Is it worth investing time and money in resource efficiency measures?

Is it worth investing time and money in resource efficiency measures?

I certainly think so and it seems the Government agrees too.

In the new Industrial Strategy consultation, Government asks how it can support businesses in realising cost savings through greater resource and energy efficiency. The Government understands that making resource savings doesn’t just bring with it environmental benefits, but social and economic benefits too.

Of course, most small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) are only too aware of the pressures of rising resource and energy costs. Running my own business, I know we face these issues all the time. Let’s take for example those businesses facing rising costs of imported materials as the value of the pound reacts to uncertainty over the decision to leave the EU. Some businesses are also concerned about how they can reduce their environmental impact – both out of genuine concern for the environment and as a result of supply chain pressures.

At Crompton Controls and Mouldings, the manufacturing companies I run, we’ve taken every opportunity to reduce waste and actively searched out projects that not only reduce our carbon footprint and help the environment but also support the finances of the business by reducing its costs and improving its productivity.

Our top 10 examples include:

  1. Designed, developed and installed a new energy efficient Moulding machine, which has increased production rates and reduced heat requirements.
  2. Refurbished ovens to reduce heat loss during operation.
  3. Installed variable speed drives reducing energy requirement substantially.
  4. Retrofitted all our wash rooms with water saving Drenched technology volumisers saving 95% yes 95% of basin water usage.
  5. Purchased an industrial shredder which now allows us to utilise all waste cardboard as packing filler in our packaged components.
  6. Installed LED lighting.
  7. Reduced fuel consumption by agreeing with customers fewer deliveries of higher volume.
  8. Developed a policy of recycling every aspect of our plastic waste which is then processed and returned to us as usable material.
  9. Purchased machinery to compact our non-recycled waste, which consequently means we can fill our skips with almost 5 times as much rubbish before requiring emptying.
  10. Fitted our offices with BMS Heat controlling systems to optimise temperatures.

These actions have contributed over the past 2 years to reducing our gas consumption by over a third, reducing electricity consumption by approximately 20%, water consumption by almost 50%, packaging costs by around 35%, and transportation costs by a minimum of 14%. Waste reducing measures have not only contributed to our green credentials but added significantly to our profitability allowing us to invest further into the businesses and expand.

Unfortunately, time and knowledge of where to start are often a barrier to tackling these types of issues but I can say only item 1 required specialist knowledge.

That’s why I have been working with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) to develop a new Resource Efficiency Fund for local SMEs, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Leeds City Region Growth Deal. Launched this week, businesses will benefit from advisers who can offer expert technical advice on the best ways to reduce resource use and costs. This will help those businesses that struggle to know where to start or who to turn to for help, and save them time in having to research themselves how to become more efficient. This might include a series of very low cost initiatives or actions that businesses can take to make immediate savings, for example running staff awareness sessions, analysing transportation, reviewing heating schedules and controls, or setting up monitoring schedules to detect compressed air leaks.

Once businesses have realised where they can make savings, grant support may be available from the LEP to help invest in the measures that can make a real difference. Potential 50% match funding is available through the Fund of up to £10,000 towards implementing capital projects that reduce environmental impacts and save them money.

Investing in resource efficiency helps the environment, for example by reducing carbon emissions and the use of scarce resources, or by preventing waste. However, it also brings economic benefits to businesses by saving money that can be used to invest in staff skills or business growth, and social benefits by improving the quality of the work environment for employees.

So is it worth a smaller business investing in resource efficiency? With the support on offer from the LEP, and a recent report highlighting the major benefits to both businesses and the wider economy of moving to more resource efficient business models , maybe the question should be can a smaller business afford not to invest in resource efficiency?

My suggestion would be to get in touch with the LEP Business Growth Service on 0113 348 1818 to find out more.