European Marketplace Lender October Shares Steps Toward More Sustainable Activity

A few months ago, October co-founder and Chairman Olivier Goy went on a trip in Antarctica “to shoot a part of the documentary ‘La vie est belle’ (Life is beautiful).”

A quick question for you: “what do you think was the highest temperature level ever recorded in Antarctica? 18,3°C.”

And it was “recorded on February 2020.” March 2022 “recorded a -11°C, when it should normally be -50°C – nearly 40 degrees above the normal.” So maybe, surrounded by penguins, Olivier wasn’t “so cold after all.” But this record shows that global warming “is accelerating and that we need urgent measures.”

By 2100, the planet’s average temperature “is expected to increase by as much as 5°C.”

The Paris Agreement sets out “a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.”

At October, as responsible lenders and signatories of the UNPRI (United Nations Principles for Responsible Investments), they want “to be part of the effort against climate change.”

Last year, October had a 72% increase in their revenue. With such growth, they must “ensure that [their] carbon footprint does not increase at the same rate.”

Even if they are a 100% online solution, they produce in their 5 countries carbon emissions through their day-to-day expenses, travels and investments. It feels like “a lot of things to measure.”

To take their first step towards their ecological awareness, they decided “to join the Climate Act.”

An initiative launched in 2019 by Shine, a French pro online account provider, the Climate Act community “gathers almost 300 startups and scale-ups committed to reducing their carbon emissions and environmental impact.”

The Climate Act gives them milestones and “an agenda to start our journey towards becoming a more environmentally responsible company.”

In addition to that, October also “signed the Planet Tech’Care initiative along with 528 partners from several sectors – financial and economic institutions, professional organisations, schools, associations, foundations, think tanks etc.”

With this initiative, the team aims “to support companies wishing to integrate digital technology into their environmental impact trajectory.”

As explained in a blog post the definition of carbon footprint “is the quantity of greenhouse gases emitted by the activity, or by the production of a product or a service.”

This calculation is very useful “to measure [their] impact on climate change.” In France, the carbon footprint assessment “is mandatory only for private companies with more than 500 employees, but October decided voluntarily to take part in the exercise.”

To accomplish this first mission, they based their carbon footprint assessment “on the Bilan Carbone methodology certified by the ADEME – the French public agency for the ecological transition – on the ISO’s norm, the GHG protocol and the GES process.”

The objective was “to measure all greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) physically necessary for our company’s activity, from Scope 1 to Scope 3.”

The GHG Protocol Corporate Standard has “classified the emissions” into three scopes:

  • Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources.
  • Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company.
  • Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain: purchasing of products and services, commuting of employees, etc.

At October, they wanted to study their carbon emissions from January to December 2020, across all their 5 countries of operation (France, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands).

During summer 2021, they had sent all employees “a questionnaire about their activity in 2020. The questions covered a range of sustainability- and impact-related topics: their environmental awareness, their work, their travels, the remote, their equipment and meals.”

They also “answered questions about their expenses, providers and use of digital solutions, and we submitted book accounts to analysts.”

To calculate our carbon emissions, “every activity or expense is converted in kilos of CO2 through what we call emissions factors.”

For example, they can “convert into kilos of CO2 the number of kWh consumed or the expense in € related to a consumption (monetary ratio).”

For example, “for 1kwh or electricity in France, 0.052kg of CO2 is emitted. Or for 1€ spent on electricity, 0.37kg of CO2 is emitted.” (This notation is read as 0.37kCO2e (e = equivalent).)

October company’s footprint

685 tCO2e*

If Octber tried to represent this amount on some scales we are more familiar with, drawn from our daily life, it would “correspond” to:

  • 90 trips around the world in a diesel car
  • 190 Paris-New York trips
  • The consumption of CO2 by 12 462 m2 of French mature forest

76% of their emissions came from their purchases, with 521tCO2, which “are mainly the purchase of studies and services and the remuneration of intermediaries, such as audits, accounting and law firms we work with.”

Accommodation and catering, with 51tCO2e, “comes second.”

It is interesting “to see that the red meat lovers, even if they don’t represent the biggest expenses for this category, are the one that emits the most (15 673kCO2e). #becomeflexitarian.”

The digital purchases – digital, cloud and hosting services – “come third with 45tCO2.”

As a tech company October says they “are dependent on digital providers, such as AWS, MongoDB or Mailgun, to support our infrastructure, database and requests. Those providers represent 12tCO2.”

They also use digital and SaaS solutions on a daily basis “to simplify and accelerate our exchanges (Dropbox, Slack, Zoom, Intercom…).”

They represent 32tCO2 in their footprint. All of these services “are generating carbon emissions responsible of the greenhouse effect.”

The good news is that October’s employee carbon intensity “is under the average and median value compared with other companies using the same assessment tool.”

The employee carbon intensity calculation only “includes employee-related emissions: commuting, meals, IT purchases, office and teleworking.”

As expected, business travel and commuting were low in 2020 at October, “mainly due to pandemic-related restrictions and the spread of remote working policies.”

This explains why their carbon intensity “per employee is below average.”

This study makes them realize the consequences of all of their activities and actions, “it allows [them] to identify the areas and activities which account for the majority of our emissions, understand how we can decrease them, and put in place plans of action accordingly.”

The idea, following this carbon footprint assessment, is “to take actions in order to limit [their] carbon emissions.”

For more details on this update, check here.

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