EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 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.
This week we look at sustainable marketing for manufacturers.
Question one: Has the importance of sustainability been affected by the pandemic? Has it become more important to manufacturers or have other factors taken priority?
Response: I'm not sure if it has been affected by the pandemic, it has certainly been a growing trend in conversations We've not yet had a customer who required sustainable credentials, but we're confident in the fact that Metal spinning is a sustainable process in terms of material use. It's been a huge thing for certain industries however, take the automotive with many companies targeting 2025 to be fully electric.
Response: We often have customers who choose us over competitors due to our efforts to make the business more environmentally sustainable—it’s incredibly important to our business model now.
Made in Britain: How do you go about promoting what you do to be more sustainable?
Response: It’s on all of the literature we send to our (potential) clients, and we have dedicated sections on our websites detailing our efforts
Response: We’re ISO14001 accredited so we’re committed to sustainability as a business priority. Not sure we’ve seen any direct affect from the pandemic but there has definitely been a big shift in the drive towards EV during the same period
Response: A lot of businesses will be concentrating on their immediate survival but once the economic upset starts to reduce businesses will start thinking about how they could be affected in the future and may start to include sustainability in their long term strategies.
Response: The pandemic will have delayed the process for some businesses and that is understandable.
Response: Yes, we produced calendars with shrink wrapping due to the pandemic as we could not action the sustainable #plasticfree alternative during the course of last year
Response: Sustainability is survival. All companies should be working for this outcome. In covid times we have seen a fast transition to Digital. Most have not given digital skills training to their staff so the experience has been poor for many.
Response: We have provided quotes to two potential new clients just this week who have both asked us to investigate recycled/sustainable materials. Although this might just be coincidental, both have not manufactured using these types of materials before.
Made in Britain: That is good to hear. Is there a difference in price to use such materials?
Response: Yes I believe so. It has always been a challenge to specify high quality, second use plastics because of their limited availability and the perceived risks from contamination. Many injection moulders won't risk damage to an expensive moulding press and this is a hurdle too
Response: Our products work in the recycling industry...so that is as close as we can get to being sustainable? Its difficult with technology designed in the 1890-1910 to have it as sustainable?
Made in Britain: What is it that you produce?
Response: Shaking tables- they go in to both the mining industry and the recycling industry :)
Made in Britain: Do you sell them globally?
Response: Yes, 95% of the product leaves the country :)
Response: The raising of environmental aspects of manufacturing and its impact should not be a signal to end Mfg now and restart with a clean slate. Many companies are already doing great things. "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater".
Response: Doing great things and not necessarily realising it?
Response: All businesses are and have been doing it for many years. Turning waste into a valuable product. Producing new products from the offcuts. Insulating buildings to reduce heating cost etc
Response: I think the pandemic has opened many peoples eyes in relation to sustainability! With unnecessary transport down and supply chains smaller, people are realising the impact this is having on the environment which is through the restrictions due to COVID-19
Response: As Excell Metal Spinning also said, this is a growing trend in conversations. How much of it is still "conversation" do you think?
Response: It will take time to move fully towards sustainability, but there are ways to start even for small companies
Response: It depends on how much impact they have. The aviation & construction sectors have set out roadmaps already for reducing carbon by 2050 due to their high impact, whereas others may still be discussing the best actions they can take to make a real impact!
Response: Should it be seen by everybody that a step-wise process is better and ultimately easier to implement? Many seem to think that its a big investment outright.
Response: Absolutely, even the smallest changes to create a sustainable way of working are better than nothing at all! No one is perfect from the start and so I think people appreciate the transparency of a step-wise process!
Response: Well said, even just making small sustainable choices adds up to a more sustainable company overall.
Response: Like we were saying earlier, the automotive industry is already taking action with sustainable cars by 2025 although new arguments have formed regarding sourcing the lithium from quarries
Response: I've heard that discussion too. Does this highlight the issue about the entire environmental cost of electric cars rather than just what happens once they are delivered? They'll be shipped on diesel powered boats?
Response: Exactly that, can something be purely #sustainable right now? Can production be 100% sustainable in terms of its environmental impact? You think of the production of steel as a fairly impactful process on the environment, but recently there has been a surge in recycling steel
Response: Great point - one question that should always be addressed is "where is it being recycled" recycled material is all well and good providing it hasn't travelled round the world a few times to get recycled?
Response: I think there will always been an element of travel involved in the recycling process, Certain countries actually import materials to recycle to sustain their industries, take Sweden for example. I think travel will improve with cleaner, more efficient vehicles taking the roads
Response: I take your point. It does relate to the entire process and the entire lifetime impact of a product. Do you use recycled metals? UK recycled?
Response: We do with certain materials, take galvanised steel that uses recycled cars
Response: How does it compare on price?
Response: It's a fairly cheap material in terms of price A lot of sheet metal for other materials we have sourced from suppliers, are in fact imported however, It's difficult, maybe impossible, to find a supplier of British sheet materials, which is really surprising in some respect
Response: It has knocked confidence in the supply chain and people are looking for nearer to home alternatives
Response: How much of that is related to environmental factors and how much to just mitigating risk of non-supply?
Response: Good point. Is this an agenda that is being pushed or are companies still thinking of their own survival? Both cases are pertinent in the survival and longevity game.
Response: Plastic Free has been a big thing by supermarkets for sustainability and they are not accepting plastic for this years production !
Response: Plastic is a wonderful product for hygiene, health and recycling reasons. It is what people do with the plastic after they have used it is the problem.
Response: Is there going to be a greater amount of plastic around shortly because of all the measures to fight covid? screens? bottles? masks?
Response: This would not be a bad thing if we learn to dispose/recycle it properly.
Response: Yes, also the animals in the sea have had it bad with plastic in the sea.
Response: Street food in Asia used to be wrapped in leaves and after consuming the locals would throw the leaf into the local river. This became leaf mould and things grew from it. Now they use plastic and still throw the wrapper in the river.
Response: Absolutely! The British Plastics Federation have produced a document to explain why ‘plastic free’ does not necessarily mean ‘better for the environment’. Using any material has environmental costs, but the costs associated with plastic products are often significantly lower than using alternative materials. Plastics provide many critical benefits across a range of products and it's important this fact is recognised.
Response: Judging by client comments & media coverage, it certainly has moved up the priority list. From #circulareconomy to sustainable business growth I have set in many forums discussing why it is important & how both SMEs & large organisations can build it into their #valuechains. : It is easier for certain sectors to embrace sustainability, and cost is also a major factor.
Response: It has moved up the priority list for many but not to the top? we've heard many stories of manufacturers on a pathway towards it but have paused it for now because of other factors like dealing with the changing workplace due to covid
Response: Sustainability cuts across many divisions
Response: Does cost depend on how far you go? little changes can make a big difference?
Response: Little changes are effective, & digital has cut through a lot of the arguments. Sustainable business is more than the materials, it also includes using resources economically & reducing negative environmental impact as well as ensuring business is still viable in the long term
Response: Is that something that should be addressed by those who resist it because they think it will be expensive and disruptive? start with the simple easy fixes. If everyone did that the cumulative effect would be enormous?
Response: This is another situation similar to green and environmental approaches - they can ignore it for a short while, but the market will push them towards it, or it will ignore them and they will lose market share and trust
Question two: Apart from the environmental factors, what are the commercial benefits from becoming more sustainable in the manufacturing sector?
Response: This is an interesting question, one best viewed from the value chain and supply chain. Let us start with energy: By using energy more efficiently, there is a reduction on the level of greenhouse gases emitted as a by-product & there should be a decrease in energy bills....
Response: Therefore a reduction in the costs of production. Greater margin on product or reduce the selling price?
Response: If this approach is across the value chain/supply chain, there should be scope for both, including reinvestment in innovation and enhancement of product
Response: There's a very valid reason to do this as reducing costs help compete on price with the lesser developed countries who can produce product at lower costs?
Response: Incorporating Lean manufacturing within the shopfloor can actually make production more sustainable and reduce waste It can increase productivity, saves costs in areas, improve brand image and competitive advantage, improve our ability to comply with regulation etc.
Response: From our perspective it means that we try to cut waste across our manufacturing processes therefore spending less on materials and working smarter, looking ahead so that we can bulk up orders, anticipate needs etc to maximise materials.
Response: It is a learning curve to achieve this? cut a little waste, then work out how to do a bit more?
Response: Very much so, sometimes it's after the event, so if we get a repeat order or something similar we learn from previous mistakes and try to adjust our processes accordingly. It's a constant trial and error in some cases...
Response: Anything that can reduce production cost, add to the bottom line or improve brand image will be of benefit to the sustainability of a business. How many company executives look at their whole plant with that in mind?
Response: Reducing costs to become more competitive will give UK Companies more reasons to buy Made in Britain
Response: To name a few, it can increase productivity, reduce operational costs, enhance brand image and create a competitive advantage and potentially create a happier workforce as employees want to see CSR within their workplace!
Response: How about the carbon foot print of an item?
Response: Reducing waste, recycling and re-use all reduce costs so that’s just good business. As @NigelTPacker said previously, many companies are already doing (these) good things. Of course, other initiatives may require investment
Response: Is it more about education?
Response: I think it’s clear to most what activities can be ‘branded’ as environmental initiatives. I wonder if some businesses are concerned that they don’t want to look as if they’re ‘green washing’ their standard practices and look less than sincere?
Response: I see that a lot. Virtue signalling green credentials to distract from the damage they are doing. Inclusion of fruit or green products to give the perception they are green. We should discuss ethical marketing in a session one day... it could end up being very controversial.
Response: As a manufacturer, making sustainable choices feels good. A sustainable company ethos helps improve the brand's image in the eyes of the customer too
Question three: Is there a difference between the public and private sector procurement in the importance of sustainability when awarding contracts?
Response: There shouldn't be really. I know of private sector large corporates that ask for signs of sustainable practices, and public procurement should include this in their large scale projects.
Response: There shouldn't be........but is there? @ExcellMetalSpin said something about never being asked earlier on.
Response: We can only speak on behalf of the private sector of which our customer base tends to be within A lot of the components we supply do eventually end up within the public, but these aren't with organisation directly communicating with us. In terms of policies and documentation, we do have them created should they be required i.e. anti-slavery etc.
Response: You work with a fairly broad customer base and have never been asked?
Response: Unfortunately not, but we are conscious of our waste and our impact on the environment We work with local organisations to recycle any materials we don't use / need
Response: From our experience the public sector is a lot keener on this than the private sector. Not sure why?
Response: I think they need to cover themselves for sure, especially working in an environment more exposed to publicity
Response: I am sure it is not everywhere at the moment.....any comments from any of the companies out there?
Response: Well, there should be no difference, but we all know about the PPE from Turkey ! during the pandemic. UK companies were able and capable but it was very difficult to get to the correct department etc..
Response: The private sector is about reducing cost and increasing profitability. They all do their best to reduce enviro impact as it saves money. Public sector is driven by Political mandate... on all aspects of Gov Policy.
Response: This needs a serious debate as they should be leading on this drive
Response: A simple answer and yet inciteful view is that the Private Sector should be working well in excess of and ahead of whatever the Public Sector is doing. The rewards of behaving and acting in such an advanced consumer-aligned way could be huge.
Question four: How does a manufacturer best demonstrate their sustainability credentials?
Response: To truly promote sustainability, we have to talk about it continually. This means not simply posting once on social media about what you are doing, but you should supply constant updates about progress. Take an active role and post across platforms and in print - if appropriate
Response: I completely agree, educating your network and actually showing what it is you do sustainably really builds trust in your brands ethics I'm actually planning on writing a piece on the sustainability of metal forming processes
Response: Yes! With all things in a business, having your staff behind you is important every step of the way
Response: Is there something here about communication and understanding the customer? the customer must understand what the various terms mean and the benefits?
Response: Definitely. The man in the street is not going to understand the same definition for sustainability as someone in industry. We must separate the jargon from what really matters and ensure that our messages are clear, regardless of who is listening.
Response: Taking a 'one-size fits all approach' doesn't work here because the values of each and every customer are different. This should be more of an open dialogue than anything else--based on improvement, of course
Response: The values are different I totally agree. I'm more referring to the language and definitions used. @NigelTPacker can you post a link to your article you wrote the other week about writing/technical ?
Response: Certainly https://linkedin.com/pulse/you-shooting-yourself-foot-nigel-t-packer/…
Response: Apart from signing up to international initiatives and charters which monitor and provide accreditation, businesses should look to creating their policies and having them clearly displayed on their websites.
Response: By being outspoken on the matter, posting regularly as and practicing what you preach. Showing that you actually are trying to be as sustainable as poss.
Response: We really like seeing stories and explanations of how manufacturers are becoming more sustainable. Simple explanations also help as these are understood across the different sectors and ideas can then be adopted.
Response: ISO 26000 is available but clear demonstrations through websites and proposals and quotes can be just as effective
Response: Is the customer interested in the service/products of the company and how they deliver. Learn about your customers and show them your credentials in discussions or through the website.
Response: Agree entirely....most consumers understand marques such as ISO, and wool marks, etc, so seeing it will mean that at least the business is looking into them. They will also associate it with quality and marques should be displayed with pride
Response: Communicating in all ways possible to customers. A lot of customers think if its "sustainable" it will be "more expensive". We use all FSC materials in our print production, does everyone here know what #FSC means?
Response: Customer reviews. Sustainability Expert reviews of processes & products. Accreditation visibility. A well-written policy & strategy document that is shared publicly. Publicly contributing to 'the discussion', causes & their local community's environment.
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