Ben & Jerry’s scoops blockchain carbon trading pilot

Ben & Jerry’s scoops blockchain carbon trading pilot

What’s being billed as the “world’s first retail platform that connects consumers to their own carbon footprints” has been launched in a pilot programme in London, by non-profit organisation, the Poseidon Foundation.

Announced earlier this month, the Poseidon retail platform uses blockchain technology to integrate carbon markets into transactions at the point of sale, giving retailers and their customers the opportunity to support climate change action via conservation projects when they buy or sell goods.

Poseidon is partnering with ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s to demonstrate the system in London.

The technology allows both sellers and buyers to make each purchase/sale climate neutral or positive, by embedding the item’s carbon footprint into the deal, offering Poseidon users the opportunity to offset it, while enabling them to track the impact of any carbon credits they purchase on conservation projects.

The back end of the system runs on the Stellar blockchain network.

How it works

A retailer’s point of sale system reveals the carbon impact of each product. On purchase, this is then added to the customer’s bill as an optional item. When the shopper pays for the good(s) with a credit or debit card, the Poseidon back end matches the details with that person’s profile, buys Poseidon’s native tokens on their behalf, and acquires the equivalent offset in the form of carbon credits. These are added to the customer’s profile, and the blockchain is updated with all the transaction details.

Carbon credits on the Poseidon Platform are sourced from Ecosphere+. As part of the Althelia Climate Fund, Ecosphere+ has direct access to what it says is “the largest portfolio of forest conservation projects in the world”.

The aim is to transform people’s relationship with their carbon footprints, encouraging behaviour change, and using the growth potential of carbon markets to address environmental challenges directly.

Poseidon in operation

From Phish Food to brain food

The pilot programme is underway at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream Scoop Shop in Wardour Street in Soho, central London. For every scoop of ice cream sold, Ben and Jerry’s is using the Poseidon platform to support a forest conservation project in Peru.

The Cordillera Azul National Park sits where the Andes meets the Amazon basin, and is home to around 6,000 plant species, 11 endangered large mammals, and numerous indigenous populations. Ben & Jerry’s is offering customers the opportunity to join them in supporting the project with every purchase made via the new system.

Poseidon founder and CEO, Laszlo Giricz, said, “We are thrilled to see our pilot with Ben & Jerry’s fully operational, giving consumers for the first time the opportunity to rebalance their own carbon footprints – and rebalance the carbon concentration in the atmosphere in the process.

“While this is just one small pilot, the technology is now proven and can be fully scaled and integrated, giving everyone the opportunity to understand their own carbon impact and take action.”

Chris Gale, head of Ben & Jerry’s Social Mission Europe, added: “We have got a long way to go within our own business to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, but we have also made some big commitments and want to be transparent about our impact.

“At the same time, we want to use every part of our business to support a transition to a low- carbon economy, including putting an internal price on carbon and setting ourselves ambitious targets to reduce our absolute carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2020.”

Internet of Business says

Alongside transportation, the supply chain, and financial services, carbon credits have proved to be an exciting new opportunity for blockchain-based systems this year.

Earlier this month, Internet of Business reported on how environmental fintech company Veridium Labs has partnered with IBM to use blockchain to help companies offset their environmental footprints.

The idea is to help transform carbon credits into fungible (exchangeable or interchangeable) digital assets that can be redeemed or traded – like the Poseidon programme – on Stellar, the decentralised financial network.

In that relationship, Stellar acts as the underlying ledger, IBM as the token manager or broker, and Veridium provides the environmental expertise and structure.

The resulting digital environmental assets are designed to help companies and institutional investors purchase and use carbon credits to mitigate against their environmental impacts, and hedge against future liabilities.

Chris Middleton
Chris Middleton is the editor of Internet of Business, and specialises in robotics, AI, the IoT, and technology strategy. He is former editor of Computing, Computer Business Review, and Professional Outsourcing, among others, and is a contributing editor to Diginomica, Computing, and Hack & Craft News. Over the years, he has also written for Computer Weekly, The Guardian, The Times, PC World, I-CIO, V3, and The Inquirer, among many others. He is an acknowledged robotics expert who has appeared on BBC TV and radio, ITN, and Talk Radio, and is probably the only tech journalist in the UK to own a number of humanoid robots, which he hires out to events, exhibitions, universities, and schools.