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Just a third of manufacturers consider net zero to be a priority, says SWMAS

1 March 2023
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Manufacturers in the South West are bullish about their prospects in the coming year

Energy prices are negatively impacting the majority of UK SME manufacturers, according to the latest Manufacturing Barometer survey by SWMAS, the South West Manufacturing Advisory Service.

But although half of respondents view the government’s target to achieve net zero by 2050 as positive for UK manufacturing, only 42 per cent are confident this will actually be beneficial for their individual business.

And although three-quarters of manufacturing firms (73 per cent) have said they are already working towards net zero only a very small number of these businesses (two per cent) actually know the carbon footprint for the products they supply, and just three per cent have a detailed carbon footprint ready for their organisation.

Half (50 per cent) of manufacturers have started, but are yet to formally establish any metrics, and an additional 23 per cent have so far only attained a basic carbon footprint for their organisation.

Meanwhile, only 37 per cent of respondents have actually taken a pledge for their business to achieve net zero – with three-quarters of those firms aiming to reach this at least 10 years before the government’s 2050 target.

But more than 70 per cent of the firms questioned reported that the transition to net zero is not a current priority for their business.Sixty-four per cent told the survey that the benefits outweigh the cost of implementing low carbon improvements, and almost half (44 per cent) have said there is nothing driving them to prioritise net zero over other issues in the business.

Nick Golding, managing director at SWMAS, said: "Profitability remains a challenge for most firms, particularly with the current energy crisis which is showing no signs of waning.

"It is understandable that for most, implementing the new net zero standard isn’t a priority with other challenges being faced, particularly when planning and implementing a scheme to neutralise their carbon footprint will cost additional time, resources and money.”

Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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