Manufacturing and production

Your UK Business Climate Hub net zero plan for the manufacturing and production sector.

To achieve net-zero emissions in the manufacturing and production sector, you can take several actions such as investing in energy-efficient machinery, optimising your supply chain to reduce waste, and using renewable energy sources. Additionally, you can encourage employees to adopt sustainable practices, such as using public transportation, reducing single-use plastics, and promoting sustainable manufacturing processes.

By reducing your carbon emissions, you can demonstrate your commitment to sustainability, save on energy costs and improve your brand reputation.


  1. Understand your business emissions
  2. Get finance and support
  3. Actions you can take right now
  4. Longer term actions
  5. Indirect emissions
  6. Share your progress

Understand your business emissions

1) What causes emissions

Direct carbon emissions produced by manufacturing and production include:

  • energy use – electricity and gas for lighting, heating and machinery
  • general waste – when it is not recycled and ends up at landfill sites
  • transport – using petrol or diesel vehicles to deliver products

2) Calculate your emissions

Use a free carbon calculator to work out your business’s carbon footprint. This is measured in tonnes, over a year.

3) Estimate the cost of your emissions

Once you have your carbon footprint, you can calculate how much your emissions are costing you. This will give you an idea of potential savings you can make by taking action.

4) Sign up to the SME climate commitment

Make a climate declaration to show customers you are committed to reducing emissions.

Get finance and support

1) Get help and advice from the following organisations:

You can get guidance on energy efficiency from the Manufacturers’ Organisation (MAKE uk) and the Confederation of British Industry.

Visit MAKEuk to download their manufacturing net zero roadmap (PDF)

You can also learn how to run your business in a more environmentally friendly way by hiring a sustainability consultant.

2) Get financial support

Funding for digital technology is available from UK research and Innovation (UKRI), as part of the national Made Smarter movement.

Actions you can take right now

1) Save energy at your office and work buildings

Quick low-cost actions include:

  • lighting – use LED bulbs for greater efficiency
  • heating – put your thermostat on a timer and seal your windows for extra insulation
  • office equipment – try to turn off and unplug devices when they’re not being used

2) Do an energy walk-round

Walk around your buildings and see where energy is being used.

Prepare a checklist

Look out for wasteful energy use and maintenance issues in the following areas:

  1. Look at lighting, heating and refrigeration systems, as well as ventilation and water heating.
  2. Identify wasteful energy use and maintenance issues.
  3. Check at different times of day and compare day and night time use.
  4. Monitor over a period of a week for accurate average figures.
  5. Make sure equipment is checked and cleaned regularly to ensure maximum efficiency.

Improve ventilation

Routine maintenance checks and cleaning will improve the efficiency of your ventilation system.

3) Decide if you need an energy strategy

Depending on the size of your business, you might need to implement an energy management strategy. An energy manager will help you:

  1. Measure and monitor energy use.
  2. Target ways to use energy as efficiently as possible.

Find out more from the Carbon Trust.

4) Change your energy tariff

Switch to a green energy tariff with your energy supplier. This will reduce your reliance on energy produced by fossil fuels.

5) Switch to a smart meter

This will allow you to see and control how much energy you use. Find out more about smart meters.

6) Manage your waste

Recycle waste to prevent it being taken to landfill sites where it takes longer to break down and causes more emissions.

7) Get training in energy efficiency

You can train your team to be aware of energy efficiency in the workplace. Find a sustainability course.


Longer term actions

1) Make changes to your factory or workplace

You can take a number of long-term measures to improve energy efficiency at your work buildings.

Check planning permissions guidelines before you go ahead with any structural changes.

Improve insulation and windows

You can make long-term savings on energy bills by insulating buildings and replacing old windows.

Install renewables

You might also consider installing renewable sources of energy on your land.

For example:

By doing so, you could make significant long-term savings on energy bills.

Heat recovery systems

Waste heat from industrial processes can be converted into energy. Find out more about heat recovery systems.

Learn how to cut costs and carbon emissions from process heating.

2) Make your compressed air system more efficient

You can do this by:

  • reducing compressor pressure
  • identifying and fixing leaks
  • recovering lost heat and using it for space heating

Find out more about efficient use of compressed air systems

3) Use smart technology

This will help you improve productivity and efficiency. Options include:

  • robotics – automated production ensures greater precision and use of assets
  • 3D printing – helps efficient use of materials, extending life cycle of parts
  • digital twin technology – creates digital replicas of assets to avoid producing waste
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) – uses predictive analysis to optimize productivity and predict inconsistencies

Find out more about smart technology for manufacturing

4) Install high efficiency motors

Electric motor-driven systems often use more power than they need to. Find out how to reduce energy use with high efficiency motors and variable speed drives. 

Learn more about how to optimise motors.

5) Remanufacture

Rebuilding goods out of used materials is common practice in the automotive, energy, aerospace and rail industries.

By restoring end-of-life goods to working order, you can keep the cost of raw materials, energy and water to a minimum. You’ll also have less waste to dispose of.

Find out more from the Scottish Remanufacturing Institute, wherever you are in the UK.

6) Use sustainable product packaging

Replace plastic with recycled or compostable substitutes.

Types of sustainable packing include:

  • plant-based packaging
  • edible packaging – made from seaweed extract
  • compostable and biodegradable plastic alternatives
  • plantable packaging – which is made from seeds and can be buried in soil

Find sustainable packaging companies

7) Reduce transport emissions

Over a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions are caused by transport.

You can take measures to reduce emissions from logistics.

If you have employees you could introduce a cycle-to-work initiative or encourage them to take public transport.

Visit our page on switching employee mode of transport for guidance.

Electric vehicles

If you use a work vehicle, you can reduce emissions by switching over to an electric vehicle (EV). You would be exempt from road tax, congestion charges and parking fees in certain areas.

For easy overnight charging you could install EV chargers at your home or workplace.

Visit our page to find out more about installing chargepoints.

Indirect emissions

To reduce indirect or ‘supply chain’ emissions you need to consider what happens before and after your business provides a service or makes a product.

1) Choose greener ‘upstream’ suppliers and products

  • use suppliers that measure and reduce carbon
  • help your suppliers with carbon reduction projects
  • buy products that take less energy to make, transport and operate

Find out more about how to source products and services from green suppliers.

2) Reduce emissions ‘downstream’ of your business

  • make products that take less energy to make, transport and operate
  • reduce water consumption and waste disposal needs
  • make investments in lower carbon financial products
  • give incentives for lower emission activities in leased assets or franchises

3) Certify your supply chain action

PAS 2060 is the internationally applicable specification to demonstrate carbon neutrality.

PAS 2060 certification can enhance your business’s performance and resilience and demonstrate your commitment to sustainability in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The standard process for PAS 2060 certification includes these steps:

  1. Assessment of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) based on accurate measurement data.
  2. Reduction of emissions through a target-driven carbon management plan.
  3. Documentation and verification through qualifying explanatory statements and public disclosure.

Through independent British Standards Institution (BSI) verification for PAS 2060, your business can demonstrate that it has met these requirements.

Search on Google for organisations that provide PAS 2060 verification.

Share your progress

Sharing your progress will help employees and customers feel confident that you’re reducing carbon and moving towards net zero.

You should share your progress once you’ve done both of the following:

  • worked out a benchmark of emissions
  • started to take action

Find out more about how to track and share your progress.