Green tech task force launched to improve resource efficiency of UK businesses

Think tank Green Alliance has launched a new green technology task force in a bid to encourage the development of innovations which will improve resource efficiency in the UK's manufacturing sector, which could unlock up to £10bn in profit in the process.

Launched on Thursday (13 September), the task force will see leading businesses in the manufacturing sector collaborate to determine where policy can accelerate the adoption of technologies that can reduce environmental impacts while improving economic growth.

The founder members of the task force are the High-Value Manufacturing Catapult, Innovate UK and Schneider Electric, along with automation trade group GAMBICA and engineering consultancy Ramboll.

Green Alliance said in a statement that the collaboration of these founder organisations will help to bridge the industry’s north-south divide and resulting regional productivity gap.

“We know smart technology is a powerful way to deliver clean growth and bring business resource costs down, but limited uptake is preventing UK businesses from realising those opportunities,” Green Alliance’s chief economist Angela Francis said.

“To get politicians’ attention, we have to show them how this can benefit blue-collar workers in the Midlands and the north of England, who have told them in no uncertain terms the economy isn’t delivering for them.”  

The launch of the task force comes after the Government’s latest Made Smarter review concluded that technology-enabled resource efficiency could add up to £10bn to the profits of the UK manufacturing sector.

 Mission Possible for manufacturing 

edie recently published its own Insight Report into the state of sustainability in the manufacturing sector, which highlighted the progress on factors such as renewable energy procurement, sustainable supply chain actions and making facilities more energy and resource-efficient. 

Of 23 big-name businesses in the sector which were surveyed for the report, more than a third (35%) said they were on track to source 100% renewable energy by 2020, while a quarter (26%) said they were likely to set a science-based emissions reduction target by the same deadline. 

As for resource efficiency, almost a third (30%) of respondents told edie that ‘more innovative product and packaging design’ had become a top circular economy priority for their business. The same proportion claimed they would like to see a higher value placed on remanufactured goods and materials.

Among the companies already utilising technology to make a move towards more closed-loop models is Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), which last year expanded its aluminium recycling scheme that places end-of-life materials into new high-performance JLR products. 

Similarly, Swedish carmaker Volvo has pledged to use at least 25% recycled plastic in all new vehicles it produces by 2025. The company hopes the move will drive cross-industry change, encouraging competitors to develop more circular next-generation components through design that incorporates repurposed waste streams.

Sarah George

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie