How to Apply 'Scope 3 Thinking' Across Your Sustainability Work
In this article, we share the basics on Scope 3 emissions and explain why they’re particularly relevant for the hospitality industry. We also explore how applying the concept of ‘Scope 3 thinking’ across other areas can revolutionise how your restaurant business tackles sustainability work, reducing your footprint and greatly expanding your impact.
What are Scope 3 emissions?
- Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, such as fuel combustion and company vehicles.
- Scope 2 referes to indirect emissions, or those from services purchased by your business: think electricity, gas, steam, heating and/or cooling.
- Scope 3 covers all other indirect emissions, or those that occur throughout your company’s value chain. This includes the emissions incurred by every ingredient that you buy, at every stage of its production and its journey to your kitchen and onto your customers’ plates. It also includes emissions from non-food suppliers, like the laundry business that takes care of your linens.
Why Scope 3 emissions are so important for hospitality
For the F&B industry, Scope 3 accounts for an overwhelming majority of overall emissions, making this a critical part of reducing your footprint. The global food system contributes a large chunk of total global greenhouse gas emissions – up to one-third, according to some estimates – and the supply chains of food and beverage businesses make a significant contribution to this.
Because they occur outside your organisation, Scope 3 emissions present the biggest challenge in terms of tracking, measuring and reducing – which is why reporting in this area is far behind that of Scopes 1 and 2. However, this is critical work: failing to include scope 3 emissions in your reporting will mean a significant underestimation of your company's overall environmental impact. This can stop you from identifying effective mitigation strategies while also leaving your business vulnerable to increasingly stringent legislation around emissions reporting.
The benefits of measuring Scope 3 emissions
The flip side of this is a golden opportunity: it means that restaurants and other foodservice businesses have the power to help change our food systems for the better in very real, tangible ways, making a huge difference in the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises. Understanding your scope 3 emissions can also have numerous, more immediate benefits within your business, such as:
- Increasing corporate accountability and transparency
- Preparing for potentially tighter regulations around Scope 3 reporting down the line
- Regularly evaluating your procurement choices can lead to cost savings and greater efficiency
- Improving energy efficiency throughout your value chain can also lead to cost reductions
- Transparent sustainability work boosts brand reputation and, potentially, attracts more customers.
Scope 3 thinking beyond carbon
As we mentioned above, any real work to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions must include a comprehensive evaluation of all activities throughout your supply chains… and this way of thinking can be applied to all elements of reducing your restaurant’s overall footprint. Looking up- and down-stream to see how your decisions affect the environment can have a truly enormous impact, echoing across the entire value chain. Fostering strong relationships with farmers, producers and suppliers and building a robust supply chain based on solid, transparent sustainability commitments is key to significant reductions in the impact of your overall operation.
There are plenty of practical ways to measure and reduce your environmental within your own operations, all of which are important. However, your impact can be multiplied by considering the water use, energy use and pollution that may be happening throughout your entire value chain and in your local community, starting a ripple effect for reduction. Here are some practical ways you can implement Scope 3 thinking in these other areas, building a green supply chain.
Approaching water use like Scope 3 emissions
Conduct water risk mapping across your supply chain – resources like these from the WWF may be useful. Because of the nature of the restaurant business, it’s important to consider the water use embedded in your ingredients and how they’re produced. For foods that are inherently water-heavy (like meat and nuts), you might consider redesigning your menus so that these feature less regularly and/or less prominently, replacing them with more planet-friendly proteins. Do some research into the areas from which ingredients are sourced, too: do they have sustainable water management plans in place? What are the irrigation methods used by the farmers who supply your business? You could also look to contribute to collective action projects that protect freshwater resources, whether in your own country or further afield.
Bringing Scope 3 thinking to energy use
Another element in cultivating a green supply chain is energy use. It’s important for every industry to begin a transition to renewable energy sources (moving away from fossil fuels), but also to reduce overall energy consumption wherever possible, and this is true for every company with whom you work. Are you aware of the energy sources used by your suppliers? Could you switch to those who have ambitious reduction targets for their own energy use, or who have already committed to using only renewable energy? Perhaps you could set a goal – with a clearly designated timeframe – to buy only from those using green energy sources, giving your current suppliers time (and incentive) to make the switch.
Have you seen our new, free-of-charge downloadable resource, Renewable Energy Solutions: A Toolkit for the UK Food & Drink Sector? Combining our in-house sustainability expertise and industry knowledge with specialised insights from Integrate to Zero, this toolkit has been designed to be as useful as possible for F&B businesses.
Applying the Scope 3 concept to pollution
Limiting the amount of pollution directly caused by your business activities is important in its own right, but questioning where air, water or soil pollution may be occurring throughout your supply chain can have an even wider impact. Working with shorter supply chains and cultivating relationships directly with farmers and producers can help.
Did you know that over 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities? Due to the problem of agricultural run-off (one of the main ways in which pesticide residues are introduced into water systems), look to buy and serve more plant foods and less meat, and choose organic and/or regeneratively farmed options wherever possible. Have discussions with suppliers about the chemical use in their own operations – including how they ensure that cleaning products, caustic agents, solvents and fats don’t end up in waterways – and see where you can inspire positive change.
Reducing your footprint downstream
Looking downstream is important, too! Make sure you’re communicating your work around these issues, sharing your progress, struggles and wins. By making this information available to different stakeholder groups (from your investors and suppliers through to your employees, customers and community), you improve transparency and accountability while also educating on key issues and empowering others to take action within their own spheres of influence.
For staff, transparent sustainability commitments can be a powerful motivator, facilitating better attraction and retention and encouraging your team to play their own part in reducing your footprint. For all the actors in your supply chain, understanding your priorities can guide their own operations and purchasing decisions. When it comes to your customers and wider community, sharing the details of your hard work can boost your reputation, attract new customers and perhaps inspire better choices elsewhere.
‘Reduce Your Footprint’ is just one of 10 key focus areas of the Food Made Good Framework – the foundation of the world’s largest sustainability accreditation tailored for the hospitality sector. Read about the Food Made Good Standard here, or sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on how we’re supporting businesses like yours.
BELU AND THE SRA SERVE UP A NEW SMALL BUSINESS GUIDE TO SUSTAINABILITY
- Sustainability News
- Food Made Good
- Support the Community
- Energy Efficiency
- TREAT STAFF FAIRLY
- Social Impact
- SUPPORT FARMERS AND FISHERS
- CELEBRATE PROVENANCE
- Reduce Your Footprint
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
WHO IS THE WORLD'S MOST SUSTAINABLE BARTENDER 2023?
- Sustainability News
GREAT NEWS! WELCOMING A NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH LUXURY RESTAURANT GUIDE
- Sustainability News