Climate change is a leading concern for the British public. A recent YouGov poll found the environment is the third most important issue in the UK, ahead of both crime and the economy.
This statistic underscores calls from the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) for the UK to go green. Not only would this help protect our planet for future generations, but the MTA estimates a green revolution would also create up to a million jobs for the British manufacturing industry.
But what does going green mean for manufacturing businesses? Here's what you need to know:
Why should we care about climate change?
Our planet is currently experiencing changes that are unlike anything we have seen before. Rising temperatures are responsible for the adverse weather events we're presently experiencing, such as the recent bush fires in Australia. There are also several species of wildlife under threat because of global warming. For example, polar bears are incredibly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The ice caps are melting, making it difficult for polar bears to find food and suitable places to breed.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), irreversible damage will happen when global warming reaches 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Experts predict we only have 11 years left to prevent this irreparable damage. If we don't act now, it may be too late to stop it. The manufacturing industry is responsible for up to 30% of emissions, which means we can play a pivotal role in the green revolution.
The impact of climate change on the manufacturing industry
There are several ways climate change impacts the manufacturing industry — and this impact increases every day.
Consumers are increasingly demanding products that are kinder to the environment. Sales of eco-friendly products are rising, with John Lewis reporting a surge in demand for reusable straws and water bottles.
Despite these new opportunities, climate change can also have negative implications for the manufacturing industry. As consumers begin to consider the environment when purchasing, manufacturers that ignore this demand risk losing profits.
Furthermore, The Paris Agreement means the UK must reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This international agreement means change is inevitable, and the manufacturing industry must respond now to help achieve the target.
"Going green is not an option, it a necessity. The UK has a worldwide reputation for innovation within manufacturing and engineering. This report highlights the need to invest to make to the essential transition to a decarbonised economy."Speaking about the MTA report, James Selka explains what these impacts mean for the manufacturing industry:
How does going green benefit manufacturing businesses?
The urgency of the climate emergency aside, going green provides a range of benefits to manufacturing businesses. These include:
- Reducing overheads
Energy is expensive. Implementing changes to minimise energy and water consumption is not only good for the environment, but it's good for profits, too. Manufacturers can also save money by recycling and going paperless — all contributing to a reduction in emissions.
- Appeal to consumers
The environment drives purchasing decisions — a trend evident in the latest retail reports. This trend will continue to rise as climate change becomes an even more pressing concern. Green policies will make you more appealing to this emerging demographic.
- Boost employee morale
Consumers aren't the only people who care about the environment. Your employees — who are also members of the general public — care, too. Going green will help them feel like they're part of the solution, boosting morale and productivity.
- Government incentives
The net-zero by 2050 target, defined by the Paris Agreement, is written into UK law. There are already incentives and tax reliefs available for businesses that don't use much energy. We will likely see more incentives like this as we progress towards our target. Making changes now will put you ahead of the curve, ready to benefit from any future government schemes.
Three simple changes you can make to become greener
Are you ready to become a more sustainable manufacturer? The good news is that going green doesn't have to be complicated. Martin Thomas, European Marketing Manager at Radwell said “There are many simple changes you can make right away. Here are three of them:
- Reduce waste
Sending items to landfill is one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gases. Recycling is more eco-friendly — but reducing the amount of waste you produce is an even better option. Consider each purchase carefully to minimise waste. Going paperless is a great way to get started, eliminating the need to purchase both paper and printing supplies (which tend to end up in landfill).
- Change your energy supplier
There are now several British energy suppliers committed to providing renewable energy. Some of these new suppliers offer 100% renewable electricity, using wind, solar, and water to power your operations. You could also consider installing solar panels on-site to reduce your impact further.
- Educate your employees
Your employees have a crucial role to play in reducing your emissions. Ensure you communicate your commitment to going green with your staff. Highlight what this means for their day-to-day activities and create policies and procedures for them to follow.
The British manufacturing industry led the way in the industrial revolutions of the past — and they can do the same for the green industrial revolution. The future of our planet depends on it.”