How to Manage Scope 3 Emissions

by | May 1, 2013

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Properly managing value chain, or Scope 3, emissions is a critical survival tool companies must use to gain competitive advantage in a resource-constrained future, the Carbon Trust says.

Value chain emissions often represent the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and in some cases can account for up to 90 percent of the total carbon impact, according to a Carbon Trust column. These indirect emissions, which the international Scope 3 Standard places in 15 categories, cover business activities, such as travel and employee commuting as well as the use and disposal of sold products and the impact of any investments.

Carbon Trust, which helped the GHG Protocol develop the Scope 3 Calculation Guidance, says companies mistakenly attempt to quantify all 15 categories in an effort to comply. Instead, companies should follow eight basic best practices to calculate and manage their Scope 3 footprint, beginning with maintaining a focus on business needs and value generation that can be derived from measuring these emissions.

Companies need to determine what existing data can be used and how easily additional information can be obtained. Then companies should begin with a wide, yet shallow view to understand how to focus efforts, by taking “amount bought” and “amount sold” multiplied the most applicable emissions factors.

From here, companies can engage with customers and suppliers to obtain primary data, collaborating in person at an appropriate level of detail and scope to build out reduction plans, Carbon Trust says. Companies can also choose to focus on a few important products or categories using footprinting or value chain optimization methods to determine how to move to a more profitable and more sustainable future state.

Carbon Trust also advises companies to ensure suppliers feel part of a value chain enterprise that is working together to improve efficiency of products to meet consumer needs. Finally, companies need to share information with decision makers that highlights how their choices impact the total value chain, not just their operations.

Earlier this week, UK communications company BT announced it became the first company to have product carbon footprints independently verified by Carbon Trust to the new greenhouse grass Protocol Product Standard.

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