This article is sponsored by Together for Sustainability.
For those in the chemical sector, the record temperatures experienced across the world this summer was another reminder of the crucial role we must play in addressing the climate crisis. Alongside other integral industries such as infrastructure and energy, the chemical sector forms the backbone of the global economy through its role as an innovator and solutions provider. But in addition, it is also responsible for a high level of global greenhouse gas emissions, 77 percent of which are from the supply chain — part of indirect Scope 3 GHG emissions.
To tackle the Scope 3 challenge and alter the course of the chemical sector’s climate trajectory, Together for Sustainability (TfS) introduced the Scope 3 GHG Program, an industry-wide approach to monitor, manage and reduce emissions throughout the chemical supply chain.
Founded in 2011 by six chemical companies — BASF, Bayer, Evonik, Henkel, Lanxess and Solvay — TfS is a global initiative promoting sustainability across the chemical industry’s supply chain. The network consists of 47 of the world’s largest chemical groups, with a global reach spanning Europe, the Americas and Asia.
This September marks an important milestone as we celebrate one year since the launch of TfS’ Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) Guideline — the global gold standard for transparency and simplicity when calculating emissions in chemical supply chains. It is now one of TfS’ core offerings alongside Assessments and Audits, aimed at fostering sustainable and resilient supply chains in the chemical sector.
The first of its kind, the Guideline provides a step-by-step guide for chemical suppliers and adjacent industries to calculate the carbon footprint of their products, providing chemical producers with the data they need to set tangible emissions reductions targets and drive decarbonization across the sector.
Since launching the PCF Guideline last year, TfS has focused on progressing and raising awareness of the tool amongst members and adjacent industries, resulting in over 7,000 downloads of the Guideline so far. We are in the first year of its implementation and still have a long way to go, but by arming chemical companies with the right formula to calculate emissions from their supply chains, we believe we can spark a change within the sector and tackle the Scope 3 challenge.
"The establishment of the TfS PCF Guideline has played an integral role towards the commitments and targets surrounding Sika's Net Zero Pledge, as well as a defining factor in ensuring GHG emissions transparency within Sika's supply chain and future business development," said Marcos Vazquez, head of procurement at Sika, a TfS member. "We recognize the need for a standardized approach across the chemical industry, and driving this will be a key priority for Sika Procurement, in line with Sika's current and future strategies."
Merck also is implementing TfS’ PCF Guideline to calculate the Product Carbon Footprints for chemicals. "We are currently piloting a PCF calculation tool to automate the process for Merck’s finished goods globally, using TfS’ methodology to ensure we are aligning with the global gold standard for chemical emissions tracking," said Andreas Polomski, head of Climate Action at Merck. "This tool will help us provide our customers with accurate PCF data, allowing them to see which products have reduced emissions, such as our bio-based acetone."
"The launch of the TfS guideline is leading to more harmonized PCF values throughout the value chain, resulting in increased transparency and accuracy of emissions disclosure related to Covestro’s products," said Ferdinand Rammrath, CPO at Covestro. "Covestro is actively engaging with its suppliers using the TfS Guideline. We are receiving a growing amount of supplier-specific PCF values and insights into GHG reduction potentials in order to push forward towards Net Zero."
Building on this positive trajectory and to encourage further adoption of the PCF Guideline’s methodology, TfS is piloting a PCF data-sharing solution using Siemens SiGREEN technology. The solution aims to drive transparency in the chemical sector, facilitate large-scale PCF data exchange and contribute to decarbonization goals. By using the PCF Guideline as the method to calculate a PCF — and the IT solution to share the information at scale — TfS’ members will be equipped with the tools required to reach their GHG reduction goals and make their contribution towards the Paris Agreement. Companies in the TfS Scope 3 GHG emissions working group are involved in the ongoing pilot and, if successful, this will lead to broader adoption by TfS members and their suppliers in early 2024.
Collaborating beyond chemicals
With Scope 3 emissions typically accounting for over 70 percent of a business’ carbon footprint, collaboration with companies adjacent to the chemical sector is vital. Although the Guideline was created to meet the needs of chemical corporations, it is also a "drop-in" solution for other global industries that use chemical materials.
From personal care to plastics, automotive to agriculture, these industries are dependent on chemical supply chains. In the past year, TfS has run a successful awareness campaign with 50 industry associations and initiatives globally, obtaining recognition or endorsement in the chemical and other downstream sectors (lubricants, plastics and rubber, textiles) in Europe, Asia and North America. TfS is also a key partner of WBCSD-PACT for the chemical sector. Overall, TfS is positioning the PCF Guideline as the gold standard solution to product-level carbon accounting and Scope 3 emissions tracking for chemical and plastics materials.
As we approach the Paris Agreement’s 2030 milestone (to reduce GHG emissions by 45 percent by 2030, with the overall goal of net zero by 2050) the urgency to meet climate targets grows. Interim targets set for 2030 are just seven years away and will require accelerated efforts, increased resources and effective solutions to meet them.
Looking ahead, TfS aims to have the tools in place for the chemical sector to tackle the Scope 3 challenge. The focus will shift towards mobilizing members to engage with suppliers to share more transparent data so they can begin to account for emissions reductions along the value chain. We recognize there is much more to do, but due to the innovative nature of the chemical industry, we believe we can act as a catalyst for change and drive forward the transition to a low-carbon future.