The apparel industry, known for its significant carbon footprint, is considered one of the worst polluting industries. It generates substantial greenhouse gas emissions, estimated to be around 1.01 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalents released into the atmosphere (source: www.statista.com). This sector's complexity arises from the interconnected processes throughout its supply chain, encompassing raw material production, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, product use, and end-of-life disposal.
Estimating Scope 3 emissions for the apparel sector is challenging due to the difficulty in accurately measuring and quantifying emissions from all these processes. Furthermore, obtaining data on Scope 3 emissions can be particularly challenging for smaller suppliers or companies with limited supply chain visibility.
While many companies try for the ‘quick fix’ options, by using spend based methods or online platforms, these methods typically give highly generalized emission values based on global or regional averages. These calculations are often flawed for many reasons, including;
Lack of data: Estimation requires assumptions and extrapolations, which may not accurately reflect the true emissions of a given activity or process. In the apparel sector, there is often a lack of reliable data on emissions from suppliers and subcontractors, which can make it challenging to estimate emissions accurately.
Complex supply chains: The apparel sector has complex supply chains that involve many different actors and processes, from raw material production to manufacturing and transportation. Estimation-based tools may not capture all the different sources of emissions in these supply chains, leading to inaccurate results.
Variability in production processes: Production processes for apparel can vary widely depending on the type of garment, the materials used, and the location of production. Estimation-based tools may not be able to account for this variability, leading to inaccurate emissions estimates.
Limited stakeholder engagement: Estimation-based tools rely on input from stakeholders, such as suppliers and subcontractors, to provide data on emissions. If stakeholders are not fully engaged or are not forthcoming with data, this can lead to inaccurate emissions estimates.
Limited Coverage: Estimation-based tools often have limited coverage of the entire supply chain, focusing on certain stages or processes. This can lead to underestimations or overestimations of emissions associated with the excluded processes.
Lack of transparency: Estimation-based tools may not be transparent about the assumptions and methodologies used to calculate emissions. This can make it difficult for stakeholders to understand the accuracy and limitations of the results.
Overall, the use of estimation-based tools can be useful for providing a rough estimate of Scope 3 emissions in the apparel sector. However, it is important to acknowledge the limitations of these tools and to complement them with more accurate and comprehensive methods, such as direct measurement and reporting. This can help ensure that emissions are accurately accounted for, and that effective strategies can be developed to reduce them.
Author: Sanith de Silva Wijeyeratne
Sanith is the Director & CEO of The Climate & Conservation Consortium (CCC) With extensive experience and expertise in Corporate Sustainability, he has been instrumental in shaping CCC into one of the leading advocates for sustainability in the region.
The Climate and Conservation Consortium (CCC) plays a crucial role in addressing the challenges associated with estimating Scope 3 emissions in the apparel sector. As a consortium dedicated to climate and conservation initiatives, the CCC offers expertise, resources, and collaboration opportunities to tackle environmental issues, including greenhouse gas emissions.
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