Benefits of reducing scope 3 emissions in the supply chain

More than 50% of the global warming gas emissions that reach the atmosphere come from 8 supply chains. Moving goods around the world involves large-scale operations and a number of key players, from manufacturers to distributors of goods. This is why the effort to reduce the carbon footprint must be a joint one, based on a comprehensive analysis of these operations.

Reduction of ‘spot 3’ or ‘scope 3’ emissions

Increasing sustainability in the supply chain requires companies to take a global view. Emissions can be differentiated into the following types, according to the scope categories for carbon accounting that were agreed on in 2001 in the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol corporate accounting standard:

Direct emissions from our own operations or spot 1. These are all emissions generated by our own or directly controlled sources.
Indirect emissions from energy consumption or scope 2. These are emissions resulting from the generation of electricity that has been acquired, as well as cooling, heating and others.
Indirect emissions (consumption before and after operations), also called spot 3 or scope 3.

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Spot 3 emissions include those related to the operations of the different suppliers, those linked to the consumption of resources, and the ones associated with the use of the service or product provided to the customer, as well as its availability.

Scope 3 is also generated by emissions associated with solid waste disposal and outsourced wastewater treatment. In short, these are all the other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain. Reducing such emissions through technology and the application of best practices is a challenge even for the ‘top’ sustainability companies in the transport and logistics sector.

Scope 3 is also generated by emissions associated with solid waste disposal and outsourced wastewater treatment.

What are the benefits of reducing it?

Increasing the value of the processes is the ultimate goal of any organization. ‘Spot 3’ emissions reduction makes it possible to identify problematic emissions hotspots in the supply chain. This translates into the following gains:

  • Reuse of materials to reduce costs.
  • Resource and energy risk identification.
  • Engaging suppliers and helping them to carry out sustainability actions.
  • Identifying energy efficiency opportunities that lower operating costs.
  • Differentiating which suppliers best apply sustainability measures.
  • Increased energy efficiency of the final product.
  • A commitment made by employees to reduce emissions from their commuting.

Optimizing the entire production line of the product or service has the underlying benefit of guaranteeing greater longevity over time, since the search for sustainability ensures growth and permanence in the long term, given that resources are limited. From manufacturing to sales and customer satisfaction, through all the intermediate departments of the companies involved in the supply chain, they all play an active role in reducing emissions.

You may also be interested in: New emissions regulations for logistics and road transport in the EU.

New horizon: Scope 4 emissions

So-called Scope 4 emissions, sometimes referred to as ‘avoided emissions’ are those associated with home-based or remote work. The concept began to take root as a result of the decrease in contamination detected during the confinements resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Until now, organizations’ emissions to the atmosphere have been quantified by measuring those emitted from centralized workplaces, such as corporate headquarters and common office buildings. Collecting data on the carbon footprint generated by employees at home makes it difficult to gather information, but some companies are beginning to show interest in doing so.

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