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Scope 3 Measurement & Reporting Protocols for UK Food and Drink Businesses

By Morag Garden
14th February 2022

Over 100 food and drink organisations join forces to develop common Scope 3 measurement guidance

Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has signed up over 100 food and drink organisations to co-develop common guidance for measuring Scope 3 emissions across the sector. For many businesses operating in this space, Scope 3 emissions will account for 80-90% of their total footprint. 


The ‘Scope 3 Measurement & Reporting Protocol for UK Food & Drink sector’ will be the go-to agreed methodology for the Food & Drink sector and will be recognised by Government, businesses, as well as the major sector associations. The protocol aims to be a one-stop shop summarising and sign-posting all the existing and relevant published information and key datasets.

Phase 1 of the consultation for the protocol has invited the Courtauld 2030 signatories, including their consultants/advisors who are supporting the signatories to quantify their own Scope 3 emissions. 

As mentioned above, one of the aims is not to replicate existing published information, but instead reference and sign-post the key publications and data. The document also sign-posts to three key documents which are currently in the drafting phase – listed below: 

  1. The SBTi’s Forest, Land and Agriculture Science Based Target Setting Guidance (also called the FLAG guidance).  
  2.  The GHG Protocol’s Land Sector and Removals Guidance
  3. Emission Factor Datasheet for food & drink purchased goods (WRAP).  The aim of this document is to be a consolidation of data from various free-to-access published datasets.

Key Timelines

WRAP has confirmed that the reporting protocols will be published later this year, following an in depth consultation process including a formal set of questions to key experts, open session at the annual Courtauld Annual Summit which took place on the 10th February; culminating in a pilot phase that will launch in April. The protocols will be updated on an ongoing basis in line with industry learnings and will be consistent with existing frameworks that are not sector-specific, including the GHG Protocol. 

WRAP’s chief executive Marcus Gover said: “There is currently no consistent way of quantifying supply chain emissions and businesses either have to commission expensive life cycle analysis for each ingredient or use average values from a variety of contrasting public data sets. This is a burden for suppliers and makes it impossible to compare the information provided by different businesses.

“If we are to make reliable progress in tackling climate change then we have to have a common measurement and an agreed set of emission factors that everyone can use.”


What does the protocol mean for businesses?

The protocol is based on the GHG Protocol Scope 3 Standard with the aim of creating    common measurement and an agreed set of emission factors for food and drink companies.

  • The protocol will support organisations with their public reporting as well as future benchmarking initiatives. The sector will have a clearer view on what good looks like and be able to compare more closely against peers. 
  • Providing companies with the  much needed consistency and  helping companies to track progress against their GHG targets as well as communicate net zero ambitions 
  • The document will also provide some guidance on the current key trade-offs between completeness and the complexities of data gathering.

Business benefits

Following the protocol will drive the following business goals:

  • Inform strategic decisions 
  • Establish targets
  • Enhanced transparency 
  • Meet investors needs 
  • Meet future disclosure requirements 

Dealing with Scope 3 emissions data

The protocol sets out two distinct steps for data collection. Firstly, where spend data should be used to focus clients efforts in terms of Scope 3 emissions; but secondly that activity data e.g. weight / volume preferably should be used for monitoring & reporting.

The protocol highlights that spend data is not typically well suited to developing a representative Scope 3 emissions inventory, due to monetary values not being linked to carbon intensity. Plus spend data is not disaggregated into product categories to support the degree of accuracy needed when creating an inventory.

The document also highlights that identifying and obtaining good quality embodied emissions data for food and drink products and ingredients can be a significant challenge but is a critical focus for companies operating in this sector given the dominance of this emissions source within their overall Scope 3 inventory.  

The most important first step will be to develop a Scope 3 inventory for purchased goods – e.g. to understand the biggest emissions sources and focus effort or to develop a baseline for a GHG reduction target. For this purpose, the use of secondary emission factors from published datasets  are likely to be the easiest available data source. However, it is important to be aware that this source of embodied emissions data is unlikely to be useful for tracking progress in reducing emissions, as the data is not updated regularly over time. 

Tracking emissions reduction over time is critical to measure the effectiveness of emission reductions initiatives, to report progress against targets, and to be able to communicate success credibly to stakeholders without fear of greenwashing.  


Next steps

Carbon Intelligence works with large complex organisations on end-to-end supply chain engagement programmes to improve the quantity and quality of Scope 3 data collection overtime. Tracking progress towards net-zero will require a digital solution. Manage, track, and reduce supply chain emissions with the Carbon Intelligence platform and accelerate your journey to net zero.

For companies in the retail and manufacturing sectors, supply chain emissions can make up to 95% of total emissions, but getting an accurate representation of your supplier’s footprint is often a lengthy and costly process. Our supply chain services and Carbon Intelligence platform helps you overcome the challenge of calculating, verifying, and improving your supply chain emissions. Get in touch if you would like to know more info@carbon.ci


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