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Paper tips for a Carbon Net Zero strategy

To make quantifiable progress towards net zero, you need to make sure you are measuring the right things, says Denmaur’s Danny Doogan.

By Danny Doogan

Paper tips for a Carbon Net Zero strategy

If you are embarking on a net zero plan, or if you’ve started the process already, then hats off. Scope 3 reporting is now a feature of supply chain compliance as well as a legal requirement in some cases and taking responsibility for measuring it and implementing actions for reducing it are key.

Measuring carbon has been segregated in order to gauge responsibility, measurement and control. Scope 1 covers emissions from sources that an organisation directly owns or controls – eg. diesel for a fleet of vehicles. Scope 2 are indirect emissions an organisation generates via its purchased fossil-fuel based energy. Scope 3 are indirect emissions that occur in the organisation’s value chain, including both upstream and downstream carbon emissions.

The average organisation’s scope 3 emissions are between 5 to 25 times higher than its combined scope 1 and 2 emissions. The GHG protocol has identified 15 categories of scope 3 emissions:

  1. Purchased goods and services
  2. Capital goods
  3. Fuel and energy related activities not included in scope 1 or 2
  4. Upstream transportation and distribution
  5. Waste generated in operations
  6. Business travel
  7. Employee commuting
  8. Upstream leased assets
  9. Downstream transportation and distribution
  10. Processing of sold products
  11. Use of sold products
  12. End-of-life treatment of sold products
  13. Downstream leased assets
  14. Franchises
  15. Investments

Certain categories are easy to quantify, whereas other categories can be difficult to calculate, and not all of the 15 categories will be relevant – this varies from sector to sector.

The overwhelming majority of paper manufacturers can now provide the scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions (carbon footprint) relating to the production of their paper grades. Otherwise, recent research by RISE has calculated the average carbon footprint of European graphical paper to be 561kgs of CO2e per tonne of paper produced, and this provides a relatively accurate benchmark, should it not be possible to obtain the required information.

Hence you have an accurate starting point for one of your scope 3 categories, purchased goods. Furthermore, mills themselves are on similar journeys and, so, during the course of the next 5, 10 and 20 years, they will continue to decarbonise their operations and manufacture exceptionally low, if not zero, carbon paper and board products. If their targets are met, then so are yours.

Tracking the carbon emissions of upstream deliveries is also a recommended scope 3 category to target. This is quite an easy one to report on, albeit the emissions are comparatively low for paper and board grades sourced from Europe.

In the meantime, aligning with a valid offsetting or balancing scheme remains a good demonstration of your carbon commitment whilst you continue on your net zero path.

About us

Denmaur has been one of the established names in the print and publishing sectors since 1983. Today, Denmaur Paper Media has become one of the leading specialist paper suppliers in the UK, offering a comprehensive range of innovative and sustainable products to suit traditional and modern print processes.