Insights / Manufacturers' priorities on the path to net zero

How UK manufacturing can reach net zero

27th September 2021

What really matters to our manufacturers as they drive to decarbonise? Discover their true priorities in our new report.

Download report now


The first priority for the C-suite across UK manufacturing is maintaining smooth and efficient operations. That’s the conclusion of our new report Navigate to Next.

Our respondents explained that many senior managers see progress to net zero as a process of continuous improvement, rather than dramatic change. In that respect, it’s similar to many of the developments that have come about since the introduction of the kaizen (‘just in time’) approach among manufacturers.

Lean manufacturing – a production method aimed primarily at reducing times within the production system as well as response times from suppliers and to customers. It’s derived from Toyota's 1930 operating model, "The Toyota Way".

Leaders’ second priority is energy use and cost. There’s a harmony here for companies who’ve adopted lean manufacturing practices, which tend to see excessive energy consumption as wasteful. That means many of them have already been improving their carbon efficiency. By increasing energy efficiency, they can also cut costs, achieving core business goals as well as environmental ones.

UK Manufacturers net zero priorities - GIF

Scope 1 emissions – direct emissions from company-owned and controlled resources

Scope 2 emissions – indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy, from a utility provider.

Scope 3 emissions – indirect emissions linked to company operations

The third priority for senior management in manufacturing organisations is reducing emissions. Direct (Scope 1) emissions are regarded as most important for 18% of our respondents along with indirect (Scope 2) emissions.

Scope 3 emissions are seen as the lowest priority, possibly because many manufacturers do not want to place increased pressure on their partners up- or downstream in their supply chain. Indeed, only 5% of respondents said they regarded supply chain leadership as their highest priority.

Yet Scope 3 emissions typically form the majority of UK manufacturing companies’ inventory. There is potential to make dramatic changes in this area, if organisations can work together to bring about concerted action.

How UK manufacturing can reach net zero - Rich Text Image

One finding in the report identifies what’s driving the change to net zero in this sector. Regulatory requirements, plus demands from consumers, employees, and shareholders are all seen as less important factors than the personal commitment of individual decision makers and senior managers.

The drive to net zero will be one of the dominant trends in manufacturing over the next decades. Download your free copy of Navigate to Next and see how UK manufacturers see their priorities changing.

Download your copy now

Related articles