The Manufacturer Podcast: Sustainability Series, Episode 4

Posted on 11 Feb 2022 by Tom St John

Our Director at The Manufacturer, Henry Anson, joins Multimedia Editor Tom, and Magazine Editor Joe, as they discuss the current, much changed views of board level manufacturers around the topic of sustainability.

Sit back and enjoy, listener


Henry gives us some insight in to the greatly evolved landscape of sustainable practice, and shares his views on what needs to continue.

The big issues?

HA: From the Virtual Round Tables that we run, there are clearly three big issues this year that are dominating the agenda. There’s no doubt about it, the supply chain integrity and resilience is the number one concern at the moment. Sustainability is very much a big board level agenda, it’s the case with every single manufacturer that I speak to. And then obviously, there’s that bigger piece around digital transformation. All of these are very linked, clearly.

How have attitudes changed towards sustainability?

HA: It used to just be lip service and a CSR tick box exercise largely. Then in late 2019, I was sitting down my colleague, and we were trying to predict what the major themes for 2020 would be. We noticed a lot more serious dialogue around the whole sustainability issue. Our pick for 2020 ended up being sustainability. A rather irritating virus interrupted that.

Obviously, 2020 was about getting through and survival in some cases, but at the beginning of last year, we saw a real focus on it. COP26 sharpened that lens, it’s still gathering pace and certainly not going away.

Is sustainability now embedded in to manufacturing?

HA: It’s going on that journey, it’s not there yet. I was talking to a Scottish manufacturer just before Christmas, and she was saying they’re treating it in the same way you would treat health and safety. If staff come into a factory in the morning, the first thing to think about is health and safety. They’re trying to embed sustainability into that sort of thought process. Everyone is thinking about it the whole time. That’s a cultural and behavioural change which takes time to embed but it’s definitely where companies need to get to.

A global effort

HA: I can’t remember quite what the percentage of global carbon output is from the UK, but it’s not a great deal. We’ve got to have buy in from the emerging economies and they must be able to afford the technology that I suspect the Western world will come up with. This is not a country by country or person by person processes, it has got to be a global effort.

Listen back to the previous episode of this sustainability series