In 2021, Illumina completed its first Scope 3 assessment. A Scope 3 assessment looks at the indirect emissions associated with a company’s activities, including supply chain, product end-use, employees, etc. While Scope 3 assessments have been around since the early days of greenhouse gas emission issues, they are becoming more prevalent following the new SEC climate disclosure proposal. We spoke with Sharon Vidal, Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, to learn more from Illumina about how and why they undertook this assessment last year.
What made Illumina decide to do a Scope 3 assessment (considering it’s still voluntary)? Why was including Scope 3 an essential part of your ESG strategy?
When we initiated our formal CSR program and conducted our first materiality assessment, we identified that environmental sustainability would be an integral element. We created a long-term roadmap to further integrate sustainability into our business. We initially focused on our direct impact and established targets related to emissions, energy, water, and waste at our main sites. We also created foundations for applying design for the environment in our product development. We also initiated expectations for our strategic suppliers to embark on similar environmental impact reduction efforts. We recognized that our holistic environmental footprint extended well beyond our walls, and to create targets or identify opportunities, we knew that we would require robust data to guide us. We launched our Scope 3 assessment to make a full emission impact review of our entire value chain and create an updated climate action plan using those insights.
The other driving factor for the Scope 3 assessment was our desire to have our Scope 1 and 2 science-based targets validated by a third party to demonstrate to our stakeholders a credible, science-based, validated, and transparent approach to our climate action plans. To obtain that validation, we needed the full picture of our emission footprint across Scopes 1,2 and 3.
What did you include in your Scope 3 assessment?
We assessed all 15 categories and included relevant categories in our value chain. Using 2019 as our baseline, the results revealed that 87% of our global emissions are attributable to elements in our value chain. Of the fifteen categories assessed, we selected the most material categories contributing to our emission inventory. Categories representing 7% or more were defined as material and accounted for 92% of our total Scope 3 footprint. These material categories will be the focus of our reduction efforts:
- Purchased goods and services
- Upstream transportation and distribution of Capital goods
- Business travel
- Employee commuting
Does Illumina have any goals or targets connected to Scope 3?
We have established a long-term goal to achieve Net Zero by 2050 across our value chain and an associated mid-term of 46% emission reduction in our value chain by 2030. These targets have been successfully validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
How did you approach collecting employee data related to Scope 3?
As with many of our CSR efforts, it requires strong collaboration across many internal functions. We leveraged data from our human resources and travel systems and surveyed employees.
What lessons have you learned in completing this assessment? Any best practices/tips to share with companies looking to complete an assessment?
There is tremendous power in the data that came out of our Scope 3 assessment. Having the visibility to know exactly where we should focus our efforts to maximize our impact has been invaluable to garnishing support and tailoring our projects’ direction.
To those companies considering starting this process, engage your key stakeholders early and throughout the process. We found it was not only an opportunity to guide the data collection requirements but also an educational tool to connect them to climate accounting principles and how they linked to our environmental commitments.