Glossary

End-of-life treatment of sold products emissions (Scope 3 Category 12)

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Summary
End-of-life treatment of sold products emissions (Scope 3, Category 12) refers to the greenhouse gases released when products are disposed of or recycled after they are no longer usable.

End-of-life treatment of sold products emissions, defined as Scope 3 Category 12 in the GHG Protocol, encompass the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the disposal and recycling of a company's sold products once they have reached the end of their useful life

This category addresses emissions from activities such as waste processing, landfill operations, incineration, and the recycling process itself. It is particularly relevant for products that generate significant waste, such as electronics, plastics, and vehicles, where disposal processes can lead to substantial GHG emissions.

End-of-life treatment of sold products emissions, defined as Scope 3 Category 12 in the GHG Protocol, encompass the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the disposal and recycling of a company's sold products once they have reached the end of their useful life. 

This category addresses emissions from activities such as waste processing, landfill operations, incineration, and the recycling process itself. It is particularly relevant for products that generate significant waste, such as electronics, plastics, and vehicles, where disposal processes can lead to substantial GHG emissions.

Key elements of this category include:

  1. Waste disposal methods: Different disposal methods emit varying amounts of GHGs. For example, landfilling might generate methane, a potent GHG. In contrast, incineration might emit carbon dioxide and offer energy recovery opportunities that could displace fossil fuel consumption.
  2. Recycling processes: Emissions from the energy used in recycling processes or emissions are avoided by recycling materials that replace virgin materials. For instance, recycling aluminium saves approximately 95% of the energy required to make the same amount from raw materials, significantly reducing GHG emissions.
  3. Geographical variations: Emissions factors can vary by region depending on the prevalent waste management practices, regulatory frameworks, and technology used in waste processing facilities.
  4. Product lifespan and composition: The materials making up a product and the complexity of disassembling and processing these materials at the end of the product's life affect the total emissions calculated.

This category does not include emissions from the manufacturing or use phases of the product lifecycle, focusing solely on the disposal, treatment, and recycling stages.

To go further, read our whitepaper on sustainability trends for 2024.

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