Big savings from resource gains

18th April 2011

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  • Management ,
  • Waste ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Construction ,
  • Recycling



UK business could save around £23 billion a year from resource-efficiency measures that are either no or low cost, according to new research from Defra.

The findings also indicate that a further £33 billion can be saved annually when investment in efficiency measures that have a payback of more than one year are implemented. In addition to saving money, better use of resources can reduce carbon emissions by between 29 and 90 million tonnes, says the environment department.

Commenting on the findings, environment secretary Caroline Spelman said: “Becoming more resource-efficient contributes to a business’s bottom line, increases profitability and their capacity to grow.

“In addition to improving competitiveness, businesses could reduce carbon emissions by 29 million tonnes a year; so it’s a win-win for business and the environment.”

Defra says that reducing waste and diversion from landfill can produce around £18 billion of the potential no- or low-cost savings, with energy- and water-efficiency savings worth another £4 billion and £1 billion respectively.

The report estimates, for example, that 6.5 million tonnes of construction waste could be diverted from landfill and recycled, while the waste reduction opportunity for the industry is 1.17 million tonnes.

The environment department also highlights the barriers that need to be overcome to realise such savings. It points out that both lean manufacturing and waste reduction need to be driven by production management, but that environmental issues tend to be driven by environment managers or facilities managers with a focus on waste management.

Separate research by Eurobarometer reveals that 75% of European businesses have experienced an increase in material costs in the past five years, while 90% expect price increases in the future.

To tackle this challenge, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are looking to eco-innovation as their answer. More than 40% of SMEs that have introduced an eco-innovation in the past two years said the investment had reduced material use by up to 20% per unit of output.

The poll also shows that most European SMEs see limited access to materials as an important driver for eco-innovation.

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