Sustainability is increasingly becoming a high priority for firms across the country, as many seek to implement strategies to reduce waste, emissions and become more energy-efficient. Not only will this help tackle key global issues but can also present significant cost-savings for businesses, says John Pearce, chief executive of Made In Britain.
In September 2015, the UN outlined 17 specific goals to achieve by 2030, which include an end to poverty and fighting climate change. Firms embracing and positioning themselves within circular economies and those ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns are the most efficient ways in which these goals can be achieved.
The circular economy is a system which encourages individuals and businesses to reduce waste, protect the environment and keep resources in use for as long as possible. The term was first coined in 1989, so while it’s not a new idea, it’s one that is becoming more prevalent for businesses.
The approach has been adopted with particular success by innovative companies across the North West including Ecodek, a carbon-negative company based in Wrexham, which manufactures eco-friendly decking from recycled wood and plastic.
Responsible production and consumption is another key strategy which can help those looking to help combat climate change. This is key as we currently consume far beyond what our planet can sustainably provide in the long term.
The UN Global Goals UK tour travelled across the country throughout 2018, helping businesses to understand how they can contribute to achieving the goals. Its final stop was in Manchester, which was also the most well-attended of the events.
The event was hosted in partnership with Made in Britain as we’ve recently joined forces with the United Nations to support our 1,000-strong directory of British manufacturers as they strive to reduce waste, pollution and do their bit to keep materials in use.
If you’re a manufacturer looking to improve your sustainability efforts and help support the global effort to tackle climate change, there’s plenty of small, achievable things you can do, including:
Thinking outside the box: traditionally, the supply chain has been thought of as a linear, production-consumption-waste model. Instead, we should all rethink this chain as a connected loop, with goods built to last and designed to be easily regenerated when they come to the end of one service ‘life’.
Going back to basics: recycling is still at the heart of the circular economy and responsible consumption and production. Factoring recycled goods into your production line can be both profitable and ethical. More and more businesses are swapping out parts of their products for pre-recycled alternatives. For instance, Safer Surfacing, who attended the UN event in Manchester, use recycled rubber chippings from vehicle tyres and automotive rubber to make safe, weatherproof surfaces for playgrounds and equestrian rings.
Joining forces: global change cannot be achieved in isolation, which is why forging relationships with other manufacturers to allow collaboration is vital. For example, one manufacturer’s waste might be just the material needed for another to make their products. We regularly host events for our members to network and share best practice and knowledge, which is a great way to identify potential partners.
The huge shift we’ve seen in public consciousness towards looking after the environment – The Blue Planet effect – is now a more important part of modern life than ever before and one that, thankfully, seems here to stay.
All firms and manufacturers, from SME level up, should be asking themselves how to make their businesses more sustainable, and how they can help make eco-friendly strategies work for their business in the new year and beyond. For more information about Made in Britain, please visit www.madeinbritain.org.
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