The Virtual Breakfast Morning held for members of the Made in Group on Wednesday 8th March saw industry leaders gather to share their experiences regarding a variety of important industry topics, including a designated group which discussed “Sustainable Suppliers".
This discussion topic followed on well from the talk which members heard from Pam Jackson (Director at Siddall & Hilton) who discussed how the company is using new digital technologies to improve sustainability by optimising operational efficiencies through monitoring and measuring manufacturing processes.
The Challenge of Increased Environmental Compliance
It is apparent within all industries, particularly the UK manufacturing & engineering sectors, that firms are having to work increasingly hard to adhere to increasing legislation, such as waste into water bodies, emissions, etc.
There are now severe penalties and environmental and health critical processes which if broken could have catastrophic consequences for a firms, so companies are having to keep up to date with environmental compliance. Sustainability measures are not only often a mandatory government compliance, but they are also can be favoured by customers and other companies within the supply chain.
As part of this discussion, it was voiced that many customers would appreciate if a company has an EPD. An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a document where you can find data about the environmental impact of a certain building material.
However, whilst having an EPD can be desirable for many different reasons, these require a large amount of time and money to be invested, so often sustainability needs to be also strived towards through other means...
Sustainability In Its Many Forms
Whilst the likes of acquiring an EPD is desirable for many firms, companies will often first look for quicker to implement means of boosting their sustainability, such as the likes of installing LED lights, and ensuring less waste is produced by recycling.
Another venture for sustainability which companies can strive towards is assessing the sustainability of their supply chain. Supply chains within UK manufacturing & engineering are complex, due there being inter-connectedness and dependencies across the supply chain network. Keeping track of all sustainability measures applied in a product’s supply chain is therefore another layer of complexity, and companies have the additional job of monitoring every step of a product’s manufacturing journey. Which is a big challenge!
From a short-term perspective, implementing new measures of sustainability - such as acquiring EPDs, reassessing supply chains and setting new working standards - will often use more resources and increase costs. However, once these sustainability efforts have taken effect, these can ultimately not only reduce costs but also enhance a brand and its reputation, help to develop new partnerships, and further business innovation.