Third-party services – The elephant in the room

June 28, 2023

Addressing the impact of third-party services is crucial in reducing the carbon footprint of websites.

The carbon footprint of websites is influenced by various factors, including third-party services, which often constitute a significant portion of emissions. However, accurately measuring and assessing the environmental impact of these services remains a challenge due to the lack of verified energy data from providers. In this article, we shed light on the influence of third-party scripts and services on website performance and energy consumption. By reducing the number of third-party scripts and optimising code, websites can minimise processing and energy usage, ultimately reducing carbon emissions. It is essential to address the impact of third-party services, support sustainable web design practices, and work towards improving assessment methodologies.

The Significance of Scope 3 Emissions:

Organisations face difficulties when prioritising Scope 3 emissions, which encompass emissions resulting from supply chains and the utilisation of third-party products and services. These emissions are often beyond an organisation’s direct control, making tracking and reduction challenging. Scope 3 emissions contribute to the majority of an organisation’s total emissions, accounting for over 90% in some cases. Recent developments indicate that addressing Scope 3 emissions may become mandatory for many businesses in the near future. Is your organisation prepared?

Understanding Digital Supply Chains:

In the digital realm, the digital supply chain encompasses the third-party digital products and services utilised for running and managing campaigns, profiles, and online programs. With over 10,000 marketing technology tools and platforms available, it becomes crucial to consider these service providers’ environmental claims, renewable energy commitments, and climate strategies. Unfortunately, such information is often missing or undisclosed on their websites.

Digital technologies contribute to emissions due to energy consumption

The Role of Third-Party Scripts in Carbon Footprint:

Nearly all websites rely on third-party services, with a significant portion of requests being made for these scripts. These scripts perform various website and campaign functions while tracking essential metrics. It is vital to acknowledge that each of these tools contributes to an organisation’s Scope 3 emissions. Examples include third-party analytics tools, advertising networks, content delivery networks (CDNs), social media integrations, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

Strategies to Address Scope 3 Emissions:

To tackle Scope 3 emissions and reduce the carbon footprint of the digital supply chain, organisations can adopt the following strategies:

Prioritise Essential Third-Party Services: Assess the necessity of current third-party tools and eliminate unnecessary services to streamline the website and reduce associated energy consumption.

Optimise Third-Party Scripts: Collaborate with the development team to optimise and minimise the number of scripts and resources loaded from third-party providers. This optimisation can enhance website performance and reduce energy consumption.

Choose Sustainable Service Providers: When selecting new third-party tools or services, consider providers who prioritise the use of renewable energy and other sustainability initiatives.

Measure and Monitor: Implement tools or services to measure and monitor the energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with the website and third-party integrations. This data can guide sustainability efforts and decision-making.

Advocate for Transparency: Encourage third-party service providers to be transparent about their environmental practices and commitments. Support initiatives that promote the disclosure of carbon emissions and renewable energy usage in the digital industry.

The Need for Verified Energy Data and Collaboration:

As environmental sustainability gains more attention, the importance of Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data cannot be overstated. At Eco-Friendly Web Alliance, we understand the significance of this data and actively support efforts towards policy-making and raising awareness in this area. However, the lack of verified energy data from third-party providers presents challenges in accurately assessing the environmental impact of digital products and services. Currently, there is a lack of legal incentives for these providers to disclose such information, making it difficult for businesses to fully understand and address their carbon footprint.

Collaboration within the sustainable web community is crucial in driving progress and finding solutions to the challenges posed by third-party services’ impact and the need for verified energy data. Recent events, such as AWS facing criticism for delays in providing Scope 3 GHG emissions data to enterprises and governments, highlight the complexities that businesses may encounter in the future. These challenges underscore the importance of collective efforts and a shared commitment to addressing the environmental impact of digital services.

As part of the Eco-Friendly Web Alliance’s free website audit, website owners are encouraged to address not only their estimated carbon footprint but multiples of it, through insetting measures or by undertaking high-integrity nature or community projects, which may also help address third-party service carbon footprints. It is crucial to avoid inaction and take accountability for our carbon footprint.

Addressing the impact of third-party services is crucial in reducing the carbon footprint of websites. By implementing strategies to minimise energy usage, organisations can contribute to a more sustainable digital supply chain. While challenges exist, every action counts in the fight against climate change. By supporting transparency, promoting sustainable practices, and advocating for verified energy data, we can create a more environmentally responsible approach to digital marketing technology. By taking that first step towards sustainability, we can contribute to a greener web and a better future for all.


We acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of Mightybytes and Tim Frick, whose insights, including excerpts from their article on Scope 3 emissions in the digital supply chain, have been instrumental in shaping this article.