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Overhead view of green forest and water.
Overhead view of green forest and water.

Building one of the world’s first fractionalized carbon offset marketplaces

Carbon offsetting made smarter


Reducing the world's carbon footprint is a challenge facing us all, and many innovators are using new technologies to tackle it in creative ways. One such organization taking a different approach to climate action is Tradewater: a mission-based company headquartered in Chicago that develops projects to prevent greenhouse gas emissions. Tradewater's global collection networks obtain refrigerants, considered ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and potent greenhouse gases (GHG), and destroys them — permanently preventing their release into the atmosphere. This work results in independently verified carbon offset credits and economic development benefits for communities around the world.

In 2019, Tradewater had a much bigger and brighter vision for the future of carbon offsetting than what was available in the existing market. Traditionally, consumers could only purchase carbon offset credits in metric tons, an extensive measurement that's out of reach for most everyday climate-concerned people. Tradewater saw the opportunity to create a more democratized carbon offset marketplace, leveraging software engineering to fractionalize carbon offset credits down to as low as a gram. They also intended to implement a web-based calculator platform where anyone could measure their carbon footprints and purchase fractionalized offset credits to address their emissions. Tradewater had strong ideas of centralizing carbon credit purchase for consumers but needed advanced development resources to bring the project forward. That's how Tradewater found a partner in Thoughtworks.

Thoughtworks has been a wonderful partner of ours since the beginning. We’ve always enjoyed working with Thoughtworks on the range of crazy ideas we come up with. So for this particular project, Thoughtworks was a natural partner to turn to.
Tim Brown
CEO, Tradewater

Dedicated to making an impact


With social impact being an essential component of Thoughtworks' purpose, the partnership with Tradewater was a natural fit. With a strong existing relationship, we were able to provide the website architecture and infrastructure in less than 60 days. First, a visioning workshop helped determine the value proposition, creating a project roadmap. Next came the discovery phase, which yielded the idea of genuinely bespoke carbon offsetting — an accountable, transparent and visual system to instill trust in the user. The concept of creating a subscription model, where consumers can offset greenhouse gases monthly, also came out of the discovery session.


Tradewater and Thoughtworks created the world's first fractionalized offset management system for carbon credits. Using state-of-the-art emission factors embedded in Tradewater's carbon calculators, users can measure the carbon impact of their daily life and purchase and retire fractions of carbon offset credits with complete documentation. For example, it's now possible to accurately offset individual or household emissions, an event, travel and more. In addition, the system generates a certificate directly associated with the credits purchased, providing documentation that the credits were retired in their name. The subscription model allows users to offset a monetary amount once a month, or users can choose to offset as needed in a one-time transaction.


A little goes a long way


Tradewater is a genuine case of innovation yielding solid results. In one year, Tradewater saw offset credit subscriptions grow by 419%, and a rate of single purchases spike of 422%*. These numbers represent 15,042 tons of CO2e or the equivalent of removing 3,721 passenger vehicles from the road for one year, eliminating the use of 1,692,585 gallons of gasoline, or avoiding the yearly electrical use of 2,732 homes. Tradewater now has a robust online platform, allowing them to reach climate-concerned consumers and build environmental commitments over time through its subscription model. Users can offset their lifestyle with the calculator, and the systems are compliant, unique and precisely match the demand volume of buyers. In 2021, Tradewater reached 5,100,000 tons of CO2e destroyed through its operations in the United States, Ghana and the Dominican Republic.

Want to calculate your own carbon footprint? Try out the tool here.





*Annual growth rates in purchases/subscriptions at time of filming. Video refers to the increase in total number of buyers in the same period.




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