Starting 2025, businesses in Europe will be required to disclose information pertaining to carbon footprint in the processes and supply chain, advancing the EU’s aim to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The European Commission introduced the European Green Deal, a package of policy initiatives, in December 2019.

However, these initiatives have added to the workload and complexity of businesses, especially print establishments, as per Christoph Migotsch, Sustainability Manager and Head of Maintenance and Procurement at SV Zeitungsdruck GmbH.

Migotsch joined WAN-IFRA’s recent World Printers Summit in Frankfurt, to share insights on how their newspaper printing plant is documenting carbon emissions in its processes and supply chains.

Süddeutscher Verlag Zeitungsdruck is a printing plant affiliated with Süddeutsche Zeitung, a newspaper published in Munich. Additionally, the plant prints other popular Nordic-format dailies such as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Bild, Welt, and Handelsblatt.

See also: Meeting sustainability targets with CO2 footprint calculation

Non-financial reporting to shape business sustainability standards

Non-financial reporting, also called ESG (environment, social, and governance) reporting, will be mandatory for businesses starting 2025, said Migotsch. About 250 global standards dictate the process of non-financial reporting.

Non-financial reporting aims to rate companies based on their emissions and risks originating from them, he said. If a business has high CO2 emissions, it will suffer financial risks such as:

High interest rates for loans
Loss of value of the company
Hidden costs in materials
Costs for offsetting emissions
Restricted cooperation with partners
Loss of reputation

Identify risks to reduce carbon footprint

To identify risks, the company classified its emissions into three categories.

Scope 1: This category comprises emissions from the printing site. In this case, the company has full control over the emissions, which can be calculated and minimised easily.

Scope 2: Energy used for production and emissions will be based on the energy used. In this case as well, the company has full control on its emissions.

Scope 3 (1): Here, a chunk of the emissions come from all incoming goods and services you buy for the company. Conversations with suppliers and customers will help find a strategy to reduce emissions arising from the supply chain. This means a collaborative effort is necessary to calculate and minimise emissions.

Scope 3 (2): This includes emissions originating from waste, traveling and commuting.

Strategies to collect CO2 footprint data

“To reduce emissions, you must first determine the amount of emissions in your company,” Migotsch said.

He shared an approach devised by SV Zeitungsdruck to calculate its corporate carbon footprint based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG):

Structure data collection according to GHG protocol
Ask suppliers for reliable figures and their method of data collection
Get accurate figures of emissions
Make plausible assumptions when no reliable figures are available
Give comprehensive reasons for assumptions
Remain annoying and petty in collecting data – internal and external

“It’s not easy, but it’s necessary,” Migotsch said. “We began the process in 2020 by balancing our emissions in the printing plant.”

“We had estimations of internal data, such as distance and transport routes of raw materials, business trips, commuting, power consumed in home-working environment, and quantities of waste and recyclables,” he said.

The company also had to make assumptions of CO2 conversion factors such as paper, printing ink and plates, operating and auxiliary materials, packaging materials, workstations, spare parts, and services.

This method helped the company improve its data quality and reliability over the years.

“Initially, we had only estimations and assumptions, but after numerous conversations with our suppliers and extensive research, we acquired much better data in 2022 – more resilient and precise,” he added.

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