Three steps for manufacturing to reach net zero

27 April 2023

A manufacturer has warned that the pace of energy efficiency in the UK’s manufacturing “has begun to slow” and said firms need to take action now to meet net zero targets. 

Manufacturer CP Cases founder and MD Peter Ross said: “While structural changes and improved energy efficiency in the UK’s manufacturing sector have helped to halve industry emissions since 1990, the pace has begun to slow.” 

The manufacturing and refining sector currently produces 15% of the UK’s CO2 emissions – the government is aiming to cut manufacturing emissions by around two-thirds by 2035. 

Ross continued: “While the road to net zero is long, manufacturers can all make small changes to greatly reduce emissions and contribute to the government’s targets. Not only will targets be met, but companies can position themselves above competitors, as better placed to transition into a greener future.” 

He gave three tips for manufacturers looking to cut their emissions: 

1. Onshore manufacturing

Onshoring manufacturing can reduce emissions of firms’ logistics processes as the distance between suppliers and their final points of arrival is decreased. 

Ross said it also delivers benefits of creating shorter lead times, cutting delays caused by global shipping disruptions, and reducing costs. “The lack of reliance on volatile markets that can face global disruptions puts companies in a great position to adapt to change,” he said.

2. Circular manufacturing

He said implementing “circular manufacturing” can extend a product’s life cycle by remanufacturing existing products to prevent excess waste and consumption. 

Research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation claimed 45% of CO2 emissions can be tackled by changing the way goods are made and used. Circular manufacturing can enable companies to reduce this demand by 50-98%, he outlined. 

“Not only does this reduce emissions, but it also provides a competitive advantage as customers can save money through remanufacturing rather than purchasing a brand-new product.” 

3. Lean manufacturing

Lean manufacturing focuses on cutting unnecessary transportation, reducing inventory, overproduction and excess processes. 

Such manufacturing is “essential”, Ross said, as with the growing global supply chain, opportunities for warehouse waste are higher than ever. 

By focusing on stripping back production processes, firms can save money, reduce emissions, and get closer to their net zero targets.

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