In an era of intensifying climate concerns, comprehending and reporting on Scope 3 emissions is becoming essential for corporate social responsibility. As entities strive for net zero targets, analyzing the entire value chain emissions, including those beyond direct control, becomes critical. Understanding and managing Scope 3 emissions can significantly lower the carbon footprint and drive sustainability efforts.

This article aims to provide clients with a comprehensive view on the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and its emphasis on Scope 3 emissions within product lifecycle management, manufacturing and value chain perspectives. It offers strategies rooted in digital transformation, particularly through ecoPLM – to navigate clients through the challenges and provide best practices for CSRD reporting.

CSRD explained

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) represents a significant advancement in the European Union’s efforts to enhance transparency, efficiency, and accountability in the world of sustainability reporting. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the CSRD:

Regulatory Framework and Scope

  • The CSRD is a key regulatory framework by the EU, mandating a broader range of companies to report on sustainability impacts, including Scope 3 emissions .
  • It applies to EU companies listed on a market, large companies not listed, and those within a large group, as well as non-EU companies with significant operations within the EU.
  • An estimated 49,000 entities will fall under the CSRD, increasing the number from 11,700 under the previous directive.
  • Companies must comply with the CSRD by the following deadlines: 2025 for those under the NFRD, 2026-2029 for all large and most listed European companies.

CSRD caption, hands over keyboard, laptop, man working on laptop

Disclosure and reporting requirements

  • The directive mandates detailed disclosures across environmental, social, and governance (ESG) topics, as per the 12 European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS).
  • Disclosures must be comprehensive and granular, covering the company’s business model, strategy, policies, KPIs, targets, and governance, among other aspects.
  • Mandatory external assurance is required for all reported sustainability information, ensuring data integrity and reliability.
  • Companies must submit their sustainability data in a standardized digital format (ESEF/XBRL), facilitating machine readability and accessibility.

Alignment with other standards and initiatives

  • The CSRD aligns with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and requires reporting in line with the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol.
  • It emphasizes the concept of double materiality, focusing on the company’s impact on the planet and people, as well as how sustainability issues affect the company’s financial health.
  • The directive seeks to address the “accountability gap” and improve the quality of sustainability reporting, thereby preventing greenwashing.

Incorporating the special element of sustainability in manufacturing, product lifecycle management, services, and value chain, facilitating data-centric approach for emission with solutions like ecoPLM can significantly streamline CSRD reporting. This approach underscores the importance of digital transformation in achieving comprehensive and accurate sustainability reporting. Companies are encouraged to utilize such digital solutions to meet the CSRD requirements effectively, particularly when tackling the complex task of measuring and reporting Scope 3 emissions, which are indirect emissions from a company’s value chain.

visualisation of metrics and files, person working on project, laptop

Scope 3 emissions and their significance

Scope 3 emissions are a critical aspect of an organization’s carbon footprint and energy consumption and are increasingly significant in the context of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. As we delve into their importance in sustainable design, we must recognize the complex nature of these emissions and the role they play in product lifecycle management and the value chain. Here are key points to understand about Scope 3 emissions:

Value chain impact

  • Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions that occur within an organization’s value chain, including both upstream and downstream activities.
  • They often represent most of an organization’s total GHG emissions, sometimes accounting for over 90% of the total emissions, which underscores their significance in reducing an organization’s carbon footprint.

Categories and estimation

  • The GHG Protocol categorizes Scope 3 emissions into 15 distinct types, encompassing a range of activities from raw material extraction to the end-of-life treatment of sold products.
  • Accurate estimation of these emissions is essential and relies on emission factors from sources like the EPA’s USEEIO and GHG Emission Factors Hub.
  • Organizations are encouraged to report on all relevant categories and continuously improve accuracy as more data becomes available.

Challenges and solutions

  • Calculating Scope 3 emissions can be challenging due to their indirect nature and the breadth of activities they cover, which can range from 65 to 95% of a company’s carbon impact.
  • To manage these emissions effectively and align with initiatives like the proposed CSRD, which supports product lifecycle management and provides visibility into the sustainability of supply chains.

By addressing Scope 3 emissions through strategic reporting and management, organizations can not only comply with regulatory mandates but also enhance their market position with credible green claims and contribute to the environment and broader goal of achieving net zero by 2050. It is essential for companies to embrace collaboration with stakeholders, utilize accurate data, and adopt innovative technologies to mine waste and other materials to ensure a comprehensive approach to sustainability in their value chain.

man holding Earth in hands, digital visualisation of company goals

Challenges in reporting Scope 3 emissions

Companies embarking on the journey of Scope 3 emissions reporting face a multifaceted challenge that intertwines data management, stakeholder collaboration, regulation, legal and operational conditions, and integration. The following points highlight the primary obstacles common requirements and considerations for businesses:

Complex supply chain dynamics

  • Engaging with suppliers and vendors is imperative to capture upstream emissions data, necessitating a proactive approach across the entire supply chain.
  • Downstream emissions tracking requires meticulous monitoring through all life cycle stages after creation.
  • The ecoPLM can be instrumental in navigating these complexities by providing a technological framework for managing product lifecycle and value chain sustainability.

Data quality and standardization issues

  • Data Availability and Quality: High-quality primary data is often scarce, particularly among smaller businesses, leading to gaps in reporting.
  • Disclosure Standards: Evolving and inconsistent reporting standards necessitate specialized knowledge and can result in varied interpretations by different entities.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Acquiring accurate data often hinges on collaboration yet concerns about confidentiality and reputation may impede the necessary level of cooperation.
  • Resource Constraints: SMEs may find the volume of data required for Scope 3 reporting overwhelming due to limited integration into business operations and resource constraints.

Methodological and operational challenges

  • Calculation Methodologies: Businesses must grapple with whether to use a static or dynamic data approach, the intricacies of a ‘spend-based’ method, and the challenges of extrapolating results to ensure ‘trust & audit readiness’.
  • Resource Intensiveness: The process of collecting and reporting Scope 3 data can be time-consuming and require significant resources, which may be in short supply, especially for smaller organizations.
  • Modeling and Actual Improvements: An overreliance on modeling can sometimes overshadow the pursuit of tangible improvements in emissions, prompting a need to balance assumptions with actionable strategies.
  • Corporate GHG Inventory: Establishing a comprehensive inventory is crucial for planning decarbonization strategies, as it identifies the operations with the highest emissions impact.
  • New Management Systems: To effectively communicate data, businesses must implement management systems that can rapidly adapt to changes and disseminate information in a fast, accessible manner.

In conclusion, while the challenges are significant, they underscore the importance of integrating sustainability into the core of business operations. By leveraging digital solutions and services  organizations can streamline the reporting process, enhance the accuracy of their emissions data, less cost and take meaningful steps toward reducing their carbon footprint across their value chains.

digital visualisation of CO2 metrics

Strategies for effective CSRD compliance

To ensure effective CSRD compliance, for example, particularly with respect to Scope 3 emissions reporting, organizations can adopt the following strategies:

Developing credible transition plans

  • Establish clear targets for Scope 3 emissions reduction.
  • Create transition plans that are informed by data and aligned with net-zero strategies.
  • Incorporating ecoPLM from TT PSC to integrate sustainability throughout the product lifecycle and value chain.

Enhancing supplier engagement

  • Map the company’s value chain early to identify significant sources of Scope 3 emissions.
  • Work closely with suppliers to measure and manage emissions, setting performance goals and implementing incentives.

Adopting a phased approach

  • Recognize that not all emissions can be tackled simultaneously; prioritize areas with the greatest impact.
  • Develop a baseline for performance and set realistic, incremental goals.
  • Engage in continuous monitoring and adjustment of strategies to improve emissions management.

Building collaborative networks

  • Engage in data collaboration with supply chain partners and third-party providers.
  • Promote harmonization of standards for global consistency in reporting.
  • Elevate understanding and use of emission reporting through training and stakeholder engagement programs.

Utilizing financial and non-financial measures

  • Incentivize suppliers through procurement policies, capability building, and rewarding progress.
  • Enforce performance through concrete metrics and regular monitoring.
  • Integrate emission measurement into procurement and other business policies.

By embracing these strategies, organizations can not only comply with the CSRD but also seize new business opportunities, enhance stability, create, and contribute to the global effort of achieving net zero by 2050. The pivotal role of technology and data in this process is paramount, offering companies the tools to effectively manage their emissions and solidify their commitment to sustainability.

visualisation of SDGs around the plant


Throughout this article, we’ve explored the multifaceted nature of Scope 3 emissions and the obligations set forth by the CSRD, emphasizing the importance of sustainability within product lifecycle management and the value chain. Strategies rooted in the framework of ecoPLM from TT PSC underscore the critical role of technology in achieving transparent and effective sustainability reporting. These efforts don’t merely meet regulatory demands—they pave the way for a future where businesses operate with a heightened focus and commitment to environmental stewardship.

As companies continue their sustainability journey, the cohesive integration of emissions management and sustainable design across their value chains remains paramount. To remain at the forefront of sustainability leadership and action, learning about design for sustainability practices can equip businesses with the necessary knowledge to refine their sustainable design approach. Achieving net zero targets for sustainable design buildings and establishing robust environmental credentials is not just a compliance exercise but an opportunity to drive real change—an investment in our collective future, and a testament to the power of sustainable design and responsible corporate citizenship.

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