Manufacturers report that environmental innovation reduces costs

Manufacturers who put environmental improvements at the heart of their businesses are reaping wide-spread cost-savings, according to a new survey released today which shows industry is stepping up to the sustainability challenge.

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Businesses are starting to look past the immediate cost saving drivers towards sustainability for the long term.

Make UK’s survey – Manufacturing: stepping up to the sustainability challenge –  takes the temperature of sustainability progress in manufacturing and shows that despite challenges both at home and abroad, 50% of industrial businesses are making headway with their sustainability programmes.

Unsurprisingly, the main drivers towards sustainability remain cost savings. In fact, 71% of those who implemented environmentally friendly processes have seen a reduction in their costs.

Energy saving is the most typical first step for businesses to take because the cost efficiencies are easily quantifiable. Strategies put in place include onsite battery storage, installation of onsite renewable heat systems and onsite renewable power generation.

Replacing outdated equipment is also delivering energy cost-saving benefits, along with working towards voluntary standards such as ISO 14001 and introducing high-level international standards.

Nearly a fifth of those surveyed said they were going further by implementing more innovative energy efficiency projects such as demand side response management at peak times. Again, onsite battery storage to store excess energy and onsite renewables generation are widely being utilised.

Additionally, businesses are starting to look past the immediate cost saving drivers towards sustainability for the long term. Investor confidence and attracting the brightest and the best could be a significant step towards ensuring the most innovative systems are developed going forward.

The businesses which were most successful in driving sustainability and environmental improvements and cost-savings adopted a boardroom to shop-floor approach to promoting change, ensuring they took the whole of the workforce with them on the sustainability journey.

The UK’s decision to leave the EU has significant ramifications for environmental policy, which has largely been driven and overseen by the EU. A new framework is currently being developed to manage England’s environment. Scotland and Wales have their own plans.

For manufacturers, the future governance process can seem abstract, but it will set the boundaries within which they will be expected to operate long into the future.