About Glovo

Glovo is a fast-growing on-demand delivery service that connects people, businesses and couriers to help users acquire what they need and make cities more accessible.

Earlier this year, Glovo set a precedent for the last-mile delivery sector when they announced their commitment to become carbon neutral by 2021.

We heard from Sebastien Pellion, Glovo’s Head of Social Impact, to learn more about how Glovo is trying to build sustainability into every aspect of the business and why they chose to offset emissions and protect the Amazon rainforest with Pachama.

Making Sustainability a Team-Wide Mission

“Generating social and environmental impact is one of the reasons why Oscar Pierre and Sacha Michaud created the company [in 2015],” said Sébastien Pellion, Glovo’s Head of Social Impact. Early on, the co-founders created a dedicated sustainability department, which Sacha still manages and reports about to the management committee. Glovo also began working towards a triple bottom line, optimizing for economic, social and environmental impact.

During its first four years, Glovo focused primarily on economic and social impact. As the business grew, it enabled small businesses and independent couriers to earn an income and helped connect people with essential goods. When Sebastien was hired in 2019, Glovo was already operating in 20 countries, and it was time to deepen its sustainability commitment.

“If we do not take action here, now, the long-term consequences of climate change will be devastating for the planet and for mankind, including in terms of economic development,” said Sebastien. With that in mind, Glovo decided to be carbon neutral by the end of 2021. The ambitious goal helped reaffirm Glovo’s internal commitment to sustainability and helped rally the entire team around the mission.

Measuring and Addressing Key Emissions Sources

“The first thing we did one year ago was to calculate our carbon footprint and identify our main sources of greenhouse emissions along our value chain,” said Sebastien. From this analysis, three main sources of emissions emerged: food waste, single-use packaging and delivery. From there, Glovo created a sustainability roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality by the end of 2021 that included three intermediary goals.

First, Glovo aimed to get 25% of its partners to sustainably manage food waste and worked with NGOs to prepare meals for the hungry using leftovers. It also launched Glovo Access, a social enterprise that delivers essential products to vulnerable individuals and communities.

Next, it set a target 10% of partners to use sustainable packaging. Glovo began selling packaging to its partners through GlovoStore, its dedicated e-commerce business. The packages are made from recycled (rPET) or recyclable materials (made with cellulose or PLA) to make a dent in plastic waste. Since the start of 2020, it has sold over 350,000 sustainable packaging items to its customers.

Finally, Glovo committed to offsetting 100% of carbon emissions from delivery. This is significant because overall, the last-mile delivery sector may increase carbon emissions by nearly 30% in the next decade.

With these three goals in place, cross-functional teams within Glovo began working together to build sustainability goals into each department’s quarterly objectives. Today, sustainability even gets tech support.

“Every quarter, we are dedicating tech resources — that is our most precious resource — in order to make social impact part of the product’s vision and development,” Sebastien said.

While the food and plastic waste initiatives and efficient delivery routes reduced emissions by more than 600 tons, Glovo needed help to reach its goal of going carbon neutral, which led to its partnership with Pachama.

“Every quarter, we are dedicating tech resources — that is our most precious resource — in order to make social impact part of the product’s vision and development.”

Offsetting Emissions That Can’t (Yet) Be Reduced

“We are conscious that we won’t go fast enough to reduce 100% of our carbon footprint by the end of 2021,” Pellion said. “When it comes to transportation emissions, it will be difficult to reduce them until technological solutions [like electric vehicles] are accessible at a reasonable cost for everyone.”

While Glovo can’t stop all emissions, it’s committed to offsetting what it can’t reduce. That’s why in early 2020 it partnered with Pachama — which uses AI and remote sensing technology to verify forest conservation and restoration projects — to offset emissions from delivery orders made by cars and motorbikes. By July, Glovo had already offset all emissions from Q1 2020 through our projects.

“We chose Pachama for its reliability after reviewing the different options available around the world,” Pellion said. “One of the main challenges in the field of carbon offsetting is to identify projects in which emissions are effectively reduced. The technology developed by Pachama acts as an additional guarantee to international standards in order to verify reforestation projects.”

“One of the main challenges in the field of carbon offsetting is to identify projects in which emissions are effectively reduced. The technology developed by Pachama acts as an additional guarantee to international standards in order to verify reforestation projects.”

Glovo chose to honor the Amazon, which extends into countries where it operates, by supporting two forest projects in the region: Brazil Nut Concessions and Madre de Dios. Brazil Nut Concessions is a collaboration with 300 small landowners who are avoiding deforestation in the Peruvian rainforest by passively harvesting Brazil nuts from old-growth forests. It protects about 710,000 acres in the Amazon and prevents 14.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Through Madre de Dios, local landowners practice harvesting and management practices that improve carbon sequestration on two private Peruvian forests spanning over 244,000 acres, protecting 14,000 trees every year.

Forest conservation — especially in the Amazon, where three football fields of forest are removed every minute — provides outsized benefits by preventing emissions, protecting incredible biodiversity and empowering local communities. Likewise, offsetting emissions through Pachama’s projects helped Glovo see outsized benefits from its sustainability program.

Addressing climate change is a good for business

Like many companies that take action to address climate change, Glovo is beginning to see benefits from their actions. “All teams are starting to realize co-benefits at different levels: from cost reduction linked to energy efficiency at the office, to incremental orders from communicating to the customers our commitment towards carbon neutrality,” said Sebastien.

The Madre de Dios project protects habitat for numerous endangered species and contributes to the sustainable development of local communities.

Sebastien feels confident that the benefits will continue to increase over time. “Consumer demand for sustainable products is starting to grow, making the business case for sustainability more and more compelling,” he said.

Advice to others: Work together and link sustainability to business success

Sebastien advises other businesses that “the key to growing sustainability and climate action is to onboard the entire team by making everyone aware that their efforts will have a positive impact — then the time dedicated to these projects stops being seen as an extra contribution and starts being seen as a new way of doing business.”

Still, the journey has posed challenges because the economy doesn’t incentivize decoupling growth from carbon emissions or limiting resource consumption. That’s why Sebastien says it’s important for businesses to find the right strategy that links sustainability to business success, and work with the right partners along the way.

“My advice: make a truthful effort to transform your business model, and your customers will give it back to you sooner that you think,” Sebastien said. “It won’t take more time or more resources, but on the contrary, it will be a way for them to generate additional economic value for the company.”

Here at Pachama, we’re excited to see companies like Glovo set a precedent to protect and preserve natural capital as they do their part to turn the tide on climate change.

Ready to take action on climate at your organization? Pachama makes it easy to support forest projects through the purchase of carbon credits. Visit Pachama today to learn more about the forest projects on our platform.

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn Ralph Waldo Emerson