to regularly report as a part of The Climate Pledge, today, we are the first micromobility company to share that detailed greenhouse gas accounting with the public.
Under the GHG Protocol, emissions are placed into three different classifications, which are labeled Scopes 1, 2 and 3.
Scope 1 covers direct emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by a company. In our case, that means the gas used to heat our office and warehouses, and the fuel used in our Operations vans for deploying and maintaining our e-scooter fleets.
Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of electricity that Spin purchases to power our office and warehouses as well as charge our scooters. Scope 2 emissions are measured using two methods: 1) the location-based method uses the average emissions intensity of grids on which energy consumption occurs; and 2) the market-based method reflects the emissions of the electricity based on the specific electric utilities from which the company sources. Using 100 percent renewable electricity, via direct purchases from utilities as well as renewable energy certificates (RECs), enabled us to reduce our market-based emissions from 701 mt CO2e to zero. According to the EPA, this is equivalent to taking 152 passenger cars off the road for a year.
Scope 3 covers the indirect emissions that come from the rest of our activities. This includes everything from the manufacturing, transportation, and end of life of our scooters to our purchased goods and services, business travel, employee commuting, and remote work. As with most companies, the vast majority of our emissions (90 percent) fall under Scope 3. Reducing Scope 3 emissions is often the most challenging because they are outside Spin’s direct control, but we can influence it through our business decisions and sustainability efforts.
Spin used a number of different data sources, from utility bills and fuel cards to spend and HR data, to calculate our emissions. Quantifying emissions is not easy and the data and methodologies used are admittedly still imperfect, but the results offer valuable insights into a company’s activities and the areas of greatest impacts and opportunities for emissions reductions. It’s also a way to track and be accountable for the company’s carbon footprint. We will continue to measure, reduce, and offset our emissions, and report on our annual progress.
Getting to carbon neutrality
In April, we purchased high-quality carbon offsets to net our Scope 1 emissions, and did so again for our Scope 3 emissions. To keep the world moving and spinning on clean, renewable energy, Spin is supporting the Hebei Guyuan Country DongXinYing 199.5 MW Wind Power Project in China. The majority of our scooters are manufactured in China and this accounts for a significant portion of Spin’s Scope 3 emissions. By purchasing offsets from this project, we are supporting the development of renewable energy in China, which is still heavily reliant on energy from power plants that burn coal and other fossil fuels. We are also supporting the Crow Lakes Wind Reduction Project in South Dakota to encourage the ongoing development of clean energy here in the U.S. as well.
These purchases, combined with our use of 100 percent renewable electricity, which reduced our Scope 2 market-based emissions to zero, helped us achieve our status as a carbon neutral company. Again, using the PAS 2060 carbon neutral specification, Agendi, an independent third party, has verified our emissions calculations and carbon neutrality claims.
Removing carbon from the atmosphere
Climate change is a global problem, and it requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. In addition to reducing emissions, the world will also need solutions that permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere. This is why, earlier this year, we contributed to Stripe Climate, which is investing in early-stage carbon removal companies. We are also providing direct support to two carbon removal companies, CarbiCrete and Project Vesta.
CarbiCrete has pioneered an innovative technology that enables the production of cement-free, carbon negative concrete. Concrete is the most widely used man-made material in the world and essential for the construction of the buildings, infrastructure, roads and transport networks that make up our cities. Unfortunately, it has a huge environmental footprint. Cement, the main ingredient in concrete, accounts for approximately seven percent of global carbon emissions. With demand for concrete expected to grow as the world continues to urbanize, reducing emissions from concrete production is critical to the sustainability of cities. CarbiCrete’s technology eliminates the need for carbon-intensive cement in concrete production by replacing it with slag, an industrial by-product from steel production. The process injects CO₂ into fresh concrete, which increases the strength of the concrete and permanently sequesters the carbon.
Project Vesta has developed a coastal carbon capture (CCC) process that accelerates an ancient natural process -- rock weathering -- by spreading abundant and natural olivine sand into coastal oceans. As the olivine dissolves, it reduces ocean acidification and enhances the oceans' natural capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Project Vesta also deploys olivine sand as a part of carbon-absorbing coastal protection projects. With sea level rise a growing concern for our coastal cities, including San Francisco, where Spin and Project Vesta are headquartered, and many of the cities where Spin operates, Project Vesta’s work to foster coastal resilience is even more important.
Spin’s support of these two organizations contributes to the research, growth, and scaling of two highly promising carbon removal technologies in the fight against climate change.
While we are celebrating this important milestone in our sustainability journey, we still recognize that our work is far from finished. Now that we have conducted our first complete analysis of all our emissions, we can better manage what we have measured. An annual review of our emissions will give us the tools to chart a clear pathway to become carbon negative by 2025. It will also help us remain accountable to ourselves and our partners.
Reducing our Scope 3 emissions will present a significant challenge, but we are committed to this work. This will require working closely with our manufacturers and suppliers to assess the full lifecycle of our products, collaborate on shared sustainability objectives, and design products with sustainability, durability, and circularity in mind in order to reduce emissions and divert 100 percent of waste from landfills. We will also continue to offer a reliable, safe, and accessible micromobility service to reduce car use on city streets and connect riders to public transit to make transportation more sustainable.
Combating climate change is the defining challenge of our time and our success is dependent on the shared commitment of our partners and riders. Working with our existing relationships and through new partnerships with cities, campuses, manufacturers, suppliers, and other like-minded organizations, we aim to transform the future of mobility for all. Together, we can make our cities greener, healthier, and more livable so that future generations can keep on spinning.
Hui leads Sustainability at Spin and spearheads cross-functional efforts to implement Spin’s Carbon Negative by 2025 Strategy. Previously, she led ESG strategy and reporting and climate risk management at Citi. She began her career in consulting and investment banking, and also has experience managing global health programs in the non-profit sector.
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