SME manufacturers benefitting from shared resource efficiency expertise
Ten manufacturing SMEs in England and Wales are collaborating to improve resource efficiency as part of a new action-based research programme organised by Defra.
The programme, supported by Rolls-Royce and the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, sees the 10 businesses share resource efficiency managers for a 15-month timeframe to help each company identify, make the business case for and take action on cost-effective resource efficiency improvements.
Since the launch of the project last November, each firm has now had a baseline review carried out and the shared resource efficiency managers are helping them work through delivery of action plans. Defra believes this way of working will help overcome the key resource efficiency barriers of staff resource and availability of specialist knowledge.
Resource Management Minister Dan Rogerson said: “We are pleased to support this pilot project, which will help these SMEs save valuable time and money by giving access to the advice and support of a shared resource efficiency manager. This project is part of our wider approach to enable businesses to be more sustainable.”
Four of the participating businesses are being supported as part of the Rolls-Royce aerospace components supply chain, while the other six businesses – all located in South West England and South East Wales - are part of the EEF regionally-based company cohort. Jointly, the 10 businesses employ 1150 staff and have a combined turnover of £110m.
Defra has been tracking the progress of the companies’ resource efficiency over the past three months. Awareness of resource efficiency and environmental issues among all the businesses was found to be high and the reduction of impacts on the environment is seen as beneficial.
But improving environmental performance isn’t the primary driver for resource efficiency in the group of businesses. All the businesses want the same outcome from improved resource efficiency: commercial benefit – preferably at low cost. All the businesses in the project did say they are willing to invest where there’s a convincing business case.
By the end of the research project, Defra hopes to have a better insight into what value SMEs are likely to place on the availability of such a resource in addition to any direct financial returns from improvements in resource efficiency.
This is the fourth round of projects to be commissioned as part of Defra’s programme of action based research to test innovative approaches for encouraging sustainable and resource efficient behaviours.