Scope 3 Emissions: What are they and how can business reduce them?
Many instances of severe weather conditions over recent months have shown us that more than ever, our world is rapidly changing before our eyes. With these stark warnings and the bolstered sustainability targets from discussions held at COP26 in mind, business owners have a crucial role in preventing further devastation through their actions and attitudes towards extensive carbon usage.
For many businesses, a large portion of their carbon emissions are from what the Greenhouse Gas Protocol refers to as ‘Scope 3’ activities. These are indirect emissions often from a company’s supply chain and include things like business travel, purchased goods and services as well as the use of sold products. As pressure is mounting on large-scale corporations to not only acknowledge that carbon reduction is needed, but to act upon it, an ever-growing number have started to commit to reduction targets.
Manufacture 2030 was launched with the sole purpose of accelerating Scope 3 carbon reduction at scale across supply chains, and armed with 12 years of experience, they believe they have found a scalable way for businesses to address their Scope 3 challenges. This method follows three actions: –
Measure: go beyond historical, enterprise-level data collection and measure in detail each supplier’s baseline carbon emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3) and their estimated glidepath towards the business’ target, based upon reduction action plans.
Manage: use the glidepath data that the business has collected to understand the supplier’s gap to their carbon reduction target and manage the supplier’s progress to close that gap.
Improve: accelerate improvement by building the supplier’s capability to drive environmental impact reduction, focused specifically on closing their identified gap to the Scope 3 reduction target via an action plan.
A good example of the successes of this method is the work that Manufacture 2030 have been doing across the combined food and drink supply chains of the UK retailers, Asda and Co-op. In the last three years alone, the 1,000 participating supplier sites have on average:
- Reduced their Scope 1 and 2 carbon intensity by almost 20%.
- Doubled their use of renewable energy.
- Halved the amount of waste going to landfill.
In the past year, these sites have started to measure the carbon in over 900 million tonnes of raw material inputs into their factories and committed to over 5,500 new carbon reduction initiatives within their action plans.
This latter data is important because it tells Manufacture 2030 not just what has been achieved to date, but whether the suppliers’ action plans and glidepath mean they are likely to hit their target in the future, and if not, exactly what Manufacture 2030 can do to help achieve it.
Climate change is the challenge of our time, and while there should still be plenty of cause for concern about the fate of our planet, if more global businesses are willing to swiftly embrace innovation and collaboration for positive environmental change then there is still real reason for optimism.