Supply Chain Emissions – An Approach for Estimating Product-Specific Upstream Scope 3 Emissions in Companies: A Case Study
Climate change poses major challenges for companies. From many sides, such as governments, investors, and above all customers, demands are being made for more climate-friendly and lower-emission products. To assess products for their environmental impact using established methods like life cycle assessment, numerous different environmentally relevant data such as electricity or fuel consumption must be collected and evaluated. Scope 3 emissions, as defined by the GHG Protocol, have come increasingly into focus in recent years due to their recognized magnitude and the resulting reduction potential. Obtaining qualitative primary data along increasingly complex supply chains often poses problems for companies. This paper contributes a concrete approach, based on secondary data, to estimate product-specific upstream scope 3 emissions for companies. This approach was developed under realistic conditions and consideration of the current LCA requirements of different customers in the course of a case study at a large German automotive supplier. The interaction of established ERP systems and spreadsheet programs as well as specialized LCA software was investigated. It turned out to be a user-friendly and cost-effective method for estimating scope 3 emissions. Furthermore, the flexibility of the approach made it possible to meet most LCA requirements. But as requirements tend to demand more and more primary data for their higher information value, it was also found, that approaches based on secondary data will probably constitute an interim solution.