The second week of March saw the launch of GreenSwapp, an Amsterdam–based grocery delivery app promoting carbon-neutrality. GreenSwapp shows customers the carbon footprint of their food, enabling them to make informed decisions before buying. The aim is for shoppers to reduce their groceries impact on the environment and stay within a specific limit, aka knows as the “carbon budget”, so that the planet doesn’t warm by more than 1.5 C. The app is not vegan per-say, and customers can purchase animal-based products but by highlighting the impact that different food choices have on the environment and offering lower-impact alternatives, users are encouraged to make substitutes. Customers pay a small fee to carbon-offset the items bought, which are then delivered to them by bike.
To give an example, GreenSwapp offers a range of milks which appear in order of impact. Plant-based milks are lower-impact than cow’s milk, therefore the customer sees them first. If a customer does scroll down and click on the cow’s milk version, they can still buy it but are informed that from a carbon footprint perspective, this is the worst option and that any of the plant milks would be better. The app then gives both positive and negative information about each choice. In the case of dairy milk, the available brand is organic so the positive mentions that there are no fertilisers and pesticides used in the cow-feed. The negatives section addresses how much land and water are required to produce dairy milk and suggests the plant-based alternatives.
During GreenSwapp’s first week, business was slow, but week 2 coincided with the start of the Corona lockdown. On Sunday 15th March, the Dutch government closed down all physical restaurants until at least 6th April. This was GreenSwapp ‘s second week of business, and they received 6 times as many orders than week one. Then on 23rd March further restrictions were announced including a ban on public gatherings until 1st June and the possibility of fines. During this third week sales doubled from week 2.
GreenSwapp is partnered with several local market stallholders. Wherever possible, their products are sourced through local businesses, then delivered by cargo bike to the customers at home. A large proportion are families with children. At present GreenSwapp is not experiencing any significant issues with their supply chain. In week 2, they did experience problems getting toilet rolls but that was the case all over Amsterdam. A more pressing issue for them is being able to collect and deliver goods to their customers, especially if demand continues to grow. With this aim they are recruiting volunteers to get products to their customers.
Even though customers can buy animal products, the majority of goods purchased are vegan. Bananas are the number 1 item bought by GreenSwapp customers to date. 14 out of the top 15 items purchased are fruits or vegetables. The only animal -based product in the top 15 is organic free-range eggs at number 9.
In addition to the delivery app, GreenSwapp partners with business to help them become carbon-neutral. In Amsterdam many companies provide lunches for their office-based employees. GreenSwapp is partnered with a local vegan chef to provide recipes and deliver ingredients for low-impact, climate-friendly and mostly vegan meals. The companies then also get their total climate-impact compensated through the Gold Standard carbon-offsets. This side of things is of course on hold whilst workers stay home but will continue to be developed further at the end of the crisis period. GreenSwapp’s sister company Green Insights, also helps companies carry out an impact (carbon footprint) analysis of their entire supply chain, and advises them on how to operate in a more carbon-neutral way.