Final Word: Moving towards net zero

FWD’s project to understand and reduce the environmental footprint of wholesalers has completed its first stage: an analysis of the emissions of members

What have we learned so far?

The companies taking part in the initial survey revealed that vehicle fuel and refrigerant leaks were their biggest sources of emissions. They calculated that nearly 65% of their Scope 1 emissions (those they are directly responsible for) came from delivery fleets, and a further 10% from refrigerants used in chilled and frozen storage, which accounts for a quarter of their storage space. Wholesalers with larger frozen capacity reported higher emissions, as well as higher use of building fuels.

What about indirect emissions?

While the larger wholesalers surveyed said they had calculated some or all of their Scope 3 emissions – that’s supply chain emissions that occur upstream and downstream – more than half do not calculate Scope 3 emissions and are not yet planning to start.

Implementing and tracking reductions across thousands of lines of products requires significant financial resource and internal capacity, so most smaller wholesalers are going to need guidance and support to deliver Scope 3 reductions.

So how do we help them do this?

The FWD project, in association with sustainability consultant 3Keel, aims to create a calculator to help these smaller wholesalers measure their emissions and their progress towards the sector’s target of being net zero by 2040. The plan is to produce a roadmap to help them on their journey.

What kind of things can be done?

You’ll have to wait until the FWD conference in June for the full report, but recommendations will include replacing higher-impact vehicles with more sustainable ones, adopting lower-impact refrigerants and exploring renewable energy sources. We’re to some extent in the hands of technology here because the target being set relies on advances that are not yet mainstream, or may not even have been trialled yet. We’re also looking to the government to help fund implementation of these measures, which is the way to ensure the 2040 target is achievable.

3Keel emissions Environment FWD net zero sustainability vehicles