Frequently, these targets include reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While regulatory action is stalled in many parts of the world, companies are leading the way to reduce their climate impact – some even setting goals according to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which aligns emission reduction targets with the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.
These commitments are not born of altruism alone. Long-term business sustainability – and risk mitigation – drive many organizations to invest resources toward combating climate change. Undertaking these initiatives may also boost the bottom line, as environmental concerns continue to permeate mainstream consumer and investor preferences. Approximately 90 percent of consumers are likely to switch to more sustainable brands given comparable price and quality, and more than one out of every five dollars under professional management in the United States was invested in sustainable strategies in 2016 (an increase of 33 percent from 2014).1,2
However, setting and achieving goals around GHG reduction is not always straightforward. While quantifying emissions from owned operations is the easiest place to start, often a company’s greatest climate impact occurs outside its four walls. Emissions from the supply chain, distribution, consumer use, investments and product end-of-life can represent a much larger carbon footprint – and a much more complex challenge to address.
More information about quantifying sustainability impacts and setting successful sustainability goals is detailed in a recent NSF International white paper.
For those unfamiliar with carbon accounting, GHG emissions are categorized into three scopes:
• Scope 1 represents direct emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by a company (e.g., natural gas combustion in a company facility).
• Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by a company, such as those that result from the generation of electricity, heat or steam purchased by the company from a utility provider.
• Scope 3 emissions result from sources not owned or directly controlled by a company but related to its activities. Scope 3 includes activities such as employee travel, shipping, procurement, product use, waste disposal and wastewater treatment.
For those just getting started on their sustainability journey, conducting an inventory for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions is a logical place to start. However, leading organizations understand that larger strides can be made by quantifying impacts within Scope 3 and developing strategies to address them.
What Are Coatings Companies Doing?
AkzoNobel: In 2017, AkzoNobel reduced CO2 emissions by 100,000 tons. It was able to achieve this drastic reduction by implementing a new bio-steam facility, a combined heat and power (CHP) plant that provides both electricity and steam from renewable biomass. The company has publicly set goals of being carbon neutral and using 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.3
PPG: Not all reductions are associated with energy use reductions. PPG, at its Milan operations, cut transportation-related CO2 emissions 76 percent in 2017 by switching to intermodal shipping jnk. Rather than exclusively using trucks for distributing products, intermodal transport takes advantage of energy-efficient trains for long-distance shipping, with trucks used for short distances and intermediate travel. This move saved PPG 615 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions and nearly $390,000 annually in transportation costs.4
What You Can Do
While GHG quantification and management can be a challenge, the trends are clear that customers, investors and consumers are calling for private sector action on climate change. Whether you are just starting out or are further along in your journey, you don’t have to navigate alone. Third-party resources and sustainability experts can help you conduct and verify a GHG inventory, benchmark against your competitors, set goals and take steps to achieve them.
1Ecovadis. Building the Business Case for Sustainable Procurement: A 5-Step Guide. 2015