E) Reduce Criteo’s environmental impact

1. General environmental policy

At Criteo, people care about the environment. Although there is currently no formal global environmental policy in place, the company is conscious of its ecological footprint, and aims to minimize it. Each Criteo employee has a responsibility towards the planet and even as a tech company, Criteo can act in its own way by understanding where its negative impacts on the environment are located and work to reduce them through local initiatives and global business transformation.

The nature of Criteo’s activities leads the company to implement tangible actions on several aspects such as: management of the data centers and its data resources, promotion of green offices, and awareness raising among workers on sustainable practices that will prevent harmful consequences for the environment or human health.

a. Data centers & resource management

To ensure constant business efficiency, Criteo’s operations rely on large data center units and several smaller networking rooms, also known as “Points of Presence” (POPS). POPS are similar to small-sized data centers. In 2017, Criteo has installed its servers in 13 data centers worldwide, all of which belong to external service suppliers. Among those 13 locations, eight are data processing centers and the remaining five host POPS servers. Criteo’s server infrastructure accounts for one of its largest environmental impact.

Since 2016, Criteo has enforced specific policies for its data centers and has upgraded its environmental requirements. One example is that the company increased the guarantee period of servers from three to five years to reduce machines renewal rate. The company also made it mandatory that server delivery should be packaged in boxes of 10 units to reduce plastic and cardboard waste.

In order to reach a responsible use of its infrastructure needs, Criteo must size them according to expected growth. In 2017, a team dedicated to capacity planning was created to ensure optimal allocation of infrastructure resources according to business objectives: this means that full time human resources are now dedicated to optimizing Criteo’s infrastructure usage, making it rational and efficient regarding costs and power usage. As a result, robust growth forecasts have been implemented, establishing reliable budget and actions to reduce costs and energy consumption.

Moreover, Criteo is working to enhance sustainable practices among vendors for both services (hosting and hardware recycling) and hardware procurement. For each new Criteo project, the company releases a request for proposal (RFP) to several potential partners, and one of the main criteria of the decision matrix is labeled as “Eco Responsibility”. Through this criterion, Criteo attempts to gain deep vendor insight with regard to their environmental sustainability business practices and focus on questions as described below (non-exhaustive list):

  • Do you provide renewable energy options?
  • Are you engaged in any green collaboration with your supplier?
  • Are you in the process of improving your LEED Certification (or equivalent)?
  • Do you follow Green Grid and/or TIA-942 specifications?
  • Do you propose servers end of line buy out model? If yes, please precise terms & conditions (server age/quantity per year and per model).
  • Do you propose servers recycling process? If yes, please precise terms and conditions and if you provide a recycling certification.
  • Please describe your building’s energy saving process.
  • Please give a precise explanation of your power usage effectiveness (PUE) calculation/measure.

All of the above are part of the questionnaire used in Criteo’s data center RFP.

In addition of those criteria, a specific appendix has been added in the RFP template regarding the endorsement of the European code of conduct on data center energy efficiency which requests Criteo’s suppliers to describe their activity on a key set of best practices. This code of conduct was launched in 2008 with the aim of improving the energy efficiency in data centers; it is a voluntary initiative, managed by the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission, which sets ambitious voluntary standards for companies willing to participate. At the heart of this code of conduct are the “best practices guidelines” which indicate the areas for energy efficiency upgrades in data centers, covering day-to-day operations, equipment substitution, major refurbishment and new data center design.

b. Sustainable offices

Criteo is committed to sustainability and ensures it locates its workforce within the most environmental-friendly buildings.

As an example, the building housing Criteo’s headquarters in Paris is NF HQE certified (certification attesting to high environmental quality). This building alone represents 31% of the total surface area of all offices worldwide.

Similarly, the Criteo office in Beijing is ISO 14001 certified and the Singapore office is located in a building that has been awarded the prestigious Green Mark Platinum Award. Moreover, the Miami and Boston offices are respectively situated in a LEED Gold building and a LEED Silver property.

Although Criteo does not have a procurement policy regarding sustainable buildings, the company always selects healthy accommodation with best practices regarding the environment.

c. Green initiatives

At its current stage of development, Criteo mainly relies on local initiatives to promote environmental responsibility, led by individual offices or employees. For example, new hire on-boarding training covers topics on printing best practices (e.g. print on both sides in black & white) and various local initiatives such as clothes recycling and tree planting. To raise and maintain employees’ awareness and commitment of the 3R’s of the environment — Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle — Criteo uses internal communication campaigns.

New initiatives in 2017 include work with three non-governmental organizations: “Legambiente”, “Humana People to People” and “Lifegate”. These organizations provide training regarding the protection of the environment, clothes recycling but also regarding food waste and recycling in general.

Criteo also created a Criteo forest with the support of “Tree-Nation”: Criteo planted more than 100 trees in a chosen Africa region. This project also included training on environmental protection.

In 2017 Criteo also continued to raise awareness among its employees for them to commit to day to day actions in their offices and at home in order to reduce their impact on the environment. In 2017, Criteo agreed an action with the ADEME (“Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie” in French) during the European Week of Waste Reduction in November 2017 and proposed several workshops throughout the week on the 3R's strategy.

2) Circular economy

a. Waste production

One of the main CSR ambitions at Criteo is the ability to measure its recycling effort, control the waste production of its activities, use alternative methods for waste collection and sorting (such as keeping waste out of the landfills), and move towards a zero waste business. The company intends to track its recycling rate in the coming years, for both e-waste2 and office waste.

2 Electronic waste, or commonly called “e-waste”, describes discarded electrical components or electronic devices.

Waste 2016 2017 Var.
E-waste from data centers (equipment not resalable on the market) N/A 3.2 tons -
E-waste from offices
Total 5.15 tons 2.01 tons -61%
Recycling rate N/A 13.5% -
Office waste
Total 237.3 tons 294.7 tons 24%
Total per employee 133 kg/​employee 120 kg/​employee -10%


In 2017, thanks to the mobilization of the R&D, Internal IT and Workplace Experience teams, Criteo has taken 2 important steps in terms of e-waste reporting:

  1. Criteo has been able to gather reliable information regarding the e-waste from offices recycling effort (recycling rate).
  2. Criteo has refined the definition of the e-waste from data centers. Thus, when a server, hardware or other IT equipment from data centers reach their end of shelf-life or during a data center decommissioning, Criteo resells it to brokers and a part of this equipment is resold at zero cost. Those equipment, collected by Criteo’s brokers, have no commercial value on the market (due to their age or outdated versions) and can therefore logically be considered as e-waste. In 2017, 31.9 tons of IT equipment from data centers were resold on the market, among which 3.2 tons has been resold to brokers for $0 which represents Criteo’s e-waste from data centers.

In the coming months, Criteo is aiming to work even closer with its brokers to understand and track the actual final use of decommissioned equipment without market value.

Office waste

All offices sort and recycle waste whenever possible. Criteo has equipped most offices with waste recycling bins, and some even have battery recycling containers, such as the Beijing and London offices. In addition, clear signs on waste classification procedures are on display in most of Criteo’s offices to ensure that employees scrupulously follow them. To limit waste, employees are encouraged to use mugs instead of disposable cups in several offices.

Since July 2017, the Paris office has replaced its disposable Nespresso cups by “EcoCups” made from corn starch and entirely recyclable. Criteo is currently running this initiative as a test in the Paris office and is expecting to extend it to other offices shortly. To encourage waste reduction, the company also ran a communication campaign and organized a cup-free day. In the South Europe offices (Milan, Barcelona, and Madrid), metallic bottles for water and mugs for coffee are used to reduce paper cup usage.

b. Paper consumption

Employees aim to limit paper consumption. The nature of Criteo’s business allows them to promote a paperless work model. If printing is necessary, employees are advised to reuse one-sided printed paper or print double sided when possible. This has even been configured as the default printing configuration in Beijing, Singapore, Paris and eight of the offices in the Americas. At the Seoul, Tokyo, and Sydney offices, paper recycling boxes have been installed to encourage employees to recycle and reuse the paper.

Paper 2016 2017 Var.
Paper consumption
Total 6.7 tons 6.3 tons -7%
Total per employee 3.8 kg/​employee 2.6 kg/​employee -32%
Total from sustainable paper brand 4.50 tons 4.9 tons 9%
Part from sustainable paper brand 67% 78%

Criteo is also committed to avoiding food waste. Consequently, when social events are organized, food is ordered based on a pre-determined headcount. For example, an out-of-office team calendar has been implemented to track the absentees for monthly team lunches, hence food is ordered based on that month’s attendance. After team lunches, employees are encouraged to pack leftovers and take them home. Despite the fact that the Paris building has a well-equipped company restaurant, it is not directly managed by Criteo. Hence, other measures to reduce food waste are limited to the food service provider principles.

In order to reduce the food waste during company events, the Paris office partnered again with the social company “Phenix” who collect leftover food from the catering facilities and organize immediate redistribution. This partnership has been extended to all departments organizing events to ensure consistency in the actions with the social enterprise. In addition, any remaining food from the orders from the corporate restaurant is redistributed to the “Saint-Eustache” church association.

c. Water consumption

To limit its ecological footprint, Criteo has deployed sustainable development practices regarding water use. In most offices, sensor-equipped faucets and two-level flushing toilets have been installed.

In most offices, Criteo tries not to offer bottled water, only filtered water, as well as reusable dishware or metallic bottles that are given to newcomers in order to reduce packaging waste and unnecessary water consumption.

Water 2016 2017 Var.
Water consumption
Total 19,018 m3 25,239 m3 33%
Total per employee 10.7 m3/​employee 10.3 m3/​employee -4%

d. Energy consumption

Reduce energy consumption

While Criteo does not own the buildings that it occupies, there is a company-wide commitment to limit energy consumption. In this spirit, energy saving initiatives are decided and implemented independently in each office. Criteo has deployed numerous actions aimed at reducing energy consumption at both its offices and data centers.

In the France, Singapore and Tokyo offices, lighting is automatically switched off at night. Similarly, in a few European offices, including the London office, lighting is motion sensor activated. Numerous projects are underway both in APAC and EMEA to install LED lighting where feasible. In the Americas, Los Angeles is 100% LED lit while New York has a 57% LED lighting component.

Air conditioning is also a source of energy consumption that Criteo aims to monitor and control. For example, the air-conditioning system is automatically shut off during the evening directly after normal working hours in the London, Singapore and Japan offices, and is significantly reduced in the Paris office. In the Americas, New York’s HVAC is set to run from 6 am to 6 pm in the warmer months and 8 am to 6 pm in the cooler months with a threshold set-point of 68 degrees Fahrenheit when heat to turns on.

In the Milan office, electricity is 100% provided by a green energy supplier, Lifegate, which also plants tree to compensate for energy transportation pollution.

In order to reduce the energy consumption due to the storage of Criteo’s internal data, especially the emails storage, Criteo took advantage of the 2017 summer holiday season to launch a communication campaign about cleaning up emails. This campaign will probably be repeated next year with concrete reduction goals and higher awareness raising among employees.

Monitor energy consumption

In 2016, Criteo employees launched the “Carbonite” project, an initiative related to energy consumption. The goal of the project is to monitor the energy consumption of Criteo’s data centers. A key outcome of the project was the deployment of an algorithm to estimate real-time energy consumption based on power flows. A dashboard was created to show data center power usage and the corresponding quantity of CO2 emissions. The metrics are based on Criteo’s infrastructure power usage in kWh, data center power usage effectiveness3 (PUE) and kgCO2/kWh charts. The 2016 electricity consumption of data centers presented below are based on the Carbonite project’s estimations.

In 2017, the R&D team started to raise awareness among data room providers regarding Criteo’s need for a better tracking of the energy consumption of its servers. Criteo managed to collect real electricity consumption for all its data center locations. Therefore, the 2017 electricity consumption of data centers presented below relies on actual consumption and no longer on an internal estimation method. The 42% increase in the data center electricity consumption between 2016 and 2017 is explained by the increase in the infrastructure needs.

3Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is a ratio of how efficiently a computer data center uses energy; it contrasts the energy used by the computing equipment with the energy used for cooling and other overhead. The ratio corresponds to the total amount of energy used by a computer data center facility to the energy delivered to computing equipment: PUE = (Total Facility Energy)/(IT Equipment Energy).

Electricity 2016 2017 Var.
Total 4,969 MWh 5,675 MWh 14%
Total per employee 2.7 MWh/​employee 2.3 MWh/​employee -18%
Total from renewable energy 945 MWh 1,196 MWh 27%
Part from renewable energy 19% 21%
Data center
Total 21,345 MWh 30,363 MWh 42%
Total from renewable energy 2,921 MWh 4,532 MWh 55%
Part from renewable energy 14% 15%

3. Climate change

At Criteo, people are concerned about climate change. Reducing greenhouse gases and, first and foremost, being able to understand its emission level, is a goal for Criteo.

Electricity consumption

The most significant greenhouse gas emissions come from the electricity consumed in its offices and data centers and during business trips4.

In order to implement company-scale and reasonable actions, Criteo is now aware of which emission source the company can directly control (such as its use of electricity) and which source the company can still influence through good practice and policies (such as business trips). Criteo tries to limit them by avoiding flights whenever possible, attending video conferences instead of physical meetings, and choosing public transportation over individual cars or taxis. As a consequence, Criteo does not offer company cars in its employees’ compensation packages.

CO2 emissions 2016 2017 Var.
From electricity consumption (offices)
Total 1,348 tCO2 1,571 tCO2 17%
Total per employee 0.8 tCO2/​employee 0.6 tCO2/​employee -25%
From electricity consumption (data centers)
Total 12,503 tCO2 17,259 tCO2 38%
From business trips
Total 8,035 tCO2 6,517 tCO2 -19%
Total per employee 4.5 tCO2/​employee 2.7 tCO2/​employee -40%

As shown in this table, Criteo has reduced its air travel capacity at the end of 2017 thanks to the “smart spending” initiative. The direct consequence is a decrease of the company CO2 emissions from business trips by 19% between 2016 and 2017.

Refrigerant systems leakage

Besides the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its direct energy consumption, another of Criteo’s most significant indirect sources of emissions is the leakage from refrigerant systems, used to cool down data center rooms. In order to gain a better understanding of its data centers’ impact on the atmosphere, Criteo is trying to estimate the total CO2 volume released during refrigerant leaks. Criteo is working closely with its service providers to gather enough information to produce a reliable status report for the upcoming years.

Resource consumption

In 2017, Criteo’s CTO set the objective to increase business & technical efficiency, and to better track resource usage. Criteo employees ran the “Footprint” initiative which provides profitability metrics of internal projects, allowing a comparison between the revenue and the cost of revenue (in terms of infrastructure for example). As a result, Footprint dashboards have been implemented and are being used standardly by teams as decision-making tools.

Another good practice launched in 2017 by the “Hadoop Guild” is the systematic reporting on user computer-based resource consumption, providing granular information on every processing job. This tracking gives a good measure of job performance and allows the detection of potential optimization or unexpected increases in resource consumption. There are two direct benefits of this policy. First, it provides a focus on resource consumption to either decrease it when possible or constrain it in the nominal cases. Moreover, those metrics can detect production incidents much faster, which not only reduces detection delay, but also recovery cost.

4According to the greenhouse gas protocol methodology, Criteo can classify its greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity consumption and business trips respectively to scope 2 and scope 3.


To further reduce its carbon footprint, Criteo is also looking at ways to minimize the use of individually operated private cars. Many of Criteo’s offices are located in areas easily accessible by public transportation, without a parking lot, therefore discouraging employees from commuting with their private cars. In many of Criteo’s offices, the public transportation is subsidized to promote the public transportation usage.

In China, a shuttle bus service is in place to transport employees to and from the Metro. In EMEA, a “day without a car” is promoted annually and some offices share the possibility to organize ride sharing and regular carpool trips. In the Americas, the New York, Boston, San Francisco, Sao Paulo and Miami offices have shower facilities to help support active, carbonless commuting among employees.

4. Biodiversity

At Criteo, people value biodiversity. Although Criteo’s industry is not likely to impact biodiversity and has very little control over this environmental aspect, Criteo is trying to do its share. To that end, employees have placed birds’ nests on the roof of the London office, and are considering other similar initiatives in other offices.

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