Monday, June 21, 2021
Switching from petrol generators to electric ones inspired Ape Gelato to take further climate action. It took six months to make their operations carbon negative, and part of that journey was using our Compensate Plus service.
An orange ice cream moped is a cheerful sight in Helsinki during summer. This is the fifth year that Ape Gelato is touring around town serving Italian gelato and great coffee. The company was founded by Kalle Ollberg, who fell for artisan ice cream when living in Milan.
The company owns three Piaggio Ape food trucks. At first the vehicles were powered by traditional petrol generators, which caused the company a lot of trouble and slowed down the sales process.
“The off-grid nature of the street food business led to us having to use generators, but it took a lot of time to refuel them, the oil needed changing, and the motor sometimes overheated in the sun and stopped working. The biggest issues were that the generators were not environmentally friendly, and the noise created a lot of complaints from our customers,” says Ollberg.
In the end, the company decided to switch to portable battery power packs that are silent but also emission-free. It was an eye-opening moment, which made them look at the bigger picture.
“Street food has a bit of a dirty image and we try to break that stereotype by being modern and environmentally aware. We thought, why not go carbon neutral now that we’ve gotten started,” Ollberg says.
Small companies have it easier
To get started, the Ape Gelato team set a goal. They had already reduced their emissions and now they wanted to compensate for what was left. Ollberg was already familiar with the concept of carbon offsetting, thanks to his full-time position at Kone, which has publicly announced its plan to be carbon neutral by 2030.
“Large corporations are taking this route, but for small entrepreneurs it can be even faster to get there because decision making is so much quicker. The smaller the company, the easier it is,” Ollberg says.
The first step was to calculate his company’s carbon footprint. Ollberg estimated this using our Compensate Plus calculator, trying to be as accurate as possible, and often overestimating the numbers.
While the three ice cream trucks are diesel powered, they are not the company’s main cause of emissions. The biggest source turned out to be the electricity used by the storage space and the ice cream modules that keep the product cool.
Plans to expand
In the end the whole process of switching to low-emission generators and offsetting the leftover emissions took the Ape Gelato team six months. Ollberg is pleased how everything turned out.
“It was all very easy. There were a few times when I had some questions and the customer service was great at helping me out. On top of that, offsetting our emissions was surprisingly cost-effective,” he says.
The operational side of his business is now carbon negative, but Ollberg believes that the company will take things further by taking a good look at the full value chain. This would mean getting their suppliers involved to ensure that the manufacturing of the vehicles, ice cream, and other accessories would also be assessed for sustainability.
“Now that I have seen how efficient compensation is, I believe that we will expand the concept. But we are a small business and it’s hard to change everything at once. Compensating for our emissions has given us peace of mind knowing that at least our operations don’t cause harm to the climate.”
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"For small entrepreneurs it can be even faster to get to carbon neutral because decision making is so much quicker. The smaller the company, the easier it is."