Carbon pollution

Government plans to unveil mandatory Scope 3 reporting for all major companies look almost certain to be postponed until after the general election, The Grocer has learned. Talks on the data and reporting mechanisms to be used have become bogged down in disagreement over the quality of data to underpin the system.

Defra had been planning to announce plans for all big food and drink companies to report on supply chain emissions, ahead of the COP28 conference in Dubai next month.

However, the government’s Food Data Transparency Partnership (FDTP) is understood to have been struggling to secure consensus on both the data to be used and separate plans for new environmental labels to be launched on the back of the reporting to help drive consumers towards products with a lower carbon footprint.

The latest talks came last week when representatives from leading food and drink companies met to try to thrash out proposals for a system that could be agreed on.

But while further talks have been arranged for next month, ahead of the COP event, it is believed to be now highly unlikely a system will be ready to announce. Sources said it could be late 2024 at the earliest.

“I think it’s increasingly difficult to see this happening this side of the general election,” said one source involved in the talks.

The FDTP has planned to require all large companies to report Scope 3 emissions, but there has been fierce debate over the quality of existing data and whether it would allow a level playing field.

The meeting also saw Defra present draft proposals for a government-backed system of environmental labelling, which has been drawn up with input from IGD and Wrap.

The FDTP is hoping it can help end consumer confusion over green claims, with at least eight rival eco-labelling schemes already in existence and more than 600 global standards from greenhouse gas missions, leading to a lack of joined-up action and understanding.

However, the source added: “The problem we have is that the data as it stands is in danger of not standing up to scrutiny.

“To have mandatory reporting for all the major companies and to have a system of labelling everyone can agree on, the data has to pass that test.”

The FDTP was launched in February in response to calls for transparent data on key environmental and health issues in Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy, published in 2019.

The talks come following recent backtracks by prime minister Rishi Sunak on major elements of the government’s net zero policies, amid fears that the industry and the UK as a whole are in grave danger of missing their 2030 carbon reduction goals.