EXCLUSIVE: Awareness growing around environmental benefits of cross-sector collaboration
There is a growing awareness of how cross-sector partnerships are providing environmental benefits to business, particularly in the automotive industry, says Toyota's Steve Hope.
Hope, Toyota's general manager of environmental affairs and corporate citizenship, told edie that industries are starting to break away from a linear way of thinking and companies leading in sustainability are looking wider than their "own doorstep".
Noticeably, wider industry collaboration is beginning to progress areas of resource efficiency, particularly water and energy, says Hope.
"We've joined the Centre for Industrial Sustainability, headed up by EPSRC. We're involved in various projects but this is where we can discuss these issues with other big companies from different sectors, such as Marks & Spencer's for example.
"We're learning from these big companies and they're learning from us as well. This means we can start sharing information around these issues and look at how we can deal with them," he adds.
"For example, initially you wouldn't think Unilever has a lot to do with manufacturing and making cars but actually both industries use water in their processes so water footprints and water management can be a good area that we can collaborate on".
Hope says this knowledge sharing can be transferred onto other issues including energy, as "we all use energy" - making energy management another prominent area of collaboration.
One example of this, says Hope, is a buildings project Toyota worked on with several cross-sector organisations, called THERM (THrough-life Energy and Resource Modelling).
Funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board, the THERM team consisted of IES, Toyota, Airbus, Cranfield and DeMontfort University.
Hope says THERM is a perfect example of cross-sector collaboration because it uses the different skill sets of companies coming from a range of sectors and enables new approaches to manufacturing.
THERM, a software tool for sustainable manufacturing, was developed to solve the demand for manufacturing to become low-carbon and resource efficient.
Hope says advancing software like THERM is also enhancing corporate awareness of how business can use their skill sets to reduce another's environmental impact, adding that is also giving industries a "better platform to establish partnerships".