In the modern era, nothing has influenced how facilities management organisations think, work and operate more than the sustainability movement.
Once, companies could content themselves with focusing on their core business – doing the doing, so to speak – but over the last two decades, they’ve had to grapple with a dizzying array of issues: greenhouse gases, water management, waste, biodiversity and sustainable hiring policies. The sheer scale of the challenges posed by climate change has compelled our industry to incorporate sustainability in new, innovative and sometimes surprising ways.
As we near the ten-year anniversary of the landmark Paris Agreement, attention is now shifting to an often misunderstood sustainability area: Scope 3 emissions. Unlike other areas of emission-related aspects that can be addressed internally, the very nature of Scope 3 means that a collaborative approach is the only way to properly tackle the issue.
What are Scope 3 emissions?
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is a well-known framework for measuring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It splits up those emissions into three distinct ‘scopes.’
- Scope 1 emissions: these are the GHG emissions a company makes directly. For instance, these emissions are released while running boilers or using fossil-fuel-powered vehicles.
- Scope 2 emissions: these are the indirect emissions from an organisation’s consumption of electricity, steam and heating/cooling. Although the organisation doesn’t emit the gases directly, it bears an indirect responsibility because of its consumption.
- Scope 3 emissions: these encompass a broader spectrum of upstream and downstream emissions, covering everything not produced by the company itself. Scope 3 relates to the emissions an organisation is indirectly responsible for throughout its value chain. For example, this includes emissions related to buying, using and disposing of products from suppliers.
Why are Scope 3 emissions so important?
In short, because they emit such a large amount of carbon into the atmosphere.
Within the facilities management industry, Scope 3 emissions manifest across everything from purchased goods and services to business travel, employee commuting and waste disposal. These emissions often transcend organisational boundaries, making them complex, intricate and increasingly fiddly to both quantify and manage. Scope 3 emissions aren’t something a single company can tackle alone. Organisations must work hand in hand, engaging with everyone from suppliers to clients to stakeholders to address their collective impact.
At Biological Preparations, we take a holistic approach by working with companies across our value chain. We don’t just offer innovative solutions and strategies to address the problem but also share our expertise. By applying the insights we’ve gained, we can support others working in the facilities management space to get a handle on this challenging sustainability area.
A sustainable strategy: taking aim at Scope 3
Of all emissions categories, Scope 3 can be the most daunting, simply because it’s so broad. But interestingly, it’s also where the greatest impact can be found when it comes to reductions. For many companies, Scope 3 emissions account for well over 70% of their carbon footprint, so by putting a solid strategy in place, they can make a significant difference in reaching their sustainability goals.
A 2015 study detailed how investment portfolios featuring low-carbon intensity stocks outperformed high-carbon ones. It has also been found that when customers reduce Scope 3 emissions and create more energy efficient products, customers are more likely to buy from them. A 2021 poll found four in five customers consider energy efficiency when buying certain items.
When setting a Scope 3 strategy, there are three key areas to consider:
Focus Area 1 – The Supply Chain
Since Scope 3 emissions extend deeply into a company’s supply chain, the associated emissions in that chain also become the company’s responsibility. A smart approach to managing this is through engagement. This could take the form of working together to collect data, collaboratively setting targets or working on targeted communication, training and partnership programmes.
Companies should connect with their suppliers and encourage them to adopt more environmentally friendly practices. This will ultimately create a chain reaction, with sustainability rippling throughout the supply chain.
Focus Area 2 – Business Travel
While emissions from company-owned vehicles fall under Scopes 1 or 2 (depending on if they use fuel or electricity), those emitted when transporting employees for business-related activities in vehicles owned or operated by third parties – such as aircraft, trains, buses, and passenger cars – fall under Scope 3.
Addressing this particular issue requires a bit of flexible thinking. By embracing remote work options and promoting bike to work schemes, subsidised public transport or even electric cars, you can effectively reduce these emissions while boosting employee wellbeing.
Focus Area 3 – Stakeholder Engagement
Addressing Scope 3 emissions relies on stakeholder reporting. Investors, clients and regulatory bodies demand transparency and accountability, so by actively managing and reducing your Scope 3 emissions you can bolster your reputation, build stakeholder trust and stay ahead in an increasingly sustainability-focused business landscape.
How can Biological Preparations help reduce your Scope 3 emissions?
As an industry leader in environmental biotechnology, we assist facilities management companies in addressing Scope 3 emissions. This not only enhances your sustainability profile, but also helps you achieve your ESG goals and bolster your brand reputation.
We do this by replacing harmful, non-renewable chemicals with eco-friendly solutions that are better for the environment, society and your business. In practical terms, these solutions maintain and improve site cleanliness and ensure compliance and operational efficiency. Not only do our products have a lower carbon footprint, but their improved performance reduces the number of overall deliveries needed and subsequently the amount of Scope 3 emitting transport vehicles.
“Gone are the days where being sustainable means higher costs and poor performance.”
If we’ve learned one thing in dealing with Scope 3 emissions, it’s that a strategic approach is not merely a choice, but a necessity. A clearly defined strategy underscores a commitment to responsible environmental practices and nurtures a positive corporate image that resonates with clients, employees and investors alike.
Even better, a robust strategy has the potential to significantly reduce costs. When companies optimise their operations to minimise upstream and downstream emissions, they often uncover inefficiencies that, when rectified, result in substantial savings. When done properly, a proactive stance on Scope 3 emissions will align your sustainability and your sales targets, providing a win-win scenario.
Start your journey
Sustainability initiatives were once seen as a top-down edict from HQ, but things have changed. Today, industry leaders are seeing the real benefits of tackling Scope 3 emissions.
At Biological Preparations, we help facilities management organisations get a grip on their emissions, and support them throughout this transformative journey. By tapping into our expertise and innovative solutions, together we can turn the tide on Scope 3 emissions, set an example for industries worldwide and leave a legacy of environmental stewardship for generations to come.