Manufacturers struggle to meet sustainability goals

Posted: 26 January 2021 | | No comments yet

A survey of high-ranking figures in companies around the UK has revealed the majority of firms do have plans in place to become more sustainable, but just over a third have actually achieved any goals.

FDF survey reveals improved food and beverage industry confidence

Thirty-three percent of operators in the manufacturing sector have seen their plans to become more sustainable halted by the pandemic

A YouGov survey of decision makers in small and medium sized companies has revealed that the manufacturing industry is one of the leading sectors in making sustainability plans, though the difficulties of 2020 have made meeting these goals even tougher.   

Reducing the world’s emissions and slowing down climate change has become a top priority for countries around the world. The UK government recently set out its plan for a green industrial revolution to ensure the country reaches its 2050 net zero targets to reduce carbon emissions.

The survey, conducted in partnership with World Kinetic Energy Services,  included managing directors and CEOs from over 12 different UK industries, including hospitality, construction, retail, medical and health, as well as manufacturing.

The study revealed that over half (57 percent) of UK manufacturing businesses have a sustainability plan in place to help reduce carbon emissions, and only 23 percent admitted to not having any future plans to introduce one.

Overall, 40 percent of the 1,021 UK SMEs surveyed do not have a plan in place to become more sustainable, with 30 percent not intending to put a net zero strategy in place at all. However, 53 percent do have a plan in place, and one they are hopeful to hit before the 2050 deadline. Saying this, only 34 percent have actually achieved any goals.

Barriers to sustainability

The study also sought to identify the barriers that could be preventing businesses from making further progress towards hitting sustainability targets, such as implementing energy saving solutions or adopting renewable energy technology.

Budget was cited as the biggest hurdle with almost half (47 percent) of manufacturing businesses saying financial costs are the largest barrier to sustainability/carbon neutrality.

A third (33 percent) of operators in the manufacturing sector have also seen their plans to become more sustainable halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as priorities have shifted, or as a result of closure. 

Commenting on the research findings, Senior Director of Global Sustainability at World Kinect Energy Services, Therese Gjerde, said: “Despite some sectors leading the way to reduce their carbon footprint, such as the manufacturing industry, we are still coming across so many businesses who simply aren’t ready for net zero, which is reflected in this independent research.

“The 2050 deadline for net zero is a lot closer than people think and it can take time to develop a realistic, achievable strategy and even longer to implement it. Organisations must act now and start their sustainability journey by developing a long-term emissions reduction strategy that will benefit their impact on the environment.

“Net zero targets could be brought forward, so ignoring the deadline may lead to penalties or larger pay outs further down the line.”

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