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Focus On

Tackling the Energy Crisis

The energy crisis is well and truly upon us, with businesses small and large feeling the effects. Stephen Jones looks at some ways to tackle rising energy costs and what support is available

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Positive Energy

The print industry is facing the stark reality of the energy crisis. This impact on the global economy is affecting many businesses, with rising energy costs and material prices posing a threat to everybody, from small family-run printing agencies to worldwide players.

From the war in Ukraine, government budget cuts, and supply disruption – factories and family homes have all seen a sharp increase in their respective energy bills. There aren’t enough Martin Lewis tips and tricks in the world to make this type of situation just go away. But if tackled correctly, then a business can certainly look to defeat rising energy prices by being logical and astute to the support available.

The energy crisis has no doubt contributed to the expensive increase on the price of paper, with the print industry needing to get smarter if it wants to keep up with costs and stay in control of energy consumption.

The energy crisis has contributed  to the increase on the price of paper as mills have been affected

You might be thinking, what can your business do to make such a quick turnaround; especially when it’s facing different challenges on a daily basis.

Operating in a more streamlined way, focusing on being more mindful of energy usage, or even simple things such as installing office smart meters can go a long way towards making a positive step when it comes to managing energy.

A helping hand

Acting as a helpful tool for many businesses in the print industry, Compass Business Finance (Compass) wants to see its customers thrive as it creates solutions that are bespoke to your business.

Mark Nelson, one of three directors of Compass Business Finance which helps businesses with financial solutions

Compass is aware of just how rapidly changing the print and packaging sector can be, with its team of specialists using vast experience in the industry to help companies secure funding for when they need it most.

In September 2022, the company created a practical guide that was ideal for helping businesses mitigate the energy crisis. It’s full of great information and resources that aim to keep you on top of energy use with the hope that you can build a greener culture around the office space or on the factory floor.

The energy crisis is backing businesses into a corner, with many expected to take direct action to mitigate rising costs. Companies must also face other challenges such as supply chain issues and logistical problems brought on by the recent strikes.

The help guide that Compass has created can be a savvy tool for your business. In the guide, Compass says: “The world economy has suffered many an energy crisis before, with the usual culprits (as today) being war, fuel shortages, and market pressures or manipulation. Today, the UK may be less exposed than its European counterparts, with some countries, such as Germany facing energy rationing, however, despite the government’s short-term support plans, businesses are facing considerable uncertainty.”

Mainly these uncertain feelings are due to the hike in energy prices. Previously a business would pay 10 to 12p per kWh for electricity. But according to feedback from the market, they are now facing anything between 70p to £1 per kWh.

The Manufacturers’ Association, Make UK, recently did a study that reported how the energy crisis is forcing manufacturers to limit production or completely cease altogether. Stephen Phipson, chief executive officer at Make UK, says: “As energy bills spiral out of control, manufacturers are working tirelessly to find ways to reduce consumption, putting in place as much as they can afford in terms of building improvements and installing renewable sources of energy.”

As energy bills spiral out of control, manufacturers are working tirelessly to find ways to reduce consumption, putting in place as much as they can afford in terms of building improvements and installing renewable sources of energy

The study found that around half of the 200 companies surveyed have had their electricity bills increased by more than 100% in the past year. Perhaps a silver lining to the situation is that 58% of those who responded are looking to reduce their energy consumption by using better insulation or looking to produce their own energy, which is a step in the right direction when it comes to creating a greener future for your business and the planet.

Compass says: “Now is the time to review manufacturing processes whilst temporary energy caps, preferable tax incentives, and financial support schemes are available. Suppliers of equipment have shown considerable interest in working with customers to assess what changes could be made and we’re seeing an increase in solutions that put the long-term survival of the business at the heart of the buying process.”

For more information on financial support and to view the Compass Business Finance Mitigating the Energy Crisis guide, you can visit the Compass Business Finance website.

Residual energy

The Printing Charity was founded as the Printers’ Pension Society in 1827 to support people working in print and their families. Since then, the sector has broadened, and the Charity now helps people working in the packaging, paper, publishing, and graphics industries. In turn, the type of services they provide has also changed, but the purpose hasn’t.

O Factoid: With a history stretching back almost 200 years, The Printing Charity is one of the oldest benevolent charities in the UK O

Neil Lovell, chief executive officer of The Printing Charity, says: “Our practical and emotional support is directed at the people who work or have worked in our sector. We have a wide range of services available, from budget management and debt advice to direct welfare grants and access to 24/7 counselling.”

He continues: “Our priority and focus are the people working in the print, paper, packaging, and publishing sector, and our intent is that the services we offer will help get them through the difficulties caused as a result of the energy crisis.

“There’s a great deal of uncertainty for people right now, and although we can’t know when people will need help, we do want to make sure we can be there for them when they do. So the priority for us is to raise awareness of the practical and emotional support we offer as widely as possible, so people know where to turn when they need it.”

Something Lovell highlights is that The Printing Charity wants to hear from more companies and is always available to share information about the resources they have available.

“The print industry is resilient and innovative, and that’s thanks to the brilliant people working within it,” he says, adding: “It’s important not to lose sight of this, despite the challenges of the current macro environment. By continuing to invest in, and look after the people working in our industry during this difficult time, we can ensure that we retain the skills and experience necessary to maintain existing sustainable practices and grow and evolve the industry in a sustainable and responsible way.”

The energy crisis threatens many print services. From advertising, food packaging solutions, and even magazine production, almost every sector of print has been impacted.

Take Sappi Europe, for example, which announced a 6-9% increase in prices for all of its coated mechanical reel products in September 2022. Sappi says the rise is due to an increase in high costs and volatility in raw materials, energy and transportation. This a sector-wide occurrence. Unfortunately, this means it doesn’t look like the price of paper will be decreasing anytime soon.

A greener picture

That being said, your business does have options, and you’ll find that often the best thing you can do is shop around for the most energy-efficient equipment. This is when you’ll start to see a difference in energy consumption, and this is something DTM Print has done with its products.