On the journey to a net zero future, under the UN Climate Change Framework, manufacturers consider the potential environmental benefits of design, the raw materials used and overall manufacturing efficiency. AMDEA Members understand, with their products residing in almost 28 million homes across the UK, that they have a unique responsibility. By vigorously pursuing sustainability goals – setting emissions targets for manufacturing sites or sourcing recyclable materials – they can make significant reductions in global warming.
Sustainability is at the forefront of modern domestic appliance design, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of new appliances, improve their energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions. AMDEA members spend a large percentage of their R&D budgets on sustainable product development.
Since 2010, energy-consuming products have complied with The Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products Regulations. The sector has consistently sought to exceed the Regulation’s standards which underpin energy conservation and high performance.
In 2021, new energy labels were introduced, prompted by vast improvements in energy saving technology, which had raised most large appliances to the top of the rating scale. The labels included rescaled ratings and other eco-improvements.
To provide sustainable modern living for its customers and to align more closely with the circular economy, the industry has increased the use in appliances of recyclable metals and plastics. In recent years, end-of-life recycling and material recovery has been a regulatory requirement, financed by the industry and driven by the Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations introduced in 2013. The sector historically recycled metal, thanks to its inherent economic value. In the last decade many manufacturers have taken recycling further by upping the use of recyclable, reusable or compostable plastics. Major efforts are under way to use plastics of the same type in an appliance to facilitate recycling. Some manufacturers are also developing ingenious ways to use recycled materials, especially plastics, upcycling an array of waste products to create appliances of the future.
Another major focus for materials is tackling the amount and type of packaging used during transportation. Some manufacturers have achieved 100% recyclable packaging, and all are developing ways of removing polystyrene and other plastics and ensuring these are replaced with recyclable materials.
AMDEA Members have been prioritising the ‘behind the scenes’ environmental impact of their manufacturing processes for decades. The last 10 years alone has seen an overall 12% reduction in waste, 17% reduction in energy and 61% reduction in water.
Manufacturers have revolutionised their production sites to progressively reduce the impact of their processes. Among other methods, many manufacturers solely use green energy or electricity from sustainable sources, sites are successfully adopting ‘zero waste to landfill’ policies and reusing process water.
Industry is consuming less in production
Over the last 10 years alone we have seen the following reductions during the production process
Our members always go beyond any regulations in place to improve the packaging they use. This applies to materials being supplied to factories as well as the finished products as they arrive in homes across the UK.
Manufacturers are striving to not only reduce the amount of packaging, while keeping products safe, but also using environmentally friendly and more efficient packaging whenever possible. At manufacturing plants, great reductions have already been made in cutting back on packaging waste generated. For finished products, polystyrene is being phased out – some have already ended its use entirely – and replaced by cardboard, often 100% recycled or recyclable. Some manufacturers are even recycling packaging into components usable in products. Members are also fully compliant with new government regulations for packaging which came into effect on January 2023. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) means manufacturers must keep and supply data on packaging and its recycling and then pay a waste management fee.
As transport in all its forms accounts for about 22% of global CO2 emissions, the appliance industry puts great store on its efforts to minimise effects from the movement of goods relating to manufacture. Raw materials must, however, be brought to factories and completed appliances need to be moved to reach retailers and customers.
Consequently, transport logistics is another area which the industry has been focussing on to make sustainability changes. Manufacturers have, for example, been successful in reducing the amount of road transport, opting instead for rail and sea routes and with some reporting almost 90% of international freight going by sea. Others have deployed specialist programmes which optimise freight movements for space.
Manufacturers go much further than just looking at the transport of goods going in and out of the factory. They work with their supply chain suppliers to influence their transport choices, make changes to vehicles used on site to lessen CO2 emissions, supply hybrid vehicles to service engineers or support staff and encourage employees to use environmentally friendly ways to get to work by subsidising public transport costs of and supplying charging points for cars and bicycles.