Waste management, wastewater treatment: the industrial sector faces climate challenges

More and more companies are taking the climate impact of their activities into account. While the latest IPCC report is persistent about the urgent need to take action to protect the environment and biodiversity, what about manufacturers’ involvement in this area? A survey by IFS, a global business software publisher, conducted in collaboration with the consultancy Omdia, is precisely questioning the industrial sector’s positioning in sustainable development and energy. What lessons can be drawn from this research? Answer.

The survey was conducted among 117 manufacturers (food and beverage, electronics and medical equipment, chemicals, manufacturing and manufacturing…) located in the Americas, North America and Europe. First of all, an observation: industry weighs heavily on greenhouse gas emissions. ISF recalls in its report that:in 2020, the industrial sector was responsible for 35 billion tons of CO2 emissions† Less than 10% of this industry’s energy consumption comes from renewable energy sources. Much is therefore at stake for this sector, which must accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly model without delay.

What drives manufacturers to reduce their CO2 impact?

Government policy is of great help in this regard. ISF does indeed notice several reasons to encourage manufacturers to invest in a sustainable model

  • the obligation to comply with a regulation,
  • the risk that profits will fall,
  • financial and tax benefits.

Other way around, the obstacles to such change to be :

  • a diffuse and non-centralized responsibility,
  • the lack of dedicated organization,
  • the infrastructure inherited from the past,
  • the high perceived cost of such an investment.

In short, as you can see, manufacturers’ motivations remain programmatic, as do the obstacles they face. Such as these SMEs that, despite themselves, turn out to be bad students, for lack of resources to activate their transition or because the essence of their main activity involves a greater CO2 impact © than average.

Measures taken by manufacturers

Despite the hurdles, however, manufacturers do not dwell on the climate crisis. If there is still a lot of work to be done on their side, 43% of the structures surveyed in the survey indicate a waste and wastewater treatment process† 4 out of 10 companies also applied tracking and reducing carbon emissions throughout their supply chain

To read on the same topic: How big companies can help their suppliers reduce their emissions.

Finally, 38% of them also have a monitoring and reducing carbon emissions for their other activities

Although the challenges are great and much work remains to be done, the industrialists surveyed foresee actions in the near future of 1 to 3 years and after three years: setting up a sustainable business model (for almost 6 in 10 companies), or creating more sustainable packaging (28%).

Towards the generalization of a circular economy?

Despite these promises, especially in Europe, we are still a long way from a strongly anchored circular economy. According to the ISF study:

  • 12% of respondents say that circular economy initiatives have already been implemented and that this is a priority for their business;
  • 80% is developing, testing or completing projects for the circular economy.
  • 18% of North American industry executives surveyed consider the circular economy a priority, compared to just 7% in Europe.

However, in addition to reducing CO2 emissions, the circular economy can have many consequences for manufacturers: energy savings but also greater consumer involvement. It only remains to convince the most important companies involved to accelerate their transition.

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