Reducing your scope 3 emissions can seem like a daunting task. A company’s carbon emissions are categorised as scope 1, 2 or 3. Until recently many companies have focused almost exclusively on their scope 1 or 2 emissions. According to some reports, scope 3 emissions account for between 80% – 97% of a business’ carbon footprint. Any company that is only addressing scope 1 or 2 is barely scratching the surface of their carbon footprint. Keep reading to learn how to address your company’s scope 3 emissions and why this is important in 2022.
What Are Scope 3 Emissions?
Company emissions are divided into 3 different ‘scopes’. These terms first appeared in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol of 2001. Today, the scopes form the basis of all mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting in the UK.
Scope 1 emissions are generated directly, such as through company vehicles or emissions from a company owned boiler.
Scope 2 are generated indirectly by the companies that produce the energy for a business’ heating or lighting.
Scope 3 are also indirect. They cover a vast range of emissions that the company are responsible for but does not generate itself.
Emissions are split into upstream and downstream. Upstream emissions are those emissions generated before they reach your business premises. One example is the emissions produced in both the manufacturing and shipping of raw materials to your production plant. Downstream emissions are generated by products or services leaving your premises such as the processing of sold products, end of life treatments or transport.
Is Scope 3 Reporting Mandatory?
Unlike scope 1 and 2 emissions which are mandatory, scope 3 are optional. But this doesn’t mean you should ignore them. The best estimates place scope 3 emissions somewhere between 80% – 97% of a business’ carbon footprint. Ignoring scope 3 and focusing solely on scope 1 and 2 means you are only addressing a very small proportion of the emissions in your value chain. This will make it impossible for you to accurately tackle your carbon footprint. According to the IPCC Report, the world needs to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net zero carbon by 2050 to prevent global temperatures rising above 1.5 degrees centigrade.
Ways To Tackle Your Scope 3 Emissions
Tackling scope 3 can be difficult to measure and record as these emissions are not under the control of your company. However, with research and collaboration you can begin to start quantifying these emissions to inform future action plans.
1. Refer to the GHG Protocol
The GHG Protocol is an essential read for anyone starting to address scope 3 emissions. It covers both upstream and downstream emissions and is widely recognised as an authority on the subject. It is useful for businesses just getting started and for those looking to improve their current processes.
2. Get Your Data In Order
Getting accurate data for scope 3 is more challenging. Companies should begin by setting targets before asking suppliers for specific data about the life cycle of their products.
Reuseabox provide detailed reporting regarding the environmental savings achieved through diverting waste cardboard to reuse.
3. Build A Strong Business Case
Addressing scope 3 can be costly. It is important to identify an area that you can work on and build a strong business case. Waste management is often an easy place to start. Examine each waste material and the process it goes through and look for potential ways to improve your current system. Could you start returning products to their original supplier for reuse rather than sending them straight to recycling?
If your company recycles its used cardboard boxes, consider diverting them to reuse through Reuseabox. Diverting used boxes away from the waste stream and into reuse is an easy way to address your scope 3 emissions related to waste management. Reuseabox provide environmental reporting to show the benefits of reuse over recycling. These can be easily integrated into your waste reporting.
4. Create Science Based Targets
Getting your targets approved by the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) is best practice for businesses aiming to reduce the amount of carbon they produce in line with the Paris Agreement. It enables companies to commit to a shared target to prevent temperatures rising above 1.5 degrees centigrade. The SBTi requires companies to set targets that specifically address scope 3 if more than 40% of their emissions are produced through this scope. Businesses should include their science based targets in their wider CSR or ESG strategy.
5. Work Closely with Businesses Across The Value Chain
You must be able to collaborate with other businesses across the value chain to effectively address scope 3 and reduce the risk of double counting. Collaborate internally with other departments to ensure progress towards scope 3 is being made.
Although reporting on your scope 3 emissions is not mandatory, it is important if you are to get accurate information about your company’s carbon footprint. With scope 3 accounting for up to 97% of a business’ carbon footprint, it is vital that companies begin collecting data and creating targets. If we are to reach the ambitious targets set in the IPCC report and prevent global temperatures rising above 1.5 degrees centigrade, we need all businesses to start taking scope 3 emissions seriously. To get help tackling your waste management through cardboard reuse, contact Reuseabox.