Guidance on Carbon

Every organisation will need to embrace carbon reduction measures if we’re to deliver on the government's net zero target, and the Paris Climate Agreement.

The following information will support those who want to find out more, learn from what other businesses are doing, and sign-post useful resources to help you on your journey. 


General_InfoGeneral Information

Whether you understand the causes and effect of climate change or not - having a low carbon transition plan is increasingly becoming a part of business. The low carbon transition will impact each business in a different way, through collaboration and transparent conversation we can make meaningful change together.  

Generally, emissions sources are defined under 3 ‘scopes’:

  • Scope 1 emissions account for direct emissions from activities within an organisation's control (eg, fuel combustion, company vehicles process emissions and fugitive emissions)
  • Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions associated with procured energy (for example, electricity, heat, or steam purchased and used)
  • Scope 3 emissions are all other indirect emissions across an organization’s value chain.

Managing Scopes 1 & 2 are easier; they are in your ‘direct control’. Scope 3 emissions are indirect, and therefore more complex. We therefore recommend you focus on scope 1 & 2 first, before moving onto Scope 3.

Further Support



TransparencyGet transparent - Reporting

‘If you can’t measure it; you can’t manage it’ - like any other Key Performance Indicator (KPI), it is essential to ensure you have the appropriate reporting mechanisms in place to baseline performance, set targets and measure progress.

Internal reporting - identifying emissions hotspots will provide your business with a climate risk and opportunities assessment. External Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) can bring valuable knowledge, though we have information in the ‘Further Support’ section if you are just getting started. 

External reporting - carbon reduction is a global challenge, impacting investors, customers, colleagues, and wider society. Being transparent on your position helps stakeholders understand, whilst sharing your successes and challenges helps the wider value-chain identify best-practice. Your lessons learnt are as valuable as success stories.

Further Support

In order to demonstrate performance, companies are encouraged to be transparent with their environmental performance. This includes: 

  • Split emissions by scope and emission source 
  • Compare performance versus the previous year
  • Publicly communicate your performance
  • Clearly state your metrics, and the boundaries used
  • If you can - have your footprint independently verified by a third party (to a standard such as ISO14064-3)

Calculating your carbon footprint can be complex – working with external SME’s has obvious benefits, however this often comes at a cost. The following links are helpful if you are just starting out.




Quick_WinsQuick Wins

Advanced reporting is not always needed to identify carbon reduction initiatives; eco-utility tariffs, resource efficiency and waste reduction projects are a few development examples which will support carbon reduction ambitions, as well as (often) producing a cost saving.


    Further Support 

    Taking a proactive approach on energy efficiency will reduce energy consumption, costs and drive environmental performance.  

    • Renewable energy: purchasing a certified renewable energy tariff can eliminate the carbon impact of all electricity consumed by your business for little to no extra cost. 
    • Measure and monitor: install sub-meters to identify areas where energy savings can be made and identify deterioration in system performance. 
    • Implement effective controls: installing automatic controls, like temperature checks and lighting controls will help control energy use and identify maintenance needs early.  
    • Maintenance: check pipework and controls for leaks, poor insulation, scale formation, sensors drifting and control valves sticking. Regularly inspect pumps, replace worn parts and clean filters. For cooling towers, check the thermostat controls on sump heaters, check for damage to fans and water dispersion equipment and check for potential to install variable speed drives.
    • Fleet: improving driver behaviour to increase fuel efficiency can reduce fuel consumption by 10-20%. And embrace electrification; ‘Go Ultra low’ have a selection of tools to help businesses work out which vehicle and government incentives are available, potentially savings on fuel, tax and road charges as well as maintenance (which may be 70% lower than non-electric comparisons).

    Extra Resources:

    Case Studies:


    CommitmentSet Targets

    A carbon target is a clear statement of ambition (helping customers like ourselves and other external stakeholders understand how your business supports their CR&S objectives) as well as ensuring internal stakeholders are working towards the same goal.

      Further Support  

      Set a short term target, before you set a long term one:

      • Targeting your own operations: communicating a GHG emission reduction target for your own operations (scope 1&2) is the simplest target to achieve for the majority of companies. Having direct control over GHG emission sources and procurement of energy means making a plan to reduce is easier. A commitment that your organisation can achieve means a lot more than an uncertain longer-term target covering the entire value chain.
      • Targeting your value chain: for suppliers, reaching zero or close to zero GHG emissions across the entire value chain is difficult due to a lack of resources and the market position of a large corporation. This is why starting with short-term commitments should be a priority over a long-term target.
      • Carbon neutrality:  inevitably all organisations will have residual emissions that cannot be removed, being net zero assumes that any residual emissions will be eliminated by carbon removal offsets. While trying to reduce your GHG emissions to zero, a practical step to take is achieve carbon neutrality. Carbon neutrality can be achieved through the purchase of verified offsets from a reputable source, such as Gold Standard offsets.
      • If you can - align to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

      Extra Resources:


      Be accountable

      Carbon reduction decisions must be made alongside other business decisions - by outlining clear accountabilities and governance, at all levels, your business will ensure carbon is part of its core decision-making process.


      Be realistically ambitious

      If both our businesses are to have long term environmental and commercial sustainability, it is important we are all realistically ambitious. Not everyone can be fast followers; Sainsbury’s suppliers need to be a coalition of the willing.


      Key Suppliers

      As our most trusted suppliers, we request you make annual submissions to CDP (food suppliers) or HIGG (clothing suppliers). In doing so, you help streamline the carbon reporting for both our businesses, whilst allowing us to collectively monitor progress towards a low carbon economy.

      If you are a:

      • Key food supplier - please make annual CDP submissions.
      • Key clothing suppliers - please make annual HIGG submission.

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