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Sandri partners with nonprofit to offset effects of carbon dioxide

  • —Submitted photo



Recorder Staff
Thursday, June 28, 2018

Two Sandri gas station-convenience stores will launch a pilot program aimed at giving customers a chance to voluntarily offset the “carbon footprint” of what they’re pumping.

Starting Friday, at the cash register and pumps at the Sandri stations at 295 and 416 Federal St. will be donation boxes to collect money toward offsetting the effects of carbon dioxide emitted by the gasoline.

A few weeks later, “green gas” will be an option as they pump as well, there and at the Greenfield distributor’s 16 stations in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts communities like Orange and Northampton.

“From our perspective, we’re excited to give our customers an opportunity to help offset some of their carbon footprint,” said Sandri spokeswoman Erika Young. “We see a lot of customers with concerns, and this customers allows our customers to donate to this program. But Sandri is also looking to give some money from sales inside the stores, so they can purchase products from each category inside the store as well.”

The effort was organized through a partnership with the Green Gas Movement, the creation of three Northeastern University environmental science alumni who have been exploring ways to find “a more effective carbon accounting in the economy.” Proceeds from the Somerville nonprofit will be used toward planting trees as part of the 1-million-acre Mississippi Alluvial Valley Reforestation Project to not only sequester carbon but also present rainwater runoff, said Liam Madden, a spokesman for the Green Gas Movement. The organization began operation this year, and has also begun to issue a debit card that can be used at any gas pump and automatically contribute carbon offset credits.

The team’s business plan, which won the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s “Solve Initiative” competition, was presented at the United Nations as a way to offset the burning of fossil fuels by convincing consumers to make voluntary donations.

“You’re sitting at a gas pump. You’re given the option to offset your carbon emissions while filling up your car’s tank. Do you take it?” reads the opening of an online description of the MIT initiative supporting business models to address the threat of global change.

“Nearly two-thirds of Americans are concerned about climate change, yet find it difficult to not contribute to the problem when they travel,” said Kyle Kornack, Green Gas executive director. “Transportation, meanwhile, is the second greatest contributor of climate change in the U.S., and emissions from this sector have failed to decline. We need to act far faster if we want to prevent catastrophic climate change. We’ve created Green Gas Movement to give people the power to drive carbon neutral. Green Gas is simply an optional green add-on, offered at the point of purchase, that offsets the carbon footprint of gasoline. It costs less than 10 cents per gallon for a 100 percent offset, which funds certified carbon reduction projects such as reforestation, regenerative agriculture, and renewable energy.”

In addition to certified tree-planting initiative, Green Gas also makes donations toward New Bedford’s Crapo Hill landfill methane digester-generator as well as the new Valley Bike Share program to promote green transportation options in Hampshire and Hampden counties. A portion also goes to Greenfield and to Greening Greenfield for renewable projects.

“You can offset the carbon footprint of your gasoline when you’re driving by making a donation to tree planting, clean energy and some local sustain initiatives,” said Madden.

He said the other Sandri stations are slated to be added this summer, followed by another set of stations around the Mid-Atlantic states soon after. Other than 20 to 30 percent for operating the nonprofit, Green Gas will contribute the donation to a combination of national and local initiatives aimed at combating climate change.

Through the voluntary donations, “We know how many gallons we need to offset, so we have to invest that in something that has a measurable, negative carbon balance,” said Madden. Based on 2015 research asking customers if they would be willing to offset their carbon use, he said, the projection is that 2 to 5 percent of customers might be willing to contribute $1 for each fill-up, and once Green Gas scales up its campaign, the effect could be considerable.

“That would raise hundreds of millions of dollars, and hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the right thing could make a real difference when it comes to addressing climate change,” said Madden. “Especially when the federal government is taking a step backwards.”