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Energy transition, not sustainability, leading UK manufacturing ESG drive

02/11/21

Sustainability across UK industrial manufacturing sectors is lagging behind other environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics according to PwC’s latest Manufacturing Operations pulse survey.

Less than a quarter of UK respondents (24%) identified sustainability as a business priority despite 70% stating that the growing demand for sustainability now topped their list of operational impacts, according to the latest survey. This is compared to 53% of global manufacturers.

But as COP26 gets underway in Glasgow, the survey also highlights some positive action being taken by UK manufacturers. It reports that four in five are investing in reducing energy use and measuring energy efficiency while diversity and inclusion is a priority for 74% of respondents and 76% identified health and safety as applied to products as another notable area of focus. 

According to the data, the UK is responding to these three areas to a greater extent than their global peers - only 66% of Chinese and 71% of German respondents highlighted diversity and inclusion as a priority with the US not ranking as a top five focus area, for example.   

It’s clear that ESG criteria are increasingly the standards by which investors, customers, and would-be employees assess potential engagement within businesses, which is why it’s vital that the industry resets its approach, as Cara Haffey, PwC UK’s industrial manufacturing leader, explains:

“COP26 offers a key staging-post for the sector with the governance and legislative decisions that flow from Glasgow likely to shape action for years to come. 

“We’re already seeing a significant level of progress across the sector, but more transformational thinking is needed if the industry is to be truly sustainable in the long term.  It is perfectly possible, for example, to argue that a circular economy mindset towards creating reuse or recycle-ready products could have mitigated the current microchip crisis, making the retrieval of valuable parts more practical or cost-effective. 

“Manufacturing firms are well-placed to take this on board, after all, project management at scale is a core expertise across the sector and most are accustomed to defining key performance indicators whether as a means of measuring production floor efficiency or monitoring engineering targets.

“Those firms that can align radical and responsible change across their operations, implement a fair transition business model to get them to net zero and measure progress in a transparent and accountable manner, will be well positioned to meet future challenges and secure a sustainable future.”

Ends

 

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Chris French

Chris French

Manager, media relations, PwC United Kingdom

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