Meijer Scope 3 Carbon Accounting Framework and Inventory
This project was conducted by six University of Michigan’s School of Environment and Sustainability graduate students (referred to as the research team) to support Meijer’s core values of sustainability by developing a Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) accounting framework and conducting a baseline emissions inventory for the fiscal year of 2021. Meijer has made significant progress in Scope 1 and Scope 2 goal setting and reductions. This research document outlines the foundational framework Meijer will use to carry out its Scope 3 GHG emissions inventory and calculates a benchmark inventory to inform goal-setting in the future.
As a retailer with business activities including procurement, distribution, manufacturing, and retail operations in six U.S. states, Meijer has a vast and complex value chain. In order to expand its sustainability programs and goals outside of its direct operations and into its value chain, Meijer must first complete a Scope 3 inventory to identify the most pertinent areas of impact and the most carbon intensive categories. This report helps establish that baseline.
Scope 3 emissions are defined as “indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain.” These are separate from the Scope 1 and 2 emissions that occur as part of a company’s direct operations. Scope 3 is intended to record, measure and manage the emissions occurring in a company’s value chain, between a company’s suppliers, manufacturers, and customers. The categories are intended to be mutually exclusive to avoid double counting emissions across Scope 3 categories or with Scope 1 or 2 GHG accounting.
The research team utilized the The Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard as guidance for calculating the relevant and material Scope 3 categories for Meijer. Out of the 15 Scope 3 Categories, 11 were deemed material; the four eliminated categories were excluded based on insignificant materiality to the business. The research team worked with internal Meijer stakeholders to procure data in alignment with the GHG Protocol guidance. Calculation methods were selected given data availability and constraints. A major challenge the research team encountered when mapping the US Environmentally-Extended Input-Output (USEEIO) emission factors, specifically for Category 1, to Meijer’s categories of goods and services, were misaligned categories between the two. To identify the business area in both sales and spend data, Meijer uses UNSPSC ID codes. It is difficult to map these codes to the EPA’s Emission Factors (EFs), which use NAICS codes, as there are not always direct matches. Additionally, the USEEIO methodology is based on an estimate of economic value of the goods and services, so as Meijer’s sales grow in the future, so will Category 1 while using the USEEIO methodology. However, the USEEIO methodology is well suited to illustrate emission “hotspots'' and which categories are the highest carbon emitters within Category 1. Going forward, Meijer could use its supplier’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions data to calculate Meijer’s Scope 3 Purchased Goods and Services, eliminating the need for USEEIO methodology.
As part of this research report, the team inventoried Meijer’s emissions for the baseline year of 2021. The results are as follows: The total estimated Scope 3 emissions is 19,200,000 Mt CO2e. The three most contributing categories are Purchased Goods (65% of total emissions), Use of Sold Products (24% of total emissions), and Downstream Transportation and Distribution (5% of total emissions) as shown in ES 1. For additional reference, Meijer’s Scope 1 total was 271,770 Mt CO2e and Scope 2 total was 666,417 Mt CO2e (for a combined total of 938,187 Mt CO2e) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021.
In addition to estimating the Scope 3 emissions, the research team highlights a number of factors for future consideration: areas where data availability was limiting, methodology shortcomings particularly given data needs, and challenges with calculating downstream categories where consumer behavior data are not readily available (e.g., within the Downstream Transportation and Distribution Category). These discussions will improve the accuracy of future Meijer Scope 3 inventory calculations.
In Section 5.0 of this report, the research team provides a detailed list of recommendations to lower emissions in each category. The Meijer sustainability team should focus on the highest emitting categories first (i.e., Purchased Goods and Services, Use of Sold Products, and Downstream Transportation and Distribution).
A critical next step will be for Meijer to work closely with its internal stakeholders and suppliers to enact the proposed GHG Scope 3 Action Plan. This partnership with stakeholders and suppliers will enable Meijer to develop strategies towards positive climate action for long-term change. About 95% of Meijer's total estimated emissions are attributed to Scope 3 (based on internal calculations of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emission totals). Therefore, engaging Meijer suppliers will be an effective strategy to reduce the overall carbon footprint. The research team recommends Meijer work collaboratively with suppliers to identify opportunities to reduce emissions. These relationships can lead to new opportunities for emissions reductions and cost savings through the creation of low carbon technologies, products, and strategies.
Brown,Jillian, Erika Kinninger, Rishi Madethatt, Nick Rojas, Swathy Vidyadharan, and Nazli Yazdizadeh. (2023) Meijer Scope 3 Carbon Accounting Framework and Inventory. Master's Project, University of Michigan: Ann Arbor: 1-51. CSS23-04