What are scope 3 emissions?
Greenhouse gas emissions are categorised into three groups or 'scopes' by the most widely-used international accounting tool, the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. While scope 1 and 2 cover direct emissions sources (e.g., fuel used in company vehicles and purchased electricity), scope 3 emissions cover all indirect emissions due to the activities of an organization. These include emissions from both suppliers and consumers, as shown in the table below:
Purchased electricity, heat and steam
Purchased goods and services
Use of sold products
Transportation and distribution (up- and downstream)
Leased assets and franchises
What is a value chain footprint?
A value chain carbon footprint measures both direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions of an organisation. This diagram shows how emissions are categorised across an organisation's value chain, including upstream and downstream activities.
You can read an introduction to carbon footprinting and carbon emissions reporting for your business in our guide to carbon footprinting.
Why should an organisation measure its scope 3 emissions?
There are a number of benefits associated with measuring scope 3 emissions. For many companies, the majority of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and cost reduction opportunities lie outside their own operations. By measuring scope 3 emissions, organisations can:
- Assess where the emission hotspots are in their supply chain;
- Identify resource and energy risks in their supply chain;
- Identify which suppliers are leaders and which are laggards in terms of their sustainability performance;
- Identify energy efficiency and cost reduction opportunities in their supply chain;
- Engage suppliers and assist them to implement sustainability initiatives
- Improve the energy efficiency of their products
- Positively engage with employees to reduce emissions from business travel and employee commuting.
How can my organisation measure its scope 3 carbon emissions and value chain carbon footprint?
We offer a range of services to help you measure and manage your supply chain emissions:
- Our Business Advice services offer support with supply chain carbon strategy and supplier engagement.
- Our Footprint measurement services include calculation of your organisation or product carbon footprint. We have created a range of software in partnership with CRedit360 to help measure, manage and reduce an organisation's scope 3 emissions:
- The Value chain Hotspotter (PDF) is an easy to use tool that offers an accessible, reliable and scalable start to evaluating Scope 3 emissions.
- Our Value chain carbon management software, Value Chain Manager, enables you to measure the full extent of carbon emissions across your value chain and shows how to reduce the footprint and associated costs.
- The Carbon Trust Standard for Supply Chain is the world’s first independent certification for organisations that are measuring, managing and reducing greenhouse gas (CO2e) emissions in their supply chains.
To find out more about any of the above, please contact us.
Read more about the Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard at the GHG Protocol website.