The grey areas of green

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 by The Manufacturer

UK manufacturers are taking the environment more seriously but two thirds do not plan to assess the ‘green’ effect in product lifecycle planning.

Investment in environmental strategies and resource efficiency grew last year, with 83% of companies believing such actions led to cost saving, according to the survey by EEF. Cost saving was the main target for four out of five the survey’s respondents.

Around 300 manufacturing companies took part. The research showed how UK companies are making resource efficiency — and lean practices in general — and environmental policies a bigger part of their business culture.

Gareth Stace, head of climate and environment policy at EEF, explained: “Businesses are now increasingly aware of the benefits that can be reaped by adopting an environmental agenda. In many cases manufacturers realise that resource efficiency can help keep an organisation profitable.”

Despite a growing interest, the survey emphasised the still low take-up of eco-design, an approach that focuses on reducing the environmental impact of products through their whole lifecycle. This strategy represents a £75bn global market which two-thirds of the manufacturers sampled say they don’t plan to explore (67% said that impact on cash flow or profit was a barrier to environmental performance).

This is the area where the Government can help companies, said Stace. “Businesses, especially SMEs, need further support to implement improvement strategies. There is a clear role for government here in making business aware of easily attainable ‘quick wins’ as well as those areas that require investment such as Eco-Design.”

Roberto Priolo