The journey to Net-Zero: Reducing scope 3 waste-related emissions

A summary of the key takeaways from a recent webinar on reducing scope 3 waste-related emissions.

Shoosmiths is delighted to be sponsoring United Nation Global Compact Network (UNGC) UK’s series of webinars on ‘Reducing Scope 3 Emissions’.

The event featured guest speakers: Emma Watson, Net-Zero Senior Manager, CDP and Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi); Kim McCann, Global Head of Sustainability - Consumer & Manufacturing, PA Consulting; and Dr Warren Bowden, Head of Sustainability & Innovation, Scottish Leather Group.

  • Categories 5 and 12 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s Corporate Value Chain Accounting and Reporting Standard address Scope 3 emissions associated with a company’s upstream and downstream waste in the reporting year.
  • As per the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s Technical Guidance, emissions arising from waste generated in operations (Category 5) can be calculated by:
    • Supplier-specific method, which involves collecting waste-specific Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions data directly from waste treatment companies (e.g., for incineration, recovery for recycling).
    • Waste-type-specific method, which involves using emission factors for specific waste types and waste treatment methods.
    • Average-data method, which involves estimating emissions based on total waste going to each disposal method (e.g., landfill) and average emission factors for each disposal method.
  • These methods can also be used to calculate emissions from end-of-life treatment of sold products (Category 12). However, companies should instead collect data on total mass of sold products (and packaging) from the point of sale through to consumer disposal.
  • For many sectors, waste-related emissions may be relatively immaterial in comparison to other Scope 3 emissions categories. However, there are significant opportunities to explore circularity and instead reduce emissions associated with purchased goods and services. For example, businesses can:
    • Use by-products for another use. For example, using a beer by-product to produce baked goods.
    • Find new uses for used products; for example, Ecobooth transforms hard-to-recycle plastics into equipment for live event activities.
    • Reduce waste; for example, Dole Asia Holdings has implemented new processes to eliminate waste and better inform decision-making.
  • Major partnerships are bringing circular business models to life, for example:
    • Retailers are acquiring facilities and partnering with other companies across the packaging waste value chain. For instance, Morrisons will become the first supermarket to own its recycling operations, having bought a stake in a recycling plant.
    • Key technologies are scaling fast; UK chemical recycling reprocessing capacity is expected to grow by 45% each year from 2020 to 2030.
    • Some energy companies are integrating waste management capabilities and treatment technologies to capture the increasing demand.
  • Waste can be converted into heat to reduce reliance on fossil fuels (and associated emissions) and waste-related emissions, as exemplified by Scottish Leather Group.
  • It is key to present a business’ waste impact in a clear and transparent way. Life cycle analysis (LCA), which incorporates supply chain emissions, can be very useful for this.
  • Regulations around waste-related emissions are imperfect. The future changes to EPR regulations adding to existing regulations) will likely generate high compliance costs, so businesses should act now to minimise these.

To register for other events in the ‘Reducing Scope 3 Emissions’ webinar series, please visit our website.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.


Listen to the webinar


Read the latest articles and commentary from Shoosmiths or you can explore our full insights library.