Net Zero Planning

What does net zero mean?

Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. Net Zero can only be achieved when the amount of emissions we produce is no more than the amount taken away.

This can be done by reducing existing emissions and actively removing greenhouse gases to achieve a carbon-neutral status.

  • Reducing emissions can be done by moving towards more efficient energy sources and industry processes that produce less greenhouse gases.
  • Carbon offsetting is the process of reducing or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions, or removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make up for emissions elsewhere.

When the amount of carbon emissions produced are cancelled out by the amount removed, the UK will be a net-zero emitter.

What are the UK’s ambitions around net zero greenhouse gas emissions?

The Climate Change Act 2008 committed the UK to an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

In 2019, the UK government made a landmark commitment to achieve net zero greenhouses gas emissions by 2050.

Greenhouse gases have been falling steadily in the UK for the past 30 years, despite levels rising globally. In 2018, emissions in the UK stood at 57% of their 1990 levels.

However, if the nation is to meet its net zero target in 2050, serious effort is needed. This means adapting the way we travel, dispose of waste, generate energy and use resources.

How does manufacturing impact our carbon footprint?

Britain is one of the biggest manufacturing nations in the world, employing over 3 million people. The UK’s manufacturing firms deliver almost half of all UK exports and drive over 60% of all UK R&D.

The manufacturing industry is also one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters worldwide, and in the UK alone, industry accounts for 21% of emissions.

The emissions produced by manufacturing companies during production come from a range of sources, including:

  • Consuming fossil fuels for energy
  • Transportation
  • Energy use

The manufacturing industry has a major role to play in achieving a net zero status in the UK.

How can the manufacturing sector work towards net zero?

To achieve carbon neutrality, we need to rethink the way we use transport, energy, waste, and buildings.

When it comes to the manufacturing industry, there is a significant opportunity for the sector to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. From making changes to operations and administrative measures, to transforming production processes and equipment, there are some specific ways that manufacturers can respond to the net zero target. These include:

Administrative changes:

  • Renegotiate energy contracts – although this doesn’t directly translate to reduced carbon emissions, this is a simple way to improve energy efficiency and management.
  • Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) – a long-term agreement with a low carbon provider
  • Switch to a renewable-backed or REGO energy provider
  • Behaviour change – to improve energy efficiency and promote waste reduction
  • Implement a Climate Change Agreement (CCA) – a voluntary agreement made between manufacturers and the Environment Agency to reduce energy use and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, in return for a discount on the Climate Change Levy (CCL)

Technical changes:

  • Digital monitoring to control energy consumption,
  • Building efficiency improvements – such as smart lighting/IT equipment, waste reduction
  • Upgrading equipment – replacing dated equipment with more efficient products
  • Manufacturing process improvements
  • On-site renewable energy generation
  • Implementing sustainable measure – such as reducing the amount waste and raw materials used
  • Transport changes – providing electric charging points for staff and visitors and upgrading company fleet to electric vehicles

Operational changes:

  • Business model changes – switching to a hire/lease model instead of buying/selling, changing production processes
  • Asset management – streamline operations and logistics

What challenges does the manufacturing sector face to become net zero?

Investment is one of the biggest barriers in moving towards a net zero status for the manufacturing industry. Upfront costs for more efficient machinery, vehicles and infrastructure can be a challenge for many firms.

A lack of knowledge on best practice and available options can also prevent a manufacturing business make progress with their net zero ambitions. This is where a sustainability expert can help.

Your Engain expert will guide you through the net zero journey, identifying critical path emissions reductions, energy efficiencies, and any potential grants and funding. They will also provide a roadmap of key target to achieve scope one (energy efficiencies, thermal insulation etc, which are usually the major contributors), scope two (changes in waste and other resource use) and scope three (managing supply chains).

When net zero strategic planning has been completed, our experts can then advise on implementation to achieve these targets.

To discuss your net zero ambitions and how best to implement efficiencies, contact our expert consultants on 01225 459564 or email

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