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This newly minted shipping logistics company is the first Canadian business in its sector to offer carbon offsets.

Ten minutes into a conversation with Freightzy founder and president Sean Freedman and you’ll be clear on one thing in particular: You’re talking to someone who is passionate about his sector and his business. He is full of enthusiasm for his shipping logistics company, based out of Guelph, Ont., which launched just days before the pandemic hit in March 2020. “I had spent 10 years as a sales agent for a large US company called Trinity Logistics and, in that time, I had grown quite a bit. I’d hired a small team and we were doing really well under the US umbrella. But in the fall of 2019, I started thinking about what I really wanted to do, and about starting my own freight brokerage.” But shipping logistics — which involves planning, organizing and managing the movement of goods — is an expensive sector, so Freedman had to figure out how to get the company off the ground. “I was referred to the local branch of Business Development Bank of Canada, and they were great,” says Freedman. “They saw the value of what we were trying to do, and based on projections, I was able to get enough seed capital to get the ball rolling on hiring, insurance and more.” Seventeen months later, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 global health crisis, Freightzy has cleared just over USD $6.4 million in sales. But Freedman knew when he started Freightzy that he wanted to take his freight brokerage a step further and offer something not yet seen in this sector in Canada: a way to balance out the environmental impact caused by shipping. Late last year, after much research, Freedman landed on carbon offsetting as an option.

Carbon offsets allow companies to invest in environmental projects to offset their own emissions, thus balancing out their carbon footprints. It’s an imperfect solution to a complicated problem, because not all offsets are created equal, but it’s a step in the right direction. “I knew the science wasn’t perfect, but the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) reports that transportation is by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and that that number is projected to grow,” says Freedman. “At this point I’d spent my career in transportation, and as someone who has always been a concerned citizen when it comes to the environment, I knew I had to do something.”

Gold Standard offsets improve the lives of those who are the least responsible for carbon emissions and least economically equipped
to handle climate change fallout.

Freight brokerages act as intermediaries between companies and carriers, so Freedman knew he was in a unique position to make a difference. “Where we do most of our business, in the US or cross-border trades, more than 90 percent of carriers have six trucks or less,” he says. “That extreme fragmentation means that any kind of solution to climate change is hard. I realized that brokerages like us had a role to play.” So, Freedman reached out to Bullfrog Power, a renewable energy solutions company in the GTA that helps businesses and organizations to displace carbon emissions. “They immediately saw the value and totally got what we wanted to do, so they were very interested in partnering in a carbon neutral shipping solution,” says Freedman.

Through Bullfrog’s sister company, Less Emissions, a program was created to offer Freightzy clients the option to purchase Gold Standard carbon offsets. These are high-quality offsets that improve the lives of those who are the least responsible for carbon emissions and least economically equipped to handle the fallout from climate change. Freightzy’s carbon offsetting program supports three projects: a solid waste treatment plant in Vietnam that captures methane gas emissions from municipal waste and converts organic materials into sustainable compost for local farmers; a biogas project in Thailand that captures gaseous fuels from wastewater and converts it to electricity; and a waste-heat-capture project at a glassworks plant in China, where boilers convert waste into electricity for glass production. Freightzy began pilot-testing the program with two clients in January 2021 and has since expanded the offering to approximately 10 shippers. As of July, Freightzy has helped their customers to offset more than 174 metric tones of CO2; according to the US EPA, this is the equivalent of 437,296 miles being driven by a passenger vehicle.

“I’m happy with how this is going so far,” says Freedman, “and I’m glad we’re making strides toward positive change, but I’m hoping we’ll get more clients on the program as time goes on.” The next step for Freightzy is to automate their quoting software to show the potential CO2 levels that could be offset from a job. “Right now, everything we’re doing on the carbon offset program is very manual,” says Freedman. “It takes a lot of time to do the calculations, and we want to have a system that does it for us, to show clients the difference they could be making.” For Freedman, it feels personal, too: “You know, being an entrepreneur is stressful, and for me, I relieve stress by being outdoors. So, it’s kind of full circle. If we don’t take care of the environment, we just won’t have it in the years to come. As a dad, too, that is a big deal to me.”

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