New guidelines for chemical industry to track and tackle Scope 3 emissions

Global chemical sector initiative, Together for Sustainability (TfS), has this wek launched a new set of guidelines for the chemical industry to help companies better calculate and track their upstream Scope 3 supply chain emissions.

The new guidelines for Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) and Corporate Scope 3 emission reporting – which were hailed as a ‘first-of-its-kind’ by TfS – provide specific calculation instructions for measuring emissions from ‘cradle to gate’ for chemical materials.

The group said its PCF calculation methodology can be used across the industry and is applicable to the vast majority of chemical products.

As such, it aims to allow consumers and the wider market to directly compare and assess the climate impact of products, as well as providing producers of chemical materials and their suppliers with step-by-step assessment approaches to identify emissions sources across the chemicals industry value chain, TfS said.

It highlighted citric acid as an example, citing it as one of many common commodities found in household cleaning products. However, estimating the PCF for citric acid has “many challenges”, TfS said, including comparing biobased materials to calculating allocation schemes and varying uses of electricity in its production.

The PCF Guideline offer clear and standardised instructions for calculating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for specific chemicals, such as citric acid production. It also specifies how to assess the use of grid electricity or renewable energy during production.

According to TfS, PCF calculations will provide the best product-level emissions transparency for the identification, tracking, and reduction of Scope 3 GHG emissions. In addition, the guidelines will  enable companies and suppliers to work on the reduction of their emissions, which TfS said could ultimately improve the entire industry’s carbon footprint. 

The guidelines were originally created to meet the needs of chemical corporations and their suppliers, TfS said. However, it has now decided that the methodology can be used as an open-source calculation and drop-in solution in any other global industry that uses chemical products.

“The new PCF Guideline is part of TfS’ mission and our speedboat to foster sustainability and have impact in global chemical supply chains,” explained Bertrand Conquéret, TfS president, president of global supply chain and chief procurement officer at Henkel. “As the TfS Guideline is available as open-source data, TfS aims to drive change beyond the chemical industry, providing the foundation for other industries to work on carbon reductions. By working collaboratively with cross-industry initiatives, we hope to build a more sustainable future.”

Prof. Dr. Peter Saling, director sustainability methods at BASF and lead of the TfS Guideline Work Package, said the new methodology represented a significant step forward for efforts to tackle the chemicals industry’s emissions. “Until now, the chemical industry has lacked a common approach to calculating its Product Carbon Footprints,” he said. “The availability of PCF data is limited, and calculations are often not directly comparable. The new PCF bridges this gap, offering a harmonised way to generate and share information on the emissions arising from chemical supply chains.

“It is a first-of-its-kind resource for the industry, drawing on commonly used international standards and guidelines – such as ISO, the GHG Protocol and the Pathfinder Framework (PACT powered by WBCSD) – while offering the specificity needed for the chemical industry.”

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