Scope 3 emissions reductions have taken on an aura of impossibility in recent times. For some, they are the invisible enemy; the ghost at the feast while you celebrate your Scope 1 & 2 emissions reductions. Making up around 70% of an average company’s carbon footprint, Scope 3 is essentially the ‘final boss’ of Net Zero.

    For the uninitiated, a quick explainer: while Scope 1 & 2 emissions are associated with emissions from a company’s operations, Scope 3 is harder to pin down, representing indirect emissions from up and down the value chain.

    So if measuring Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are largely box-ticking exercises, Scope 3 is a different beast entirely. Never mind box-ticking - first you have to locate the box.

    That means navigating complex supply chains full of different methodologies, elusive data and evolving technologies. It means tracing the entire lifecycle of products, from raw material extraction and manufacturing to distribution, usage, and eventual disposal or recycling.

    In short, it’s a daunting task, and even with all the goodwill in the world, it simply can’t all be tackled at once.

    So instead, we’ve broken this mammoth task down into three slightly-less-intimidating strategic categories.

    Phase 1: Clearing the fog.

    In our complicated globalised world, supply chains can start to look like inscrutable labyrinths. According to SupplyChainDive, 94% of businesses do not have full visibility of their supply chain, and over half lack visibility into tier two and three suppliers according to Invulia. These are major barriers to your engineers working out where to make emissions-reducing tweaks.

    So it’s clear what your first step should be in reducing Scope 3 emissions: clearing the fog, and starting to demystify your complex, multilayered value chain in a way that puts your experts in the driving seat with a bird’s eye view of your operations.

    Collaboration is crucial here for suppliers to share their critical data with you, but what’s also missing is the ability to pool this data in one place that gives your domain experts the ability to pinpoint tactical and strategic Scope 3 improvements.

    Achieving true transparency into your supply chain emissions is not just accessing the data; it’s also about integrating that data in a user-friendly, detailed and actionable way. According to a CDP survey, only 10% of companies are tracking at least some elements of Scope 3 emissions, so being able to oversee your value chain and every process within it would put your company ahead of your competitors.

    Still, seeing is not necessarily understanding, and even the most intuitive dashboard in the world could leave you puzzled over the data it presents. Say you spot that you’re producing excess waste somewhere in your value chain, but you can’t figure out why. You’ve got a mountain of channel data, but not the capacity or know-how to wade through it for an answer.

    This is the point at which the reams of separate datasets across your value chain become simply too complex for human scrutiny - and it’s your cue to turn to a combination of machine learning and analytics to pinpoint exactly where crucial tweaks can be made to reduce your emissions while still maintaining your quality targets. Using these advanced algorithmic methods, your experts can identify anomalous patterns, understand their root causes, and make informed corrective decisions to optimise every one of your processes.

    The net result? Your fog has been cleared, and you can view each of your processes and product lifecycles with eagle-eyed vision.


    Phase 2: Constant optimisation.

    So, you’ve got a detailed picture of your value chain, and where improvements are needed. Now it’s time to level up, make those corrective actions and begin optimising every single element.

    Let’s take an example. You’re running a factory producing food additives there are many formulations required to meet your customers needs. The quality of each product must have a certain chemical analysis to achieve the properties required – bulk density, moisture, flowability, strength and particle size.

    As your factory churns out hundreds of products daily, it’s essential to arrive at a precise composition of ingredients that meets your quality standards at the lowest possible energy consumption and price point. If a particular chemical element is causing excess wastage and cost downstream in the value chain, you need to be able to alter your process conditions (parameters), and work out exactly how to optimise how much of that chemical you can reduce while still maintaining quality - or else devise a carbon-friendly alternative. 

    It’s these subtle, iterative improvements to both quality and energy efficiency that can not only make vital tweaks towards that Net Zero goal, but also give you a crucial advantage over competitors. But the time to act is right now: the inefficiencies embedded in your minute-by-minute processes echo across your value chain, and each ounce of wastage you save multiplies every day.


    Phase 3: Long-term competitive advantage.

    Over the long term, perfecting your value chain will make a momentous difference in your strides towards Net Zero. Not only that, you’ll race further ahead of your competitors with every data-optimised tweak, as you inch ever closer to an ideal recipe for each product lifecycle.

    Combining the nous of your domain experts with machine learning and analytics, you’ll empower your business to scrutinise every step of the value chain, prioritise Net Zero efforts and implement targeted measures that have the most significant impact.

    Finally, throughout each of these strategic stages you need to be constantly measuring your improvements and pinpointing what is and isn’t working. Acknowledging and solidifying your improvements ensure they are maintained, so you don’t drift back into old habits. Identifying those subtle optimisations is key to embedding incremental improvements into your processes - the kind of step-by-step gains that separate the best from the rest.

    Get in touch with us  via our contact form or email to discuss where your company is in this journey and what your next steps should be.