Scope 3 GHG reporting in the food and drink sector

Learn how Scope 3 GHG emissions are defined in the food and drink sector and see the requirements an organisation needs to follow when reporting their Scope 3 emissions

Why Scope 3 GHG emissions are of critical importance in the food and drink sector

Studies have estimated that Scope 3 emissions for food and drinks business account for almost 90% of their total emissions. For example, Kraft Foods reported that 90% of its total emissions fell under its value chain (Scope 3). Therefore, if these businesses want to take steps towards carbon neutrality - as many have committed to - it is critical for them to reduce their Scope 3 emissions. This is easier said than done since Scope 3 emissions encompass indirect emissions that occur outside of a company’s direct control. 

Scope 3 is often broken down into ‘upstream’ emissions- those that occur within a companies supply chain - before arriving at a company site - and ‘downstream’ emissions, which are emitted following the sale of the product or service by the reporting company. Downstream emissions are likely to be significant for some food & drink businesses but can be challenging to quantify because of significant uncertainty. 

Figure: Upstream and downstream emission profiles for different types of businesses

Scope 3 reporting categories in the food and drink sectors

The table below highlights the Scope 3 categories which are recommended to be included as a minimum for different food & drink businesses;


GHG Protocol Scope 3 Categories

Food & Drink Manufacture



Restaurant, pubs, hotels

Catering services


Purchased goods and services



Capital goods



Fuel-and-energy-related activities



Upstream transportation and distribution



Waste generated in operations

X   X    


Business travel



Employee commuting

    X X  


Upstream leased assets



Downstream transportation and distribution

X X X X  


Processing of sold products



Use of sold products

X X X   X


EOL treatment of sold products



Downstream leased assets








Purchased goods and services

Extraction, production and transportation of goods and services purchased or acquired by the reporting company in the reporting year, not otherwise included in categories 2-8.

Capital goods

Includes all upstream emissions from the production of capital goods purchased or acquired by the reporting company. Capital goods are final products that have an extended life and are used by the company to manufacture a product, provide a service, for eg. embodied carbon in industrial refrigeration units, manufacturing equipment, packaging machines, kitchen appliances and vehicles.

Upstream transportation and distribution

Include transportation of products from tier 1 suppliers to the reporting company. Additionally include third-party transportation purchased by reporting companies, as well as emissions arising from storage of purchased products or finished goods in third-party operated distribution centres/ warehouses. 

Downstream transportation and distribution

This category includes emissions from transportation and distribution of products sold by the reporting company between the companies operations and the end consumers. This includes emissions from transportation of products to downstream factories and retailers, emissions associated with customers traveling to retail stores.

Waste generated in operations

Includes emissions from third-party disposal, handling and treatment of waste that is generated. Emissions from the disposal of both solid waste and wastewater are considered.

Use of sold products

This category includes emissions from the use of products sold by the reporting company. A reporting company’s scope 3 emissions from use of sold products include scope 1 and scope 2 emissions of end users. End users include both consumers and business customers that use the final products. This category includes direct use-phase emissions of sold products over their expected lifetime for products that directly consume energy. For food and drink products this does not apply - but they may indirectly consume energy (refrigeration or cooking). These indirect use-phase emissions are optional to include within the GHG Protocol Scope 3 standard but can be highly material and therefore should be considered. Calculating emissions from this category requires assumptions about how consumers use products. Dependent on the type of product this will principally include assumptions regarding:

  • How the product is stored ( eg. refrigerated, frozen) and for how long;
  • How the product is cooked (gas or electric oven/hob/microwave) and for how long

Some data sources available on appliance use are: BEIS ECUK- Energy consumption for food-related appliances

End-of-life treatment of sold products

This category includes emissions from the waste disposal and treatment of products sold. Calculating emissions requires assumptions about the typical fate of a product and its packaging at the end of its useful life. Assumptions include:

  • How much of the product and packaging is typically discarded
  • Waste management methods employed for each type of material discarded

Once the end-of-life profiles are determined (% wastage and management route for different products), these can be multiplied by quantities of products sold, to determine the total volume of different materials to different waste management routes. The last step is multiplying with emission factors to translate waste volumes into GHG emission estimates.


Head over to our guide on company level emissions reporting to read more about this use case and get started.

See also our intro to greenhouse gas reporting schemes

See also our API offerings for the food and drink sector