Why has WRAP developed a Scope 3 protocol?
To avoid the worst effects of climate change caused by global warming, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must reach their peak by 2025 and drastically decline by 2050.
We rely on many natural resources for products, but the way we produce and consume them has a negative impact on our planet and increasingly, on our way of life. GHGs are at their highest level ever. This has sped up climate change which has been made evident by recent heatwaves which were more severe and came earlier in the year than usual. This has an impact on our ability to produce food – witnessed by crop damage in India in spring and livestock deaths in the USA.
Stakeholders are expecting companies to significantly cut emissions. Investors want to ensure their funds are without risk buyers want guaranteed resources, and civil groups are lobbying for action. Regulation is appearing in some countries. Shoppers want help to live more sustainably and many are looking for products with a lower environmental impact.
Businesses can help to slow climate change through their practices.
What problem does it seek to address?
Food accounts for 30% of global GHG emissions. There will always be emissions associated with growing food because we need to eat. But some emissions are unnecessary, such as those created from rotting food waste or leaking refrigerant gases. These types of emissions pollute and also make no economic sense.
For climate disclosure, GHGs emissions are grouped into scopes:
- Scope 1 – direct emissions of a company’s own operations
- Scope 2 – emissions of purchased electricity
- Scope 3 – emissions of everything else - from things bought (upstream) and used or wasted (downstream) within a company’s value chain.
For consumer goods companies, Scope 3 emissions typically account for more than 90% of total emissions. Upstream supply chain emissions make up around 80%. Until now, food companies have struggled to account for and reduce their Scope 3 emissions because they are out of their direct influence.
Upon recognising this problem, WRAP, an international climate action NGO, created guidance protocols for food and drink (F&D) companies to help them achieve 50% absolute emissions reductions (against a 2015 baseline) by 2030.
The protocols align with the Paris Agreement target of no more than a 1.5C rise in global temperatures during this century, alongside rapid progress towards net zero emissions.
A summary of WRAP principles
What is WRAP's Scope 3 GHG Measurement and Reporting Protocol?
The protocols support businesses to identify, measure, report and reduce emissions in a consistent way across their food value chain. Not enough companies are asking their suppliers for emissions data, and even when data is provided, it is incomplete or inconsistent. The WRAP protocol aims to fills this important data gap.
While the protocol is exclusive to the UK, the principles can be used anywhere, and the questionnaires and data sources are adapted to different markets.
WRAP combines several climate disclosure standards and guidance, extracts the key requirements, and makes them relevant to food and drink. The protocols give best practices and standardised questionnaires for supplier emissions. As most suppliers will not have product-specific emissions data, an Emissions Factor Datasheet is in development.
A pilot of the protocols is underway with results expected at the end of 2022.
Advantages of WRAPs approach
There are many reasons to use these voluntary protocols:
- Transparent and accurate data will help better decision-making. For example, businesses will be able to see where to target emissions reductions.
- Companies can more accurately communicate their climate actions. Businesses can align to science-based targets (SBTi) and reduce the amount of greenwashing and unsubstantiated claims.
- UK’s DEFRA has recognized this approach.
- The protocols are pragmatic, as they have been developed with the industry.
- A ripple effect will happen with UK trading partners and may raise the climate action bar for many more businesses.
- Suppliers may have a competitive advantage for a few years but providing emissions data will soon become part of doing business – much like product specifications.
How to get started with WRAP’s protocol
Understanding your products’ environmental impact is complex and a lack of resource does not lend itself well to deep, comprehensive investigations involving many suppliers. The protocols may seem daunting at first but if you follow the guidance carefully, you will make headway.
Focusing on Scope 3 supply chain emissions:
- Identify which business activities to include in the Scope 3 inventory. This will vary by organisation. For example, the boundary or limit of a processor’s activities will be different to those of a restaurant. Purchased goods and services, as well as transportation upstream, must be included.
- Do an initial screening to find out how much of your total emissions are from purchased goods – usually the largest share.
- Start with the data you have – usually, this is what you spend on buying products.
- Improve this data quality over time and aim for at least 80% of emissions identified during screening to be weight or volume data.
- Multiply product quantity data by an emissions factor to assign a carbon footprint. These ‘embodied emissions’ are the amount of GHGs emitted in the production of a quantity of product or ingredient purchased, for example, CO2e per kg of chicken.
- Site- and product-specific data is best but not yet common. The next best are industry-specific average emission factors followed by average factors.
- Document the type of data you use – this is important for communications and being transparent about your data limitations.
- Set a baseline (or benchmark) against which to measure and report improvements over time.
- Set a target to reduce emissions. Leading organisations have set science-based targets.
- Talk with your suppliers and ask them for their emissions information using the protocol questionnaires.
- Cut your emissions. Focus your efforts on high volume or high impact purchases with the biggest emissions. Generally, the greatest supply chain emissions are in agriculture.
- Work with your suppliers, customers and industry associations to share data and experiences.
It will be challenging to achieve a 50% emissions reduction at the scale and speed needed, so industry collaboration throughout the supply chain is essential.
The Scope 3 GHG Measurement and Reporting Protocols give you a head start and you can find them with supplier questionnaires on WRAP’s website. Perhaps, ease yourself in gently with the summary version.
Further information on how to successfully engage your suppliers with your Scope 3 program can be found on Supply Pilot's dedicated Scope 3 "Measure Scope 3 emissions with the help of your suppliers" page.