Sustainable web search with Ecosia: METRO plants trees while searching the web

30 November 2018Download

Since June 2018 the ecological web search engine Ecosia has been the new standard search engine of METRO AG and its tech unit METRO-NOM. Ecosia uses at least 80% of its profits from search ad revenue for global reforestation projects – that way, more than 43 million trees have been planted since 2009.

Reforestation project in Tanzania - Ecosia GmbH

Reforestation project in Tanzania - Ecosia GmbH,

“Becoming sustainable in everything we do” – this is the claim of the wholesale and food specialist METRO AG and its associated companies. That this commitment to nature and the environment can be very integrated into the daily work routines of the employees and become a tangible experience for them is demonstrated by the cooperation of METRO AG and the green search engine Ecosia. The latter has been the defaulted standard search engine of the Düsseldorf-based group since June – with a positive side effect: every internet search has since been supporting reforestation projects around the world.  

“Steering METRO towards sustainability means identifying the potential for change also in the small things that make up our everyday working life”, says Heiko Hutmacher, Member of the Management Board of METRO AG responsible for Sustainability. At METRO, too, internet search engines are used hundreds of times every day. “Since June, each of our search processes has contributed to supporting reforestation projects around the world on a daily basis. No additional effort in their daily work routines is needed on the part of the employees, but the impact is huge. Since June, we have planted more than 5,500 trees. I look forward to leveraging the full potential of this green cooperation”, continues Hutmacher.

The idea of using Ecosia as the search engine for METRO was introduced by METRO-NOM, the tech unit of METRO. Their employees initiated and implemented the project in just a few weeks’ time thereby demonstrating that sustainability does not only originate from the people within the wholesale company but can also be scaled-up and made visible with the help of technology.

Founded in December 2009, the search engine Ecosia allows users to do good deeds during their web search – at no extra cost and without any additional effort: the search engine uses at least 80% of its profits from search ad revenue for planting trees. Ecosia creates transparency by publishing monthly financial reports showing users how much money it made and how much money it was able to channel into the support of the different reforestation projects. “I founded Ecosia almost 9 years ago because I wanted to offer internet users a green alternative to conventional search engines. I wanted to help protect this planet. Trees play a key role in mitigating the effects of climate change. Search engines make money whenever users click on ads. The profits made in the industry are immense. At Ecosia, we use those profits to plant trees, capitalizing on an established system to make reforestation scalable. This allows us to make a real difference”, says Ecosia’s founder and CEO Christian Kroll explaining the mission of this green search engine alternative from Germany. To irrevocably and in a legally binding way ensure the use of the company’s profits for the common good and protect Ecosia from being divested, Kroll donated shares to the Purpose foundation in autumn 2018. The Purpose network assists companies in remaining independent and purposeful in the long term perspective.

Ecosia has planted more than 43 million trees since 2009, a forest area equivalent to 44,000 hectares or 61,000 soccer pitches. That way, the search engine and its users have also contributed to absorbing more than 1.5 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. Ecosia’s goal is to plant 1 billion trees by 2020. Currently, the company supports 19 tree planting projects around the world including project sites in Spain, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Madagascar. With these reforestation projects Ecosia also supports people and communities, for example by planting cashew trees that help people earn a living. In addition, reforestation contributes to making the soil fertile again, thus allowing to plant various agricultural plants. As trees contribute to the water cycle, also the local wells carry more water again. That way, Ecosia not only helps the environment, but also the local people involved in the projects.

“The idea of using Ecosia as default search engine came from the teams at METRO-NOM. It is simply a great example of how technology can drive sustainability,” says Timo Salzsieder, CIO of METRO AG and CEO of METRO-NOM. The main changes for several thousand METRO employees on the Düsseldorf Campus: while searching on the internet, they are now planting trees – without having to adapt their usual processes. “The response has been very positive so far as sustainability is not only one of the guiding principles of METRO, it is a topic that matters to our employees, hence their interest to contribute to our sustainability goals,” continues Salzsieder. To render the contributions made by the METRO employees to the global reforestation projects of Ecosia visible, a "counter for planted trees" will be launched on the intranet shortly.

The cooperation of METRO AG and METRO-NOM with Ecosia marks only the beginning of their partnership. “Our ambition is to extend the implementation of Ecosia to the METRO countries worldwide step-by-step within a sustainable-growth-approach for the search engine. With this, we want to support the sustainable search engine and at the same time give more and more colleagues the chance to contribute their share to sustainable environmental projects”, says CIO Timo Salzsieder with an eye to the future.


Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, Ecosia is the world’s largest not-for-profit search engine. Like any other search engine, Ecosia generates its revenue from advertisements. The profits are dedicated to the common good and are used to finance the planting of new trees. That way, Ecosia already helped plant more than 43 million new trees in 19 biodiversity hotspots around the world, mostly in the Southern hemisphere. In 2014 Ecosia was the first German company to be certified as a B Corporation and built its own solar energy plant to ensure that Ecosia operates with 100% power from renewable resources. Ecosia was founded in 2009 by Christian Kroll who gave away shares to the Purpose foundation in autumn 2018 to ensure irrevocably and in a legally binding that the profits of Ecosia are used for the common good and to protect the company from being divested. Visit to learn more.

METRONOM GmbH is the tech unit of METRO, a leading international wholesale and food specialist company. METRONOM provides customized IT services and IT solutions for all METRO countries worldwide. About 2,000 team members are located in Germany and our international locations, offering a wide range of capabilities, such as consulting on business processes, development, implementation and support of business solutions, operating data centers and networks as well as supervision of the IT equipment. More information at

METRO is a leading international specialist in wholesale and food retail. The company operates in 35 countries and employs more than 150,000 people worldwide. In financial year 201/18, METRO generated sales of around €36,5 billion. The company provides custom solutions to meet the regional and international needs of its wholesale and retail customers. With its sales brands METRO/MAKRO Cash & Carry and Real as well as delivery services and digitalisation initiatives METRO sets the standards for tomorrow: for customer focus, digital solutions and sustainable business models.