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Our Carbon Journey

Our Carbon Journey

Two years ago, we decided to take an industry-first step in understanding our carbon emissions. From what we could understand, no one had done it before for instant coffee, which is a core product line for us. There was no template to follow, but we’re always up for a challenge!

We partnered up with Ecofye - an Earthshot Prize nominated environmental consultancy - to carry out a 3-phase process;


Phase 1 - Calculation

Of our scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. 

Scope 1 includes all carbon emissions from our direct energy use (gas, fuel), Scope 2 includes all carbon emissions from our indirect energy use (electricity, steam), and Scope 3 includes EVERYTHING ELSE! That could be the amount of carbon created on the rainy days we drive into the office, the amount we use delivering coffee to you, all the way to the paper we use to write you guys welcome notes.

This phase was lengthy as it involved a lot of data collection from our supply chain - from farm to cup.

Phase 2 - Reduction & Improvements 

Asking ourselves with this new knowledge, where could we immediately have an impact?

This was where we made a decision to upgrade our instant coffee large tub packaging to fully recyclable aluminium, for example.

Carbon emissions are now thoroughly considered as a routine part of our considerations for any product or process decisions (existing and improvements, as well as new). 

Phase 3 - Investment

In selected social and environmental projects that remove, sequester, avoid and offset 120% of the carbon that we emitted in that previous year. Each year, we re-select these projects.

For 2022, we financially supported four Verra-certified projects in the nations from which we buy our coffee;

  1. Forestry Project - Colombia 🇨🇴 This one is super special as it’s the heartland for our coffee & where Helena used to live. As a carbon removal project it actually takes CO2 out of the atmosphere & this one supports local farmers, restores biodiversity & improves fresh water supply. It provides financial and technical support to local farmers, enabling them to adopt new, sustainable farming practices. 
  2. Hydroelectric Energy Project - Honduras 🇭🇳 This project is carbon avoidance focused, meaning it contributes to climate action by preventing carbon that would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere. It provides renewable energy which in turn reduces dependency on fuel wood, relieving deforestation pressures & improving access to electricity for local communities.
  3. Renewable Energy Project - Brazil 🇧🇷 Another carbon avoidance project this has switched the fuel used in a factory from illegal sources to residues. Improving income and working conditions in local communities & avoiding nearly 133,000tons of CO2e.
  4. Biomass Power Project - India 🇮🇳 Our final carbon avoidance project uses rice husks from local communities to make electricity, then the money generated provides a First Aid Health Center which provides education and a hand pump to Tada village.

Following our 2023 calculations, we are financially supporting two fantastic projects, including continuing support for the Chinchina Watershed project in Colombia, and adding support for:

  • Hydro Power Project - Indonesia (Bengkulu) 🇮🇩 This project has been running since 2006 and generates enough electricity to supply 700,000 Indonesians a week. It has created 50 workplaces in the area and the project re-invests part of the revenue into new income streams for the local community (eg. a new marketplace, farmers benefit from improved infrastructure access land/rice paddies). The project also offers free training for locals on composting and organic fertilisers. It has built a primary school, orphanage and mosque, and has its own reforestation programme.

Proudly Becoming Carbon Negative

Once we had completed this process, we set about the task of working out the best way to communicate our carbon-conscious approach to our customers!

We chose ‘Carbon Negative’, which we were super happy with! It felt simple but accurate - the International Energy Agency states that “becoming carbon negative requires a company, sector or country to remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than it emits” (accurate at the time of writing - March 2024). 

By investing in projects that remove, sequester, avoid and offset 120% of the carbon that we emitted in that previous year, this made TrueStart eligible to proudly claim ‘Carbon Negative’ status!

We took a lot of time to consider this language, because language is important.

We thought about options such as ‘Carbon Neutral’ and ‘Planet Positive’, but felt that they were inaccurate or unclear. 

Social Impact

In addition to our support of carbon-related environmental and social projects, TrueStart works with Magic Breakfast to provide nutritious, healthy meals to children at risk of hunger across the UK.

We also donate coffee to food banks, community centres and Fareshare whenever we can.

Finally, we are extremely passionate about improving education - on better health (including neurodiversity awareness) and better business. From working with schools and universities to teach students about ethical and sustainable business, to public speaking on my own personal journey from an ADHD diagnosis aged 7, we believe it is our job to inspire the next generation to make a splash. 

Continuous Progress

Simon and I have always made decisions that we believe in our hearts are the best decisions for both people and planet. 

As a certified B Corp, we’re committed to continuous improvement and progress. 

Carbon is complex, and our priorities are to help our customers understand what we do, whilst also fighting against greenwashing.

Over the past year, we’ve come to realise that there is some confusion around certain terminology, such as ‘Carbon Negative’, ‘Carbon Neutral’, and what it means to be ‘Net Zero’.

It’s also become clear that there are companies out there offsetting destructive, unnecessarily high emissions - emissions around which there is no reduction strategy or thought process in place - in order to claim Carbon Neutral or Carbon Negative status. This is greenwashing.

TrueStart is an inherently carbon-conscious company, always looking for ways to do better. This goes back to how Simon and I have always made decisions in the business - for example, using sea and road rather than air-freight to transport both our coffee and packaging.

We want to ensure that TrueStart remains crystal clear in our communication, and do not wish to use terminology that could be considered confusing for any of our customers.

New Packaging Call Outs - Our Commitment

We are currently reviewing the best way to update the ‘Carbon Negative’ claim on our packaging.

Whilst it remains technically correct, we want to find an even clearer way to share our approach with our customers and do not want to be associated with confusing terminology.

TrueStart will continue to financially support environmental and social projects that remove, sequester and avoid carbon across the world. 

This year for the first time, we will be looking for a UK-based biodiversity, forestry or rewilding project to support - one that we feel excited about as a team! This is alongside the continued support of the Chinchina Watershed Forestry & Biodiversity project in Colombia, which is the primary source of our coffee.

So how do we best communicate this approach to our customers on our packaging?

At the moment, we’re thinking of updating our ‘Carbon Negative Coffee’ stamp to read simply ‘Supports Biodiversity Projects’. This feels very clear and factual, and will be backed up as always by more detailed information here, at

Due to the time and investment required to make these changes across all our products, we will be making the changes one product/range at a time, with a target completion date of December 2025

We hope to have made a decision on what exactly the packaging update will be by July 2024.

We Need You!

To help us to use the clearest possible language on our packaging, to communicate our approach, and the work we do.

Please do get in touch if you have any thoughts or suggestions!

Click below to go to a form where you can let us know in just 10 seconds what words you'd like to see on pack to replace 'Carbon Negative Coffee'..

This really is a team effort, we’re all learning together about how we can make the world a better place! 💙

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