Over half of UK manufacturers seemingly on target to achieve net zero goals


  • Research reveals manufacturing sector as one of the best prepared to meet 2050 UK Net Zero targets with 57 per cent of businesses having a strategy to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • 33% of manufacturing businesses said the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the sustainability goals of their manufacturing business as priorities have shifted.

A new survey of SME[1] decision makers conducted by YouGov on behalf of World Kinect Energy Services appears to reveal that the manufacturing industry is one of the leading sectors to set sustainability goals, therefore reducing its carbon footprint and impact on the environment.

Reducing the world’s emissions and slowing down climate change has become a top priority. The UK Government recently set out its plan for a green industrial revolution to ensure the country reaches its 2050 net zero targets to reduce carbon emissions.

YouGov conducted the survey on behalf of leading energy management, fuel supply and sustainability company, World Kinect Energy Services, which included MDs and CEOs from over 12 different UK industries including hospitality, construction, retail, medical and health as well as manufacturing.

The survey revealed that over half (57 per cent) of UK manufacturing businesses have a sustainability plan in place to help reduce carbon emissions, and only 23 per cent admitted to not having any future plans to introduce one.

Overall, 40% of the 1,021 UK SMEs surveyed do not have a plan in place to become more sustainable, with 30% not intending to put a net zero strategy in place at all. 53 per cent, however, do have a plan in place, which is hopeful that they will hit the 2050 deadline, yet only 34 per cent have actually achieved any goals.

Barriers to sustainability
The study also sought to identify the barriers that could be preventing businesses from making further progress towards hitting sustainability targets, such as implementing energy saving solutions or adopting renewable energy technology.

Budget is cited as the biggest hurdle with almost half (47 per cent) of manufacturing businesses saying financial costs are the largest barrier to sustainability/ carbon neutrality.

A third (33 per cent) of operators in the manufacturing sector have also seen their plans to become more sustainable halted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as priorities have shifted, or they have had to close.

“Organisations must act now.”

Commenting on the research findings, Senior Director of Global Sustainability, Therese Gjerde, said: “Despite some sectors leading the way to reduce their carbon footprint, such as the manufacturing industry, we are still coming across so many businesses who simply aren’t ready for net zero, which is reflected in this independent research.

“The 2050 deadline for net zero is a lot closer than people think and it can take time to develop a realistic, achievable strategy and even longer to implement it. Organisations must act now and start their sustainability journey by developing a long-term emissions reduction strategy that will benefit their impact on the environment.

“Net zero targets could be brought forward, so ignoring the deadline may lead to penalties or larger pay outs further down the line.”

[1] Businesses with 1 to 249 employees