Manufacturing the British environment

That’s the topic we’ve caught in the Made in Britain Twitter net: 3 June 2021

EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #MadeinBritainHour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 21,000 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited but most have been left in their casual Twitter style.

This week we discuss protecting the environment.

Question one: how are British manufacturers working towards environmental goals: products, ways of working, material sourcing?

Response: In our industry paper and board used is mainly FSC certified which is sourced from sustainable forests. Our paper and board waste is recycled as well as all materials that are recyclable 

Response: Sustainable product sourcing plays a huge part in environmental goals, as do ISO standards. All our boxes are recycled and recyclable and we work at a high ISO9001 standard.

Made in Britain: The recyclable aspect is so important. Have you altered your design to allow that?

Response: Agreed. We've not so much as altered the design. Paper-based products have been widely recyclable for years and the majority of our boxes are simply reused newspapers. Our food-grade boxes were a bigger issue, we had to use a Polyethylene (PE) lining.. This lining and the stitches are the only parts that are not decomposable, but instead are widely recycled.

Made in Britain: Are you seeing this as a competitive advantage?

Response: Good question. We haven't come across a business like ours just yet. There are places still doing wire-stitching but they also make traditional boxes, the majority of which use glue and other chemical-based products. As a whole, I'd say we have an environmental advantage yes

Made in Britain: That sounds a huge differentiator. Packaging seems to be coming to the front of the queue now for people to be interested in the environmental aspects. Would you agree?

Response: Completely, the majority of our customers have that exact mind frame. The downside is, in comparison to traditional boxes, our products can be quite costly.

Made in Britain Does that then put you in a slightly different market? at the upper end of it?

Response: I'd say that's accurate. They're not a product someone would buy to store basic paperwork for example. A lot of our customers are on the more luxurious side. From Merino Wool socks to hand-made singular candles etc.

Made in Britain: There is something about packaging as nice as those that positions a product so well.

Response: Achieving environmental ISO standards, ensuring environmental consideration is at the heart of the organization processes

Made in Britain: Do you think it is important to have the ISO certification? Is that something that maybe a pre-req for customers in the future?

Response: I would certainly recommend it, and to, to all my clients as it improves and ups their game considerably.

Response: Product development with alternative materials in mind, reviewing supply chain and where materials are despatched from. Using the messaging in their marketing, promoting environmental objectives to their clients. Many of their clients maybe be setting them environmental targets

Made in Britain: Environmental targets are certainly an interesting area to discuss. Realistic ones that are achievable. Ones that are sector specific?

Response: This is an area which is a hot topic this year as we are hosting COP26

Response: Do you think COP26 will have a big impact on British manufacturers stepping up to the environmental plate?

Response: It is certainly putting them under the spotlight. There is much talk and focus as the conversations lead into the conference.

Response: Sourcing materials is a good example of British manufacturers working towards environmental goals The galv steel we use is upcycled car parts. Our scrap metal is also sent off to be recycled

Made in Britain: Is that upcycled from within the UK or is it not as easy to specify where it comes from?

Response: It's hard to specify admittedly, but we choose to purchase our materials from local businesses to reduce transportation

Made in Britain: It is an interesting area because many businesses use recycled/upcycled materials and I'm sure they would ideally like to be able to determine where it has come from?

Response: I'm sure, upon quizzing our supplier, they too would be able to determine its precise location

Response: In 2011 our environmental impact score was 5%. It is now 1% but that is a hard one to crack if we are to remain solvent. It is a matter of compromise. Some targets are not possible.

Made in Britain: That is such an important point. It is about compromise. Do you think some of the environmental targets are too long-term? 2035, 2050 etc? 

Response: The way the technology is currently running I think they are too short. Do what can be done now but plan long term for the bigger stuff. A week is a long time in Politics 30 years is an eternity and anything can happen in between.

Response: It seems there has been a massive push for many businesses including manufacturers to obtain B corp status which is great to see

Made in Britain: Is attaining B Corp status something that takes a huge commitment from a company to complete?

Response: I am not an expert but I know it takes a fair amount of commitment in terms of attaining sustainability goals. I have also heard that it is less onerous than achieving ISO accreditations - it is something I need to look into more.

Made in Britain : A few Made in Britain members have achieved B Corp status and suggest it is a fairly large commitment to achieve. It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has been through the process

Response: Absolutely and it's quite right that it takes considerable commitment to achieve - it wouldn't be worth having if it was easy and a matter of paying lip service

Made in Britain: Do you think companies look at B Corp status from a commercial point of view or from a "doing the right thing" perspective? 

Response: Both in truth. The consumer is becoming increasingly discerning and conscientious about their buying choices so doing the right thing in business is THE commercially viable option for the most part.

Question two: are environmental and sustainability targets at the upper end of the objectives for British manufacturers or are other factors taking priority?

Response: We were not planning for a global pandemic 2 years ago. With all the issues that business owners have to consider for their business survival and success, these issues will move up and down the agenda.

Made in Britain: Many weren't planning for a pandemic in Feb/March last year either - which was an interesting one.

Response: As we move into #rebuild #postCovid19, many businesses will put other priorities first. But hopefully they are not falling off the agenda, especially as targets connected with the environment and sustainability may be high on the list of their target markets.

Made in Britain: I wonder how easy it would be to tie environmental targets for a business with financial targets - reduce waste, reduce energy use etc

Response: I am sure that many businesses can start immediately tying in environmental targets with financial targets. It will mean small adjustments to the way they operate, but will start them on the road to meeting those targets.

Response: For some the environmental targets are perceived as a stick to beat them with. It may be better to show the financial benefits of reduced energy cost, reduced transport and alternative materials. Environmental puts pounds onto your bottom line

Made in Britain: Is there an educational part to this - "it doesn't cost the earth to save the earth" or "it can actually save you money"?

Response: I am sure that we shall see a lot of educational in the coming months....

Made in Britain: It is certainly needed. Maybe some companies will step forward with some case studies with REAL financials attached? then again its a competitive world out there

Response: Will look forward to these case studies and best practices.

Response: Right now, #buildbackbetter will probably peak at the priority scale. I think environmental targets will take a small hit. Businesses have fewer funds and sustainable products are likely to cost more.

Made in Britain: Is the price of recycled materials becoming closer to virgin materials? Obviously they can't always be used due to spec

Response: Completely depends on the industry and the material. For example, recycling most metals is just a case of melting them down. In our case, it's extracting pulp, ink, and more which can be a big, costly process.

Response: It wouldn't surprise me if other objectives have taken precedence, especially given current global events i.e. Covid 19 and the recovery, Huge material price rises, for some businesses - surviving

Made in Britain We're seeing more and more news about the material prices, making mainstream news now. Do you think the prices might be the final straw for some businesses?

Response: If they cannot sell their goods due to high costs, then that would be the final straw.

Response: It's tough to say as each business is in a different position to others Prices rises will see lost custom no doubt but the truth is, everyone will be feeling the impact of rising costs right the way through to the consumer. Increased costs is inevitable this year

Response: We believe so! There is still a way to go to reaching @circecon, but steps are being taken to reach these goals.

Made in Britain: How are you working towards circularity and environmental targets?

Response: We operate a plastics policy in line with @WRAP_UKrecommendations https://miswa.com/plastics-policy We also recycle cardboard used within our manufacturing process

Made in Britain: Has Brexit had any effect on recommendations/standards in your sector?

Response: Brexit has led to changes across the board, we expect there to be challenges and teething problems

Response: Environmental and sustainability targets should be a priority but price seems to be the main objective! Can we afford it? Is always the question

Made in Britain: Has the sustainable/environmentally conscious offering got a label of "being expensive"? is that fair?

Response: Not fair! 

Response: Agreed, and sometimes not even quantified

Question three: what government and non-government support is available to manufacturers to help achieve the net-zero goals?

Response: We are not aware of any government support out there, if there is any we would like to know

Response: If I come across any info on this I will circulate.

Made in Britain: That is an interesting observation. There are ITAs for international trade, is there an equivalent to help businesses become more sustainable?

Response: Are we speaking from a government department or from NGOs, etc?

Response: Government

Response: I will check as not sure.

Response: Have a look at https://ktn-uk.org They have Gov funding for the development of innovative products and there is a section on environmental grants to access. They also help innovators meet up and collaborate. I get an email every week showing the funds available that you can bid for. Join and tick the Environmental group. talk to them and a local consultant that helps to write the pitches for you.

Response: I was on a B7 call discussing net-zero commitments. Many of FTSE businesses have committed & they are urging other businesses to do the same. They were talking of roundtables & other support from organisations like CBI etc, but I am not sure what format of support is available

Made in Britain: We've touched on this before - is Net-Zero slightly misleading?

Response: I would agree...

Made in Britain: Does there need to be some more clarity around net-zero and also a broader target?

Response: Yes...otherwise they are just catchphrases bandied about.

Question four: is there an opportunity for British manufacturers to develop products to help other companies both in Britain and overseas to achieve the net-zero and sustainability targets?

Response: This the greatest opportunity for British innovation. The global drive to improve the environment, a worthy cause. We have a head start for a new sector that can sell its innovation and inventiveness to other countries. We must not give it away.

Response: Surely there must be. Anything that can be bought locally, should be bought locally, it will immediately have a huge impact on the environment. We can and get items cheaper from overseas but does anyone think of the environment impact it has?

Response: There is a huge educational process to go through. If you can go online and buy a product from China and have it delivered in a few days by air courier then why buy British? This is the hurdle that, sadly, many British manufacturers need to jump.

Response: Although we are committed by law, the ask is high and brings together the whole value chain for manufacturing. I am sure that products and collaborations that can help to meet these targets would be welcomed and encouraged and I am sure there are such goods already on the market

Response: Massive scope for this, because Britain & Europe now meet more stringent stds for waste treatment (e.g. landfills are better isolated, incineration produces fewer toxic fumes, more recycled material is used, energy supply is 'greener'). In getting to this point, British co's will have built skills, innovations & experience which have value to be marketed more widely. The q. is whether countries that are further behind in such methods & which have other budget priorities will be prepared to pay for this.

Response: Absolutely - our antimicrobial technology has helped clients particularly in retail to develop #reusablebags #reusablecoffeecups for example, avoiding single use.

Join Made in Britain on Twitter at 1pm every Thursday for #MadeinBritainHour. We engage with everybody, members and non-members alike (some of whom become members as a result). Hopefully, see you there.

This page has links to all the previous Twitter conversations we have 'caught in the net': CLICK HERE.

By Made in Britain 3 months ago | Made in Britain news

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