Manufacturing SMEs lead the way on environmental collaboration

Small and medium-sized businesses in the manufacturing industry can have their own environmental manager for up to 15 months thanks to a new initative backed by Defra.

The Department is funding a pilot project to test a new, collaborative approach to sharing resource efficiency managers amongst two clusters of manufacturing SMEs.

By supporting the placement of a skilled resource efficiency manager in each of two clusters of businesses for up to 15months, the project aims to provide insight into the potential of shared employee models in helping SMEs access quality staff cost effectively.

Nigel Marsh, global head of environment at Rolls-Royce, explained: “We are planning to roll out our global Resource Efficiency Action Programme this year to help us reduce waste in our own operations. Whilst focusing on our internal operations we also recognise that there are even greater benefits to be achieved across our external supply chain.

“We are keen to share our programmes, successes and best practice with our suppliers. This project provides us with a timely opportunity to try a new approach to working with our suppliers as part of our supplier development programmes for business efficiency.”

To build on Rolls-Royce’s approach, a resource efficiency manager will be provided full time to be shared amongst a cohort of SMEs who are part of their UK supply chain. A second resource efficiency manager will be in place for a cohort of member businesses from the manufacturers’ organisation, EEF, in the South West and Wales region.

Sustainable industry

Phil Brownsord, EEF South West regional director, said: “Although increasing resource costs are a significant risk to our members SMEs are unable to justify a dedicated employee to manage this issue. By sharing an environmental manager, members will have dedicated expertise but at a cost that is proportionate to their turnover.

“This project has the potential to deliver cost savings, innovative products and improved partnerships with customers, and importantly for EEF promotes a growing and sustainable manufacturing base in the UK”.

Businesses wishing to access resources used by the resource efficiency managers will also be able to join a network group and keep abreast of progress on the project. Researchers, advisors and other interested bodies are also welcome to be part of a wider stakeholder group for the project to help share learnings and experiences.

A project website is being established at 

Luke Nicholls

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