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Sustainability SaaS for manufacturers: A market overview 

When searching for the right tool, it can be difficult to get a clear picture of what they are offering and if they fit what you and your company need. Check our overview to get a better picture.

Are you a sustainability manager and have been allocated the task of finding a solution for Scope 3 reporting and Life Cycle Analysis? Inevitably you will be on Google and see: There are (too) many options. When searching for the right tool, it can be difficult to get a clear picture of what they are offering and if they fit what you and your company need. To make life easier, we prepared a table of the most prominent players in the manufacturing industry and the most used functions in sustainability tools. If you want to enter deeper into the topic, you can scroll down and drop us a message for an in-detail market overview to be sent to you.  

Scope 3 reporting

What it is:

Scope 3 emissions result from assets not owned or controlled by a company. Therefore, scope 3 emissions are a consequence of a company’s activities but occur from sources outside of an organization. Examples of scope 3 activities are purchased materials, products and services, and employee business travel.

Why it is needed:

Reporting on scope 3 allows companies to assess their entire value chain emissions and identify where to focus reduction activities. Research shows that scope 3 emissions represent up to 90% of emissions for most companies. Companies that ignore scope 3 emissions will never reach an actual Net Zero state. The SEC has also taken up on this and discusses making scope 3 reporting mandatory.

Who does what?

Vendors of scope 3 reporting solutions fall into three groups. Consultancies do the reporting manually, while software solutions do scope 3 reporting automatically. Most of the software on the market takes a spend-based approach to scope 3 calculation. That means they’re estimating the emissions by collecting data on the economic value of the purchased goods and services and multiplying it by industry average emission factors. Right now, only Carbmee, Ecochain, and Makersite can do a more accurate scope 3 reporting by joining external emission and product data with a company’s product data.

Learn more about the benefits of scope 3 reporting with Makersite here.

Life Cycle Assessment

What it is:

The life cycle analysis (LCA) of a product is precisely what the name says: A technique that assesses the impact of a product, from the materials used to make it to its ultimate disposal. The LCA method evaluates the environmental impact from extraction and processing of the raw materials to the manufacturing, distribution, use, recycling, and final disposal.

Why it is needed:

Typically, LCAs are used to identify opportunities to decrease the environmental impact of a product by changing aspects of the design or formulation – by looking at the entire value chain from cradle to grave. Still, LCAs were not used heavily in the past because the manual creation required a massive amount of time and effort to be done for one product. Unfortunately, these LCAs also did not enable actionable insights. That means that companies could see the environmental impact over the life cycle of their current product, but not how the LCA and other categories like costing, compliance, and risk would be affected when changing things.

Who does what?

The automation of LCAs changed how businesses approach their products’ sustainability. While traditional LCA software (SimaPro, iPoint) still requires experts to take over core parts of the analysis, others can do a complete LCA modeling, including the product’s supply chain, without needing subject matter experts (Sphera, Makersite). Still, without a Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (see next point), LCAs alone are of limited use to decision makers in procurement and product teams.

Find out more about how Makersite offers complete product LCA across the entire lifecycle with 100% PLM integration here.

Multi Criteria Decision Analysis

What it is:

The Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) evaluates multiple conflicting decision-making criteria. MCDA appears in business as well as in daily life. For producing companies’ examples of measures can be cost, compliance, supply chain risk, sustainability, etc.

Why it is needed:

MCDA is essential for emission reduction. To efficiently save emissions, products must consider sustainability a critical factor when designed. Following this, the departments of product design and procurement are in the driver’s seat to deliver carbon-neutral products and reduce emissions from the supplier base. Yet, they need a multi criteria view on not only sustainability criteria but also cost, compliance, supply chain risk, etc., to make impactful decisions without including experts in every step. Sustainability will only thrive if other product factors don’t lose to it.

Who does what?

The challenge that product designers, procurement, and sustainability managers share is that no tool gives them the whole picture. They need experts in each field of sustainability, cost, risk, etc., to move forward on their topics. MCDA changes this.  It does not only help you understand your emissions and where they are coming from but provides the tools for decision-making. Makersite is currently the only SaaS-sustainability tool that offers MCDA. We are reporting on climate change impacts and across more than 40 other dimensions, e.g., cost, compliance, risk, etc.

Read more on our MCDA and how we use digital twins to enable true ecodesign and sustainable procurement here.

 

*This comparison is researched on the basis of publicly available data and assessments by market experts.

How to find the right software for your needs

The functionalities

When trying to find the right fit for sustainability software for your company, it is essential to determine what you want to use it for. At this step, consider how you want your company to evolve in the coming years and not only the current need for – for example – obligatory Scope 3 reporting. Sustainability software can be an excellent chance for your company to report on your emissions and be more sustainable and, therefore, more relevant in today’s market. Our tip: Ask across departments (sustainability, product engineering, design, procurement) what tools they would need to be more sustainable and write down all the functionalities you could use in your company and its departments.

The maturity

Once you’ve found some companies that fulfill your needs in functionalities, make sure not to forget to look at their maturity. How long have they been on the market?  Can you ask for a reference call with a current customer? How is their team built? Do they have experts in their teams that can help you with specifics? Will you be able to use the tool independently after you got an overview, or will you always need support in using it? These and more questions should be answered so you decide on a tool that is ready to be used and not one which is still in development.

Reports vs. Action

As said in the first bit: Emission reporting is the easy part. Meaningful change can be made once you get actionable insights into your product data and supply chains. Therefore, for every tool, ask yourself: Will this enable actual change, or will this tool give me reports on the current situation? Remember that allowing real change means more than showing possibilities to be more sustainable. It also means that you need to be able to evaluate these possibilities on other levels like cost and risk. This is why our MCDA is so valuable. Change happens in product and procurement-, not expert teams.

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