Net zero: what gets measured, gets managed. By Mark Lewis, procurement manager – capex and sustainability, Tarmac 

June 7, 2023

It’s an old cliché: “What gets measured, gets managed.” Yet in the transition to net zero, this adage from the 1950s is highly relevant to understanding carbon emissions data for all companies and their supply chains today.    

In business, measurement and data gives you the information you need to make informed decisions and ensure you achieve what you set out to do. But the data we need in a collaborative and complex industry like construction is often held by supply chain partners.   

Tarmac has set a clear objective to be a net zero business, but we cannot deliver this in isolation from customers and suppliers. Success will require continued behavioural, operational, technological and data-led changes to our business.    

Our targets are based on reducing Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 CO2 emissions: Scope 1 are direct CO2 emissions from the sources we own or control — like the fuels used in our operations and vehicles. Scope 2 covers CO2 emissions like the electricity we buy.  

We are also proactively working with our supply chain to understand our Scope 3 emissions, the indirect emissions that we are responsible for up and down the value chain.  This includes how we work together to reduce CO2 across the whole life cycle, from the materials, goods and services we purchase, from our operations and transport, and right through to the construction process, in-use performance and end-of-life. 

The reality is that Scope 3 emissions are not easily ring fenced and are also much more difficult to track accurately. With Scope 1 and 2 emissions, a company typically has the source data needed to convert direct purchases of gas and electricity into a value in tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs).  

For many manufacturing businesses, Scope 3 emissions account for a large percentage of their carbon footprint. That’s why we are taking early action together with suppliers to understand how we can work collaboratively to understand and ultimately reduce Scope 3 emissions.   

The willingness of suppliers to support and share Scope 3 emissions data is often predicated on their own net zero ambitions, a buyer’s influence and the opportunity to unlock mutually beneficial low carbon solutions.  A challenge is that there are a number of ways to collect and analyse GHG emission data and approaches can vary from company to company.  

We are working with our suppliers as part of the Tarmac decarbonisation club, which now comprises 15 suppliers actively working on the net zero transition to develop practical and deliverable solutions that can be implemented across construction and infrastructure projects. 

The response from many of our suppliers has been very positive and many within Tarmac’s decarbonisation club are working with us to share data and actively identify opportunities to tackle Scope 3.   

Our ultimate aim is to engage our entire supply base across all procurement categories to better understand how together we can take action to reduce Scope 3. 

Enlighted procurement is key to this; it’s about creating a high-performing supply chain, fostering a great customer and supplier dynamic, as well as understanding current emissions baselines and sharing ideas and insight.   

The journey to tackling Scope 3 is undoubtedly challenging. But together with our supply chain we are making progress which will enhance transparency and traceability. In the long term it will reduce emissions for both Tarmac and our suppliers.