Climate Action Offsetter: The Climate Trust

July 2, 2014

Susan Thoman, director of business development at Cedar Grove Composting, shows off the company's finished product. Photo by JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Susan Thoman, director of business development at Cedar Grove Composting, shows off the company’s finished product. Photo by JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

written by The Climate Trust

Seattle City Light, a public utility serving 740,000 residents in Seattle, Wash., signed a contract with Portland-based nonprofit, The Climate Trust, to launch the first-ever national project to voluntarily purchase carbon credits sources from reductions made with organic composting. Seattle City Light purchased 35,000 carbon reduction tons (CRTs) of verified emission reductions from two organic material composting projects within the state, eliminating harmful methane emissions. The methane removal from these projects is equivalent to 6,200 cars being driven annually!

“Seattle City Light’s long-term goal is to meet all of Seattle’s electricity needs through conservation, new renewable sources, and with renewable energy credits to maintain zero net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” said Corinne Grande, Seattle City Light Power Analyst from the Environmental Affairs Division. 

The projects operated by Cedar Grove Composting prevent the emission of methane into the atmosphere.  Methane has a global warming potential 23 times greater than carbon dioxide according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Typically, food and other organic materials are sent to a landfill, where organics decompose in an anaerobic manner, generating high levels of methane. Composting breaks down organics using an aerobic process—which results in substantially reduced methane emissions.

Cedar Grove Composting worked with Environmental Credit Corp (ECC); an experienced carbon offset project developer, to develop the projects in adherence to CAR’s Organic Waste Composting Project Protocol; managing the verification process, and structuring carbon credit transactions. The two projects are distinguished as the first projects quantified and verified under this new protocol, and also as some of the first carbon transactions involving organics composting domestically. The facilities accept material from a variety of residential and commercial sources including Seattle and King County, Wash. as well as other counties in the state.

In addition to the credits purchased by Seattle City Light, other environmental and economic benefits of the methane reduction project include the ability to utilize recycled food material as compost; improving soil health and structure; increasing drought resistance; and reducing the need for supplemental water, fertilizers, and pesticides.

“This project illustrates that investment in innovation such as organics composting projects can pave the way towards more sustainable methods of handling long-time problems like community waste, in addition to helping protect the climate,” said Derek Six, Portfolio Manager & CFO for Environmental Credit Corp.

Utilities such as Seattle City Light have relied on The Climate Trust (TCT) to finance and effectively manage numerous greenhouse gas reduction projects on their behalf. While The Climate Trust is well-versed in helping businesses and utilities meet their carbon reduction commitments, the heart and soul of our operations is in working with project developers such as ECC to achieve our mission and help mitigate climate pollution. For more information on The Climate Trust, please visit www.climatetrust.org

  • Fred

    What does Cedar Grove do with the money from carbon offsets? I’m wondering if the offsets fund the reduction of additional GHG pollution that wouldn’t have been reduced without new money. Thanks.