Scope 3 emissions

Scope 3 emissions

Sustainability in your value chain

Whether you are just starting to consider your value chain emissions or already have a net-zero roadmap in place and want support turning your ambitions into reality, Ricardo has the expertise to help.
Tackling your Scope 3 emissions demonstrates sustainability leadership to your stakeholders, and increases your adaptability to future climate and legislative challenges.

What are Scope 3 emissions?

Scope 3 (or ‘value chain’) emissions are the indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in your organisation’s value chain outside of your own operations.

They include the emissions embodied in, or associated with, the goods and services you purchase, and the lifetime emissions of products you sell, as well as the more commonly known sources such as employee business travel and commuting, third party transportation services, water consumption and waste disposal. Scope 3 also includes more niche areas such as emissions from your leased out buildings and vehicles, franchises and investments in third parties.
Scope 3 emissions explainedClick to enlarge

Scope 3 emissions are always the Scope 1 and 2 emissions of others. As such, targeting Scope 3 emissions is not just about reducing your organisation’s own emissions, it’s about supporting your suppliers and customers as part of the global drive towards a low carbon future.

Your Scope 3 emissions can account for up to 90% of your organisation’s greenhouse gas impact.

How do you calculate Scope 3 emissions?

The globally recognised approach to measuring and reporting Scope 3 emissions is the GHG Protocol Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard. For each category of emissions, there are several possible methodologies to follow, the selection of which depends on data availability, reporting and tracking intentions, and materiality of the emissions category.

To start with, key categories such as purchased goods and services are typically calculated using spend-based carbon intensity conversion factors, showing that the more your organisation spends, the greater your carbon emissions will be. This implies that to reduce GHG emissions, your organisation must reduce spend. This is often incompatible with business growth and also fails to reflect the real emissions of your own value chain.
To move on from this approximation technique, where possible, we calculate a value-chain carbon footprint using methodologies that are specific to your suppliers and their activities. This better highlights your carbon hotspots so that you can pursue effective carbon reduction, while continuing to grow through sustainable procurement and supply chain engagement.



  • Confirm relevant Scope 3 categories
  • Review data availability
  • Establish data hierarchy


  • Collect data
  • Calculate according to data hierarchy using supplier specific methodologies where beneficial and feasible


  • Develop a publishable report describing methodologies used
  • Identitfy hotspots


  • Set a reduction target aligned with your organisation’s ambitions and commitments


  • Develop an actionable implementation plan
  • Develop sustainable procurement policies and strategies.

Understand your carbon hotspots and implement effective solutions

Ricardo has the expertise and experience to help you drive down emissions across your value chain. Whether it’s conducting life cycle assessments (LCAs) to identify the key hotspots in your product's lifecycle, or helping you to develop sustainable procurement policies to tackle upsteam emissions, our dedicated team of experts are here to help.

By carrying out Scope 3 emissions inventories and LCAs, Ricardo has helped hundreds of organisations understand the environmental impacts across their value chain. Our tried-and-tested approach enables you to fully understand those activities that your organisation should address to achieve the greatest impact on your Scope 3 emissions.
Using our sustainable procurement and supply chain engagement expertise, we will work with you to develop practical decarbonisation strategies that target those key areas. We will help you to develop policies and practical initiatives to drive down your value chain emissions and align sustainability with growth.

A strong track record in monitoring and decarbonisation

Ricardo is a world leader in all areas related to GHG inventories. We have operated the UK Government’s emissions inventory programme for more than 30 years – including its GHG reporting. We have a long track record helping organisations with baselining, developing and implementing carbon reduction strategies and policies; and responding to environmental legislation.

Bespoke support for your organisation

We can support you no matter where your organisation is on its value chain sustainability journey. We can help you:

  • Calculate your Scope 3 emissions based on information specific to your supply chain and business.
  • Develop a deliverable emissions reduction strategy that meets your needs and ambitions.
  • Align Scope 3 emissions reduction with an existing net zero roadmap.
  • Set a net-zero or other decarbonisation targets and support your application to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) should you wish to formally validate your ambitions.
  • Identify projects and policies needed to achieve your ambitions.
  • Support effective implementation.
  • Communicate your successes to your stakeholders.

If you want to demonstrate sustainability leadership by tackling your Scope 3 GHG emissions or you have any questions on the topic, please get in touch using the enquiry form on this page.

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