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How can manufacturing be sustainable: Five 2023 examples


Strategic Allies Ltd has seen a big change in the last four to five years in terms of the focus of our clients’ challenges when it comes to making manufacturing more sustainable. Sustainability in manufacturing was always on the agenda but it wasn’t a top priority until recently.

Today, 70% of our searches, across all sectors, are directly focused on making manufacturing sustainable. Moreover, even in the other 30% of cases, sustainability when it comes to manufacturing is a crucial hygiene factor. All the solutions we uncover and present have to be compliant with the client’s ESG strategy.

A more emergent development has been the increasing focus upon the circular economy and circularity.  Similar to sustainability, certainly complementary but subtly different, circularity can be even more challenging for manufacturers now they are responsible for the “whole life” of their products, including their eventual recycling. In today’s global economy, how do clients know where their products are so they can be “returned” to be recycled? When they know where they are, what are the logistics of returning them and are the ‘miles’ associated with that return defendable? The balancing approaches of design for recycling, retaining product ownership and product life extension are all well documented but are often associated with complex implementation.

The Circularity Matrix below (as published in the HBR) is one way of analysing and then deciding on an appropriate approach regarding the circularity options for your current and future products.

So, how can manufacturers engage in more sustainable practices in the future?


The path to sustainable manufacturing

Whether you believe the refocusing is due to global consumer pressure or emerging national legislation the fact is that across all manufacturing sectors, the largest companies are now committed and firmly on their journey to delivering sustainable manufacturing processes. At Strategic Allies Ltd we sponsor and attend many sustainability workshops aimed at large blue-chip manufacturers around the world and the committed attendance is now apparent and consistent.

It certainly isn’t an easy road though and most of the companies are still in the early days of developing their manufacturing sustainability capability, credentials, and internal skills to deliver them. Seeking solutions and opportunities outside of their core corporate competencies, the more innovative of these companies are relying heavily upon external scouting skills.

These skills, developed over many years within the team at Strategic Allies Ltd, are both ideally suited and familiar with this type of non-linear challenge. So far in 2023 Strategic Allies Ltd has delivered numerous sustainability focuses projects including:




The journey to sustainability in manufacturing can be a tortuous path but with help, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience rather than a daunting one. With the new financial year just about to begin, is it now time to start the journey to sustainable manufacturing and take the first steps with an experienced guide?

Take a look at our other case studies for inspiration or if you are ready to discuss and explore the possible, please contact John Allies at john@strategicallies.co.uk for an initial conversation.