WRAP to lead work on developing ‘shared, consistent framework’ for measuring, reporting, and sharing environmental data on food and drink supply chains

More than 100 companies in the UK food and drink industry have come together to develop a shared, consistent framework for measuring the environmental and climate impact of their global supply chains, in a bid to support the drive towards net zero value chain emissions.

Waste charity WRAP yesterday announced it has set up a working group to develop the framework under the auspices of the 2030 Courtauld Commitment, the food and drink industry’s voluntary set of collective environmental, climate, and food waste goals. The aim is for the new framework to be published later this year.

Around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to food systems, while for most food and drink businesses emissions generated in their supply chains – also known as Scope 3 emissions – account for the vast majority of their climate and biodiversity impact.

Yet the complexity of food and drink supply chains mean that measuring Scope 3 emissions requires data to be accessed from hundreds of thousands of farmers and ingredient producers around the world, including many smallholders, which presents major challenges for the sector, the waste charity explained.

WRAP said the climate crisis could therefore not be addressed without the creation of a shared framework for measuring the food and drink sector’s Scope 3 emissions so as to secure better, more reliable data that food producers, suppliers, and retailers can then act on.

WRAP chief executive Marcus Gover said the current lack of a consistent framework for measuring Scope 3 emissions was a “burden for suppliers and makes it impossible to compare the information provided by different businesses”.

“There is currently no consistent way of quantifying supply chain emissions and businesses either have to commission expensive life cycle analysis for each ingredient or use average values from a variety of contrasting public data sets,” he explained. “If we are to make reliable progress in tackling climate change then we have to have a common measurement and an agreed set of emission factors that everyone can use.”

By developing a shared framework for measuring and reporting supply chain impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and food loss and waste, Gover argued the industry would be better equipped to come up with practical measures to reduce their impact on the planet.

“This is new, difficult and incredibly important work – no one has quite tackled the problem in this way before,” he said. “It will enable incentives to be introduced as part of driving systems change, rewarding practices that support net zero and biodiversity targets. It will also enable clear eco labelling to be developed that can be trusted by consumers.”

WRAP said it had set up the working group in order to find a solution to the challenge, and in April it plans to publish a draft document to assist practical piloting of a framework, alongside best publicly available data sources for food and drink ingredients.

These resources will then be “rigorously tested” by WRAP throughout 2022 and 2023 in order to create a “living document” that can be updated on a regular basis, it said.

The eventual Scope 3 value chain framework that emerges aims to use consistent accounting and reporting methods that build on the existing Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the Science Based Target initiative, and Gold Standard’s carbon offsetting certification scheme.

Gover said WRAP had received “unprecedented interest and support” for the initiative from over 100 organisations signed up to the 2030 Courtauld Commitment, which requires businesses to halve food waste across the sector from 2007 levels, halve emissions from 2015 levels, and ensure 50 per cent of fresh food is sourced from areas with sustainable water management by the end of the decade.

“Over the last year we have been working with businesses and suppliers from the UK and internationally to create this framework and establish a consistent way of collecting and checking data along the supply chain,” he said. “Everyone is aware of the need for data they use to be trustworthy and of the need to collaborate to reduce the burden on suppliers – the majority of whom are family farmers.”

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