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AAA Carbon Offsets is the division of Seagate Global Resources, LLC managing its AAA Carbon Offset Program. Its carbon offsets are based on the number tons of boxes and paper SGR recycles, thereby saving trees that store on average 48 pounds of carbon per year. Recycling 2.4 tons of boxes saves trees that store one ton of carbon per year, the amount needed for one carbon credit. Soon SGR will be processing 120.000 tons/year and be able to issue 50,000 carbon credits/year as SGR expands recycling in the US.


Here are the 14 criteria that AAA uses to rate carbon offsets:

  1. Profitability- The integrity and long-term viability of an offset rests on the underlying profitability of the activity that produces the offset. If the activity is highly profitable while reducing, eliminating, and/or storing carbon, more funding can be obtained to expand the program which is what is needed to fight climate change. This is a criterion no other carbon rating protocol includes, but it is critical to get carbon reduction to scale.     

  2. Price (value)- The lower the price of the offset, the higher the rating. If the underlying activity is profitable, and the cost to produce the offsets is low, then they can be sold for a lower price.

  3. Science based- The more certain the science behind the offset, the higher the rating.

  4. Amount of carbon reduction- The higher the amount of carbon that can be reduced, eliminated, the higher the rating.

  5. Ability to remove and store carbon- Oxford University and others agree that activities that remove and store existing carbon are to be rated higher than those that reduce current emissions.

  6. Scalability- Projects that are scalable are rated higher than those that are not in order to promote the creation of more needed carbon offsets.

  7. Contributes to sustainable development-Projects that promote sustainable development are rated higher than those that do not.

  8. Technology risk- The lower the technology risk, using proven technologies versus new technologies and approaches that are not proven at scale, the higher the rating.

  9. Timing- Projects that produce immediate results are rated higher than those that produce benefits 10 to 20 years in the future as many scientists are concerned especially about reducing dramatically in the next 7 years. (1)

  10. Other risks to the underlying project- The lower the risk of the underlying project or activity, the higher the rating.

  11. Governance- The better the underlying governance and program design, the higher the rating. This includes qualified third-party verification, reporting, and online access to projects and activities.

  12. Offsetting negatives of implementing the strategy- Results must be net positive considering any negatives of implementing the strategy.

  13. Additional benefits- Some projects provide additional benefits to carbon offsetting, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental and social benefits. The more the additional benefits, the higher the rating.

  14. Ability to execute- The more experienced the management team, proof of concept, execution, and track record, the higher the rating.

We provide the following ratings to the 14 criteria for box recycling to explain why AAA Carbon Offsets are rated AAA:


Rating Summary: AAA Carbon Offsets are well named because they receive an overall rating of AAA:

  1. Profitability- Box and paper recycling is profitable. SGR’s recycling subsidiary has profitably been recycling boxes and paper since 2014. (Factor rating: AAA)

  2. Price of the carbon offsets- Recycling boxes and paper produces a profit while also removing 1 ton of carbon from the atmosphere for each 2.4 tons recycled. Therefore, the cost of the box recycling carbon offsets can be set low. Compare this to direct air capture programs which cost up to $800/ton per offset. (Factor rating: AAA)

  3. Science based- MIT, the US EPA,  and many others identify box and paper recycling as one of the most important and cost-effective methods to fight climate change, especially when matched with tree planting programs. (2) (Factor rating: AAA)

  4. Amount of carbon reduction- The definitive article on natural climate solutions produced by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ranks forest conservation (such as box and paper recycling to save trees) as one of the top 3 climate mitigation potential strategies.  The others are reforestation and natural forest management (3)  SGR’s strategy to increase the US recycling rate of boxes and paper from 67% to 100%, and onshore recycling back to the US will eliminate and help store over 13 million tons of carbon per year. (Factor rating: AAA)

  5. Ability to remove and store carbon- Box and paper recycling saves 17 trees per ton recycled. Each tree on average captures and stores 48.5 pounds of carbon per year, or 0.41 tons of carbon/year. (Factor rating: AAA)

  6. Scalability- Box and paper recycling in the is highly scalable, with 33 mm metric tons of boxes and paper still  not being recycled, and 21 mm tons being shipped overseas annually. (Factor rating: AAA)

  7. Contributes to sustainable development- Box and paper recycling is at the core of any sustainable economic development. (Factor rating: AAA)

  8. Technology risk- There is zero technology risk to recycle boxes and paper. The basic machinery and technology have been perfected over decades and billions of tons are being recycled. (Factor rating: AAA)

  9. Timing- Many scientists advocate strategies that have an immediate impact to reduce and store carbon now rather than years down the road, many highlighting recycling as providing an immediate impact, not 10-20 year down the road as in tree planting. (Factor rating: AAA)

  10. Other risks to the underlying project- Creating carbon offsets requires an underlying operating company to perform the activities that reduce carbon, all of which entail other risks to a greater or lesser extent. The lower those risks, the higher the rating. Box and paper recycling is a simple business, and most risks are covered by insurance.  (Factor rating: AAA)

  11. Governance- The better the governance, the higher the rating. The nascent carbon offset market has experienced a number of governance issues. International investment managers such as Seagate Global are experts in safely structuring and managing complex governance issues.  SGR has applied those skills to its carbon offset program. SGR utilizes an outside escrow agent to control funds, verify the shipment of each container of paper and boxes to recycling plants where the stock is in fact recycled, and provides online access to track each container.  (Factor rating: AAA)

  12. Offsetting negatives of implementing the strategy- Any strategy has environmental pluses and minuses. It does take energy and other resources to recycle boxes and paper, but much less than if boxes and paper are made from virgin cut timber. (Factor rating: AAA)

  13. Additional benefits- Box and paper recycling is an environmentally friendly strategy. In addition to removing and storing carbon, box recycling provides a plethora of other environmental and social benefits:

    1. Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by  2,205 pounds

    2. Conserves 7,000 gallons of water

    3.  Saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill

    4.  Reduces electric consumption  by 4,000 KW of energy

    5.  Saves 380 gallons of oil

    6. Creates jobs                        (Factor rating: AAA)                          

  14.   Ability to execute- The higher the quality, experience and track record of the team operating the strategy, the higher the rating.  SGR’s team has been recycling boxes and paper successfully since 2014. (Factor rating: AAA)

The overall rating for Seagate Global Resources' carbon offsets is AAA.  This framework can be used to compare box recycling carbon offsets with others. The only way we can see to get to AAA+ is to combine box and paper recycling with tree planting programs. 

1. UN climate report: It’s ‘now or never’ to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees | UN News

2. Why don't we just plant a lot of trees? | MIT Climate Portal

3.  Natural climate solutions (

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