Tech

Sweep helps track carbon emissions across enterprise supply chains

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Despite banks’ net-zero carbon pledges, a recent survey carried out by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) found that nearly half of global banks had not conducted any analysis of the climate impact within their investment portfolios. But with growing pressure from all corners of society, it’s clear that the financial powerhouses of the world can’t ignore the world’s plight to curtail climate change — last year BlackRock even said that sustainability was its “new standard for investing.”

Even with the best will in the world, though, words don’t necessarily translate into meaningful action. Managing and accounting for emissions is a complex process, particularly within major global enterprises with vast supply chains and partner networks — these so-called “scope 3 emissions” are tricky to track. And that is where Sweep is setting out to help, a French startup that launched into public beta this week with $5 million in funding to help reduce the inherent complexities of capturing carbon emissions data across an enterprise’s entire value chain, spanning internal operations and external partners.

Clean sweep

Founded out of Montpellier in 2020, Sweep is the brainchild of Rachel Delacour and Nicolas Raspal, who previously launched a business intelligence startup called Bime Analytics which they sold to customer service software giant Zendesk in 2015.

Any enterprise looking to launch an emissions program would typically follow four basic steps, according to Sweep cofounder and CEO Rachel Delacour: measure their emissions; reduce their emissions; contribute to carbon projects; and communicate their actions. In terms of measuring, businesses currently use any combination of consulting services, spreadsheets, and business intelligence tools. And the bigger that company is, the more difficult it is to keep an accurate record of all its emissions across the board.

“Determining a comprehensive and precise footprint in the most simple organization is already hard,” Delacour told VentureBeat. “In a relatively complex, multi-site, multi-product or business unit enterprise, it is a serious undertaking. With existing tools, these companies need to juggle Excel sheets aggregation, no approval workflows, bare-bones emission factors, and no real auditability.”

Sweep enables businesses to measure emissions continuously, giving everyone in the company and supply chain access to the data to understand what changes need to happen. It also allows companies to set targets, including individual or team-wide goals which serves to gamify the process through friendly competition. Externally, Sweep also offers granular controls in terms of who can access what information across their subsidiaries or partners, which is crucial for protecting other sensitive data.

Some of the common data types that Sweep processes include things like land use, electricity generation, travel, material transportation, and so on.

Sweep: Data types in the Sweep system

Above: Sweep: Data types in the Sweep system

Sweep offers APIs that companies can connect with any system, service, or database with just a couple of lines of code, affording them the flexibility to funnel in data from just about anywhere. Sweep is also working on pre-built integrations for specific services, such as travel booking software and other SaaS tools, though these are not available yet.

There has been efforts elsewhere to modernize the carbon accounting and tracking process, with the likes of fledgling Israeli startup Persefoni recently raising $9.7 million in funding. While Sweep may not be alone in its endeavors, Delacour is hopeful that its user-friendliness will help it win the hearts and minds of corporations across all sectors.

“Making real change in a big company requires teamwork, which is why Sweep is all about collaboration, sharing data, approvals, and so on,” Delacour said. “We realized that a good carbon tool needs to be usable by as many people as possible, collaborating on analysis and climate action. And so we built it.”

Scope of coverage

It’s important not to underestimate the significance of scope 3 emissions in any carbon accounting process. Many businesses may tightly control their own internal emissions, but further down the line contribute to significant carbon output due to the suppliers they use. Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), a bottling partner for Coca-Cola, has estimated that 93% of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2019 were scope 3.

Above: CCEP: GHG Emissions

And that, ultimately, is what Sweep is setting out to solve. Sweep can connect climate data across companies, allowing all parties in a supply chain to collaborate. “This is the only way companies can seriously tackle their indirect scope 3 emissions,” Delacour added. “Companies cannot truly claim ‘net zero’ emissions status unless they have tackled their scope 3 emissions, given that their scope 3 emissions come from their suppliers, customers, and entire value chain.”

Sweep also offers a curated marketplace for carbon offsetting projects, which in turn Sweep helps map back to the company’s emissions. “If companies want to buy negative carbon on their Scope 1 and 2 emissions with Sweep, it can be done with literally one click of a button.”

Above: Sweep: A catalog of curated carbon offsetting projects

It’s still reasonably early days for Sweep, but the problem it’s seeking to tackle is one that impacts businesses of all sizes across every industry. As public and governmental pressure mounts, companies will have to not only measure their carbon footprint, but demonstrably show that they are reducing it, something that Sweep can help illustrate with its myriad reporting features.

Above: Sweep: Reducing carbon emissions

This also includes “investor-grade” reports that can be set to automatically publish” in line with the latest carbon accounting standards.”

According to Delacour, Sweep currently has “very significant projects underway” with two large global manufactures and a telecom company, though the only business it was at liberty to divulge was sustainable clothing company Picture Organic Clothing.

“We’ve seen that a lot of companies want to do good, and just need the proper tools to make it happen — which is where Sweep comes in,” Delacour said.

In terms of pricing, Sweep operates a SaaS subscription business model, ranging from $254 per month for smaller teams through to bespoke pricing plans for enterprises.

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