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Manufacturers struggling to ‘demystify’ their carbon data

Manufacturing accounts for two fifths of the UK’s carbon emissions, but firms are struggling to properly track their emissions and are losing vital information due to a lack of common standards.


Recent research shows that the manufacturing sector is beginning to make headway towards net zero carbon emissions, with 8 in 10 UK manufacturers citing ‘decarbonisation’ as a business priority. However, the majority of manufacturers also admit they do not have enough knowledge about their own carbon footprint.

According to the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC), a universal methodology for measuring and reporting carbon footprints across industry is now needed to help manufacturers properly understand their impact and track progress.

In particular, HVMC says there is a problem with tracking so-called ‘Scope 3’ emissions – the part of a company’s carbon footprint that covers the emissions it is indirectly responsible for in the supply chain, such as raw material extraction or transport and distribution. Scope 3 emissions are by far the biggest part of the average manufacturer’s carbon footprint.

Without tighter guidance and a common reporting standard for these emissions, HVMC believes there is no clear way of knowing where the manufacturing industry stands in terms of working towards and meeting net zero targets.

The organisation’s Chief Executive, Katherine Bennett, explained:

“Tracking carbon emissions is now an integral part of a company’s annual audit. Yet, a myriad of different carbon accounting standards and methodologies are used, meaning that the data is rendered almost useless when combined across the manufacturing sector.

“Given the energy intensive nature of manufacturing, this lack of common data makes tracking overall emissions reductions almost impossible and vital information can be obscured or lost. This risks completely undermining the UK’s drive to net zero. We would be delighted to work with relevant government departments, such as BEIS, to address this shortfall and jointly develop these universal standards.”

In its research, HVMC also concluded that SME manufacturers require additional assistance to help ‘demystify’ the often confusing world of carbon accounting.

Manufacturers that are new to this concept are encouraged to join the next cohort of our fully-funded Journey to Net Zero programme. The seven-part course covers how to conduct a full carbon footprint assessment, as well as how to improve operations, build competitive advantage and implement a net zero strategy.

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