Supplier Name: Starling Bank Limited & Engine by Starling Limited (Starling)1
Publication Date: 26 May 2022

Carbon Reduction Plan

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges that we face globally, and Starling is 100% committed to playing its part in the fight against it, not just in the lead up to 2030, but starting right away. This is urgent and we know that our customers expect no less from us.”
– Anne Boden, founder and CEO of Starling Bank

At Starling, we are determined to do our part to fight climate change and protect the environment. In 2021, we became a founding member of TechZero, a climate action group for UK tech companies committed to fighting the climate crisis. We are making good progress on the road to becoming a net zero company. Our target is a one third reduction in carbon emissions from our own operations and supply chain by 20302 and, from 2021, we are offsetting our carbon emissions annually.

Commitment to achieving Net Zero

In line with the Paris Agreement, we must keep global warming to below 1.5°C (the critical level of heating needed to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis). To tackle this, we have developed permanent plans to reduce and offset our emissions to become a more sustainable bank. As a founding member of the TechZero Charter, our goal is to reduce emissions and continue to offset all remaining emissions annually.

We are making good progress on the road to becoming a net zero company. As a digital bank, our direct emissions (Scope 1 and Scope 2) are extremely low compared to more traditional banks. However, we know we can do more. Reducing our emissions will only get us so far, so part of our plan involves buying carbon avoidance and sequestration credits to offset our direct and indirect emissions. That means choosing projects like woodland creation, ocean-based or peat preservation schemes. It’s up to the Starling team to decide, and we want everyone to have a say.

As part of our sustainability journey, we have invested in eight projects that remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere or avoid further emissions. CO2 is one of several harmful greenhouse gases. We are supporting work on forest creation and protection, solar power, peatland restoration and energy efficient cookstoves.

Baseline Emissions Footprint

Starling conducted its first carbon emissions audit in 2021 and is in the process of assessing emissions for 2022 in line with the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol.

Baseline Year: 2021
Additional Details relating to the Baseline Emissions calculations.
For now, we haven’t included emissions relating to loans and investments in our Scope 3 carbon footprint breakdown as these are worked out separately with the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF). We were the first UK digital bank to join PCAF, which asks members to calculate emissions from loans and investments by following industry best practice. This is constantly evolving and we are taking guidance from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and PCAF on the best way to assess and report these going forwards.
Baseline year emissions:
EMISSIONSTOTAL (tCO2e)% of total
Scope 1Gas usage within offices150.2%
Scope 2Purchased electricity within offices1862.4%
Scope 3Purchased Goods and Services4,67660.5%
Fuel and Energy Related Activities4545.9%
Upstream Transportation and Distribution150.2%
Waste Generated in Operations210.3%
Business Travel20.0%
Employee Commuting80510.4%
Downstream Transportation and Distribution1,55120.1%
Use of Sold Products10.0%
End of Life Treatment of Sold Products40.1%
Total Emissions7,731100%

Roughly 97% of emissions fall within the Scope 3 categories, with 60% coming from purchased goods and services. Downstream transportation and distribution of letters and cards is the second greatest emissions driver, responsible for 20% of emissions, followed by employee commuting, which is responsible for 10.4%.

  • Purchased Goods and Services: Accounting for over 60% of our total carbon footprint, the purchased goods and services emission category is by far the greatest contributor. This is due to the high spend in this category and the breadth of goods and services it covers. Starling’s spend in this category in 2021 was largely driven by advertising and marketing, IT software and data centres and the acquisition of data (typically credit bureau data) to enable the offering of our products to customers.
  • Downstream Transportation and Distribution: This category accounts for emissions associated with shipping of debit cards and physical letters sent out by Starling. This covers both retail and SME customers. The significance of this emissions category can be attributed to the sheer volume of cards sent out during the reporting period as a direct result of our sizeable, and fast growing customer base.
  • Employee Commuting: As per the GHG protocol, this category includes both commuting and home working, with the latter accounting for the bulk of the category’s emissions given the working model adopted during COVID. There are three main sources of emissions associated with home working: home office equipment, lighting and heating. An employee survey highlighted that 24% of our workforce had a green electricity tariff during the reporting period. 52% of employees moving to home working resulted in additional heating emissions (based on no one previously working from home). For those commuting to an office, the survey captured the mode of transport which then enabled an assessment of the associated emissions.

Emissions Reduction Targets

In order to continue our progress to achieving Net Zero, we have adopted the following reduction targets:

  • Reduction in emissions of one third by 2030
  • Achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050 at the latest

In addition to reducing our emissions, we have committed to offset all emissions from our own operations and supply chain annually from 2021.

Carbon Reduction Projects

What has been achieved to date:

Digital-first banking. We have been branchless and paperless from the very beginning, transforming the way people traditionally manage their money.

The greener way to pay. In March 2021, our personal and business account cards became the first UK Mastercard debit cards to be made from recycled plastic. Our packaging is also 100% recyclable, including a more eco-friendly water-based glue.

Eco-friendly offices. Our three UK offices – London, Southampton and Cardiff – run on renewable energy. We also have a Cycle to Work scheme on offer, which encourages employees to get a new bike through ‘salary sacrifice’ and save tax.

Partnerships with purpose. We choose to align with businesses and causes that hold similar values to us. We also assess the environmental impact of all new partners and suppliers before we embark on new projects and relationships. In turn, this encourages our Starling customers and staff to make more mindful choices – for people and for planet.

Some of our key partnerships are detailed below:

  • Seat at the Table: In October 2021, Starling became proud sponsors of Seat at the Table: an 11-part YouTube documentary series that follows presenter Jack Harries on a journey across the UK, ending at COP 26: the UN Climate Change Summit. With over 3.7m subscribers, the filmmaker and activist shares stories from across the world of people on the frontline of climate change, from farmers to firefighters, and special guests include Sir David Attenborough and Jane Goodall.
  • Instavolt: Between July 2021 and January 2023, we supported Instavolt to help accelerate their ambitions in green transport. As a rapid electric vehicle charger network that uses 100% renewable energy, InstaVolt aims to reduce air pollution and encourage more electric cars on the road. We saw this as something worth shouting about – so much so that we branded 100 charging terminals across the UK with the Starling name.
  • Trillion Trees: Forests are the lungs of the earth and trees are one of our best defences in reducing carbon dioxide. In 2020, we created an eco-minded referral scheme for Starling personal and business customers through a fruitful partnership with Trillion Trees. Every time a customer recommended Starling to someone and that person became a new customer, we planted a tree as a thank you. By the end of our partnership in March 2023, we funded the planting of 100,000 trees.
  • Kew Gardens: London is made up of 35,000 acres of public green spaces – equivalent to 40% of its surface area – making it one of the greenest cities of its size in the world. It is hugely important to look after our parks and gardens – particularly in polluted urban environments – to nurture the UK’s biodiversity. With this in mind, we supported the summer 2021 Secret World of Plants programme at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: the UNESCO World Heritage Site and iconic London attraction.

Plans for 2022 onwards

  • Application to the Science Based Targets initiative: In October 2021, we committed to submit our application to set targets for Carbon Reduction in line with the SBTi. We are in the process of assessing our 2022 emissions and will then continue with the development of our targets ahead of submission in H2 2022.
  • Customer support: In addition to reducing our own carbon footprint, we are developing tools for our customers to enhance their awareness of their own environmental impact and provide practical advice on how they can make a difference. These tools include direction to grants and support for SME customers, carbon emissions calculators and case studies highlighting the benefits of ‘going green’. For SME customers in particular, we are working closely with the British Business Bank to align messaging and advice.
  • Employee awareness: Given the majority of our emissions are Scope 3, we are developing a communications and employee engagement strategy to ensure our workforce are well equipped to make informed decisions with regards to their day to day activities which could impact our emissions. This includes information sharing through public Slack forums, updates to job adverts and the new starter induction and changes to policies, such as our procurement policy, to ensure environmental impact is considered in vendor selection.

Declaration and Sign Off

This Carbon Reduction Plan has been completed in accordance with PPN 06/21 and associated guidance and reporting standards for Carbon Reduction Plans.

Emissions have been reported and recorded in accordance with the published reporting standard for Carbon Reduction Plans and the GHG Reporting Protocol corporate standard3 and uses the appropriate Government emission conversion factors for greenhouse gas company reporting4.

Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions have been reported in accordance with SECR requirements, and the required subset of Scope 3 emissions have been reported in accordance with the published reporting standard for Carbon Reduction plans and the Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Standard5.

This Carbon Reduction Plan has been reviewed and signed off by the board of directors (or equivalent management body).

Signed on behalf of each company:

Signature of Anne Boden, CEO & Director, Starling Bank LimitedAnne Boden
CEO & Director, Starling Bank Limited
Date: 26 May 2022

Signature of Sam Everington, CEO & Director, Engine by Starling LimitedSam Everington
CEO & Director, Engine by Starling Limited
Date: 26 May 2022