Green House Gases of the Retail Sector

Retailers generate Green House Gases (GHG) emissions from various sources, including the production and transportation of goods, energy use in stores and warehouses, and waste management. This toolkit aims to help you understand how your business can reduce your emissions and influence positive industry-wide change.

What Are GHG Emissions?

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are naturally present in the Earth’s atmosphere and are essential for a stable climate. However, human activities such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and agriculture can lead to an increase in their concentration, resulting in global warming. This can have serious consequences for both the environment and human health, including more frequent and intense weather events, rising sea levels, and an increase in heat-related illnesses.

Taking action to reduce GHG emissions is an important step to help lessen the effects of global warming.

GHG Emissions Across the Value Chain

The Three Scopes of GHG Emissions

The GHG Protocol Corporate Standard defines three types of GHG emissions:

  • Scope 1: onsite emissions from company facilities and transportation
  • Scope 2: offsite emissions from energy purchased from utilities
  • Scope 3: other offsite emissions from waste disposal, product use, business travel, etc.

Many retailers choose to tackle Scope 1 and 2 before gradually pulling in elements of Scope 3.

Image Source: OneTrust

Direct Emissions vs Indirect Emissions

Direct: The reporting company owns or controls the sources of these greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)

Scope 1: emissions refer to greenhouse gas emissions that originate from sources owned or directly controlled by an organization. Examples include burning fossil fuels on-site or in a company fleet.

Indirect: These emissions are caused by the reporting company but another entity owns or controls these GHG emissions.

Scope 2: GHG emissions are those caused indirectly by a company through the consumption of purchased energy, such as electricity, heating, or cooling for operational purposes or to power an electric fleet.

Scope 3: emissions are GHG emissions that a company causes indirectly, but are not related to energy. Examples include purchased materials, business travel, product distribution, and end-of-life treatment


Image Source: Greenhouse Gas Protocol,

GHG emissions in the retail sector

How the Retail Sector Can Reduce Greenhouse Emissions

Production, transportation, and distribution of goods can all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, heating and lighting used in store operations can also add to this.

The retail sector can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in several ways:

  • Optimize production processes to reduce emissions from the manufacture of goods.
  • Increase the efficiency of transportation to reduce emissions from the movement of goods.
  • Streamline distribution networks to reduce emissions from the delivery of goods.
  • Increase the efficiency of store heating and lighting systems.
  • Reduce the amount of energy used to power store operations.
  • Utilize renewable energy sources to power store operations.
  • Invest in energy-efficient technologies.

Businesses should be aware of their carbon footprint to identify potential climate risks and opportunities.

For more information on GHG Emissions, click the links below.

Additional Ways to Reduce GHG Emissions

Invest in Carbon Offset Projects: Retailers can invest in Carbon Offset Projects, such as reforestation or clean energy projects, to reduce their GHG emissions or remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Purchase Carbon Credits: Companies can offset their GHG emissions by purchasing Carbon Credits from projects that have reduced GHG emissions.

Implement Energy Efficiency Measures: Retailers can reduce their GHG emissions by implementing energy efficiency measures in their stores and distribution centers, such as upgrading to energy-efficient lighting and appliances, sealing windows and doors to reduce heating and cooling losses, and optimizing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

Use Renewable Energy: To reduce their GHG emissions, retailers can switch to renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power.

Partner with Suppliers: Retailers can work with their suppliers to reduce GHG emissions in the production and transportation of goods, including using more fuel-efficient vehicles, implementing energy efficiency measures in production facilities, and sourcing raw materials from sustainable sources.

GHG emissions in the retail sector

GHG Through Transportation

Transportation is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with vehicles releasing primarily carbon dioxide into the atmosphere due to burning fossil fuels. Transportation is a major source of GHG emissions, and the growing number of vehicles on the road contributes to the rise.

The transportation sector can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in several ways:

  • Use more fuel-efficient vehicles: Choosing vehicles that consume less fuel can significantly reduce GHG emissions from transportation.
  • Use alternative modes of transportation: Public transit, walking, or cycling instead of driving can greatly reduce GHG emissions.
  • Promote the use of electric and hybrid vehicles: Electric and hybrid vehicles produce fewer GHGs than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. Encouraging the use of these vehicles can help reduce GHG emissions.
  • Implement fuel-efficient driving practices: Simple changes in driving habits, such as gentle acceleration and braking, can improve a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and reduce GHG emissions.
  • Reduce the number of miles traveled by vehicles: Encouraging telecommuting and using mass transit can reduce the number of miles traveled by vehicles, which in turn reduces GHG emissions.

Other Resources

This project has been funded by Alberta Ecotrust Foundation