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What are Scope 3 Emissions – and Should You Measure Them?

circular economy

Scope 3 emissions are often termed “indirect emissions”. They refer to the greenhouse gas emissions associated with activities that occur outside of a company’s organisational boundaries. Scope 3 emissions, while not under the direct control of a company, nevertheless count towards a company’s overall environmental impact.

In this, the first of several posts on Scope 3 emissions, we’ll examine the nature of Scope 3 emissions, why it makes sense to measure them, and some ways to mitigate them.

The “scope” of Scope 3 emissions

Scope 3 emissions provide a comprehensive measure of all a company’s activities – insights which are especially useful to businesses in the retail and manufacturing sectors, enabling them to work towards tangible sustainability goals.

Scope 3 emissions can arise from within the entire value chain – from a company’s suppliers to its customers. There are 15 categories of Scope 3 emissions as outlined in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol including those around:

  • Purchased goods and services
  • Transportation and distribution
  • Use of sold products
  • End-of-life treatment of sold products
  • Downstream leased assets

Are companies required to measure their Scope 3 emissions?

Calculating Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions is the minimum required for acceptable Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting under UK Defra guidelines. Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions relate to emissions directly under a company’s control. These include emissions arising from their own fuel consumption, and emissions that occur off-site, for example those arising from the electricity a company buys.

Under new European Union (EU) rules companies will be required to make a deep assessment of their Scope 3 emissions. While at present the UK government does not require mandatory assessment of Scope 3 emissions, it’s anticipated that, in line with the majority of other countries, mandatory reporting around Scope 3 emissions will be introduced in the coming years.

Why measure Scope 3 Emissions?

For many organisations indirect Scope 3 emissions account for around 70% – 90% of their total carbon footprint. As consumers show greater interest in the climate impact of the products they buy, retailers, in particular, are examining how to identify, not just their own  emissions, but those across their entire supply chain.

Companies that tackle Scope 3 emissions are demonstrating their commitment to addressing their environmental impact in a holistic way. This approach not only contributes to mitigating climate change, but enhances a company’s reputation, fosters innovation, and positions a business as a responsible player in a carbon-constrained world.

With mandatory reporting on the horizon it’s essential that companies start working towards assessing their Scope 3 emissions now. This can provide a deeper insight into the current carbon footprint, and help to identify decarbonisation opportunities.

How can companies reduce their Scope 3 emissions?

Companies can work to reduce their Scope 3 emissions via a number of strategies:

  • Optimising transportation and distribution networks to lower emissions caused by logistics. Choosing lightweight and compact packaging materials can reduce transportation emissions by allowing more products to be shipped in a single shipment. Optimising transport routes and using more fuel-efficient transportation modes can also help to lower emissions.
  • Switching to renewable energy sources, and improving energy efficiencies to curtail emissions. Using paper from responsibly managed forests can help to reduce the carbon footprint associated with the production and transportation of raw materials.
  • Reducing product waste, and encouraging sustainable product use to mitigate emissions from end-of-life product treatment. Using paper-based products that are recyclable can help reduce the environmental impact of waste disposal.
  • Implementing circular economy models. This involves using products that are durable and easy to recycle at the end of their life. This helps to minimise the need for new raw materials, and reduces associated emissions.
  • To mitigate Scope 3 emissions companies may also choose to influence their suppliers to change their practices – or switch to suppliers that adhere to more environmentally friendly practices.

PALLITE® products: Cutting costs and carbon emissions

Sustainable honeycomb paper cardboard product variations

PALLITE® cardboard-based products can help you mitigate Scope 3 emissions throughout the supply chain. When it comes to the transportation of goods, PALLITE®’s lightweight paper pallets, shipping crates, layer boards, and protective packaging, make loads in transit far lighter, lowering your carbon footprint.

This can be illustrated using real figures: Pallite paper pallets are around 20 kg lighter than wooden pallets reducing transit packaging weights by over 80%. This results in tangible cost savings across the entire supply chain, since less fuel is required for freight travelling by road, sea, or air. And lighter loads means lower Scope 3 emissions.

A custom fit for increased space efficiency

PALLITE® products can be manufactured to bespoke designs, so that they fit products exactly. This not only reduces the amount of space you need for goods in transit, but cuts down on the amount of packaging you need. Less space means fewer lorry loads on the road, and fewer journeys mean lower emissions.

You could potentially add on 28.5% in additional product allowance per shipment by using Pallite products

Scope 3 Emissions: Understanding, Measuring, and Reducing Your Impact

Scope 3 emissions, also known as indirect emissions, refer to the greenhouse gas emissions associated with activities that occur outside of a company’s organisational boundaries. These emissions can arise from a variety of sources, including the use of purchased goods and services, the generation of electricity, and the transportation of products.

Benefits of Measuring and Reducing Scope 3 Emissions

Measuring and reducing Scope 3 emissions can provide a number of benefits for companies, including:

Benefit Description
Environmental benefits Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change.
Financial benefits Saving money on energy costs, transportation costs, and waste disposal costs.
Reputational benefits Enhancing a company’s image as an environmentally responsible organisation.

Actionable Guidance for Reducing Scope 3 Emissions

Here are some actionable steps that companies can take to reduce their Scope 3 emissions:

  1. Identify Scope 3 emissions sources: Companies should first identify the sources of their Scope 3 emissions, such as purchased goods and services, transportation and distribution, use of sold products, end-of-life treatment of sold products, and downstream leased assets.

  2. Measure Scope 3 emissions: Companies should then measure the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated from each source. There are a number of tools and methodologies available to assist with this process.

  3. Develop a reduction plan: Once the emissions have been measured, companies should develop a plan to reduce them. This could involve switching to renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, reducing product waste, and implementing circular economy models.

PALLITE® Group: A responsible supplier

When you use PALLITE® products you can be certain you’re working with a responsible supplier that’s working hard to preserve the earth’s natural resources. We use 100% recyclable products made from paper that’s derived from managed sources and is also 80% recycled itself.

By opting to use PALLITE®’s environmentally-friendly products you can move away from single use plastic packaging, wooden shipping containers, plastic pallets and polystyrene void fill. By introducing a truly sustainable solution into the supply chain you can play a major role in the development of a circular economy.

Tracking and reporting Scope 3 emissions is crucial to understanding your company’s overall impact on the environment. Once you understand your current position you can set goals in a bid to lower your carbon footprint. Making the move to sustainable logistical solutions will not only save you money on energy and resources but help you reduce your Scope 3 emissions.

We’d love to discuss ways PALLITE® Group can help you achieve your sustainability goals so please get in touch with us today. In the meantime, why not try out our easy-to-use  sustainability calculator to see the positive environmental impact you could achieve for your company by switching to PALLITE® products?

Written by David Rose


Q1: What are Scope 3 emissions?

Scope 3 emissions are greenhouse gas emissions that occur outside of a company’s own operations, such as from the use of purchased goods, electricity, and the transport of products.

Q2: Why is it important to reduce Scope 3 emissions?

Reducing Scope 3 emissions is important because they can account for up to 90% of a company’s total carbon footprint. By reducing these emissions, companies can help to mitigate climate change and improve their environmental performance.

Q3: What are some examples of Scope 3 emissions?

Examples of Scope 3 emissions include:

  • Emissions from the use of purchased goods, such as the electricity used to power factories and office buildings
  • Emissions from the transportation of goods, such as the emissions from trucks, trains, and planes
  • Emissions from the use of sold products, such as the emissions from the disposal of batteries and other products
  • Emissions from the end-of-life treatment of sold products, such as the emissions from the incineration or landfill of products

Q4: How can companies measure their Scope 3 emissions?

There are a number of tools and methodologies available for measuring Scope 3 emissions. These tools can help companies to identify the sources of their emissions and quantify the amount of emissions that they are generating.

Q5: How can companies reduce their Scope 3 emissions?

There are a number of ways that companies can reduce their Scope 3 emissions. These include:

  • Switching to renewable energy sources
  • Improving energy efficiency
  • Reducing product waste
  • Implementing circular economy models
  • Working with suppliers to reduce emissions

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