Wylde Words

Sustainable Business:

Seven paths to Net Zero

Enough of the doom and gloom, let’s take a moment to appreciate the incredible timing of the chaos we presently find ourselves in! Few events in recent history have affected our lives or businesses the way this pandemic has. Of course, most of these are incredibly negative, but there is a very distinct positive opportunity that has arisen.

Tackling climate change and the worldwide pursuit of Net Zero might not currently be at the top of your agenda, but it should be. Manufacturing accounts for 60% of the UK’s industrial emissions and is one of the most energy-intensive industries in the country.

This quote from The Lorax, by Dr Zeuss, summarises our current predicament perfectly: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”

Having thrown everything into chaos, the pandemic has given us all a time to revaluate and decide what is important. This comes at a critical time, as action on climate change approaches the ‘now or never’ point.

With Japan and South Korea recently pledging Net Zero by 2050 and the industrial powerhouse China doing the same for 2060, there is significant momentum building. The UK’s own Net Zero 2050 commitment, adopted in mid-2019, has already spurred many industries into action.

You may look at improving your company’s sustainability as an expensive exercise, an activity for tomorrow – a more predictable and stable time. In some ways you might be right, but did you know that sustainability can also be profitable?

Using the current climate to pivot and develop business goals with sustainability in mind can have a significant positive impact. MIT Sloan Management Review found that companies who focus on material issues were able to increase profit from sustainable activities by 50 per cent. Likewise, incorporating sustainability into business units doubled an organizations chance of profiting from sustainable activities.

There is another aspect that has not yet been mentioned – it may be taken completely out of your hands. Growing consumer pressure and government efforts are forcing OEMs and Tier 1s to consider their environmental responsibilities. In turn, they will drive the supply chain agenda on sustainability and compliance. Fail to move with the current and you might find yourself battling to maintain contracts with customers that have a green ambition.

The path to Net Zero can take many forms, it will not be the same for every business. That being said, there are seven essential ways to ascend ‘mount sustainability’:

  1. Zero waste
  2. Benign emissions
  3. Renewable energy
  4. Closing the loop
  5. Resource-efficient transportation
  6. Sensitivity hookup
  7. Redesign commerce

As a manufacturer, those first four are the most viable pathways. Cutting waste may be impossible for your business, but there are almost certainly significant improvements you can make to eliminate wasted material or energy. Cutting your emissions and implementing renewables are other pathways, whether that means covering your roof with solar panels or upgrading to more efficient equipment.

In a recent report by edie, 85% of surveyed manufacturers either ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that the green recovery presents an opportunity to accelerate climate action, but only 34% of sustainability professionals confirmed that their organisation had taken the opportunity to implement a plan toward a green recovery.

This is unfortunate, as there is a clear opportunity here. A recent report from the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) concluded that steering businesses towards greener manufacturing methods could add £8bn to the UK’s GDP and provide 400,000-1,000,000 jobs!

Unless your business is struggling to stay afloat, the time for action and innovation on sustainability is now. Use this opportunity to pivot toward a green recovery, or risk being left behind.

If you would like to discuss how your business can improve its sustainability, click here or get in touch with us: 01926 754061 or [email protected].

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