Accelerating the Net Zero journey with Supply Chain technology

Accelerating the Net Zero journey with Supply Chain technology

Optilon Crew

Companies must help prevent the worst impacts of climate change by reducing their green house gas emissions (GHG). It has to happen as quickly as possible and as far down the Supply Chain as possible. In this blogpost we will look further into what Supply Chain sustainability is all about and get a deeper understanding of what green house gas emissions is in a Supply Chain context. We will look into how accelerating the Net Zero journey with Supply Chain technology can help you create competitive advantages as well as help save the planet.

Green House Gas emissions (GHG) in Supply Chain
Supply Chain sustainability is the management of environmental, social, and economic impacts and the encouragement of good governance practices, throughout the lifecycles of goods and services. The objective of Supply Chain sustainability is to create, protect and grow long-term environmental, social, and economic value for all stakeholders involved.

The Supply Chains are responsible for the majority of global emissions and must do its part to meet the goals that were set at the 21st Conference of Parties. The aim is basically, to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. We reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away.

According to the GHG Protocol, corporate emissions are categorized into three main groups: scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3. Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions produced by the burning of fuels of the emitter. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions generated by the electricity consumed and purchased by the emitter. Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions produced by the emitter activity, but owned and controlled by a different emitter from the one who reports on the emissions.

Growing urgency to reduce GHG
There is a growing urgency to reduce GHG emissions wherever possible and this includes reducing scope 3 emissions in addition to scope 1 and 2 emissions. To date most companies have been focusing on reducing their emissions under their direct ownership or control (scope 1). As well as their purchase of electricity, heat and steam (scope 2). Indirect emissions upstream and downstream in a company’s value stream (scope 3) are often left unabated.

Scope 3 emissions are the largest source of a company’s emissions in many sectors and is the hardest to influence and control. Approximately 40% of global GHG emissions are driven, or influenced, by companies through their purchases of goods and services and through the products they sell.

Focusing on scope 3 emissions can reduce the impact on climate change and can lead to substantial business benefits. Companies can mitigate risks within their Supply Chains, unlock new innovations and collaborations, and respond to mounting pressure from investors, customers, and civil society. Also, by disclosing Supply Chain emissions, the company will earn trust from its stakeholders and potentially gain new customers that support the transformation. A Sustainable Supply Chain can be a competitive advantage.

How can Supply Chain technology help accelerate the journey to net zero?
To reduce or improve the scope 3 intensity an organization can initiate projects, programs, business decisions or other actions and set targets, that are in line with the percentage reduction of absolute GHG emissions required. 

  • Supply Chain reconfiguration Reconfiguring the Supply Chain can be a time-consuming and challenging exercise. Most often the amount of data is extensive. Also, the speed in developing a decision-making model can be limited to yearly or quarterly exercises because time limits it. Technology can help you solve the toughest problems across your industry with innovative algorithms in a speedy fashion.
  • New business model Meeting sustainability targets does for some companies mean developing new business models. Having a decision-making model can help you reduce development time.

  • Greening end-to-end planning Optimizing the company’s approach to end-to-end Supply Chain planning from a CO2, as well as a cost and performance perspective, is also a well-known approach. In practical terms it means, focusing on the stock-to service curve. This means having only the stock that is needed to serve the clients. Fewer but right goods ensure lower obsolescence. It also translates to fewer freight ton kilometers, as less goods need to be transported. Efficient inventory management creates a more sustainable approach to producing, transporting, and selling goods across the globe.


(Source: Supply Chain Sustainability – A Practical Guide for Continuous Improvement, Un Global Compact and BSR)

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