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How to select your suppliers to reduce your scope 3 emissions?

Companies that wish to declare their emissions must conduct a carbon footprint assessment to determine the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during the production of a product or their activities over a specified period. To conduct this assessment, it is necessary to categorize emissions according to a specific classification. These are scopes 1, 2, and 3.

In this context, scopes refer to the boundaries within which an organization's or product's greenhouse gas emissions are examined. Today, we will focus specifically on scope 3, the broadest and most challenging to define.

Focus on Scope 3

What is scope 3?

Unlike scope 1 and 2, which are emissions directly linked to and controlled by the organization, scope 3 is more complex to understand because it encompasses a wide range of indirect sources such as the production of construction materials, supplier transportation, product use by customers, and many others. In other words, scope 3 includes all emissions related to the supply chain and product use, from design to end of life.

Scope 3 emissions are detailed in about ten categories (Table 1), which are further divided into two types: "Upstream" and "Downstream" emissions.

  • "Upstream" emissions refer to the initial or upstream stages of a process or value chain. These stages are often related to production, raw material sourcing, and initial logistics. This category includes emissions generated by employees' travel for business-related activities. For example, an employee's commute to the office would be classified under these emissions because it is necessary for producing the company's goods or services.

  • On the other hand, "Downstream" emissions refer to the final or downstream stages of a process, often related to distribution, marketing, and customer delivery. This includes emissions created by the use of services and goods sold. For example, if your company manufactures machines, the emissions resulting from the use of these machines would be considered downstream emissions.

Here are the categories considered in Scope 3 :

Table 1

Why is it important?

Scope 3 is important in a carbon footprint assessment for several reasons: