Measuring Progress: Key Performance Indicators for Tracking Net Zero Goals in Manufacturing

Achieving net zero emissions is a critical goal for the manufacturing sector, one of the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions. As industries pivot towards sustainable practices, the need to measure and track progress becomes paramount. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are vital in this journey, providing measurable metrics that guide and inform strategic decisions. This blog will explore essential KPIs for tracking net zero goals in the manufacturing sector.

  1. Carbon Emissions Reduction: The most direct KPI for measuring progress towards net zero is the reduction in carbon emissions. This can be tracked in several ways:
  • Total Carbon Emissions: Measuring the total CO2 emitted by manufacturing operations.
  • Emission Intensity: Emissions per unit of output, such as CO2 per tonne of product produced, provide a relative measure for production scale.
  1. Energy Efficiency: Improving energy efficiency is critical for reducing carbon footprints. KPIs in this area include:
  • Energy Consumption per Unit of Output: Monitoring the amount of energy used to produce each product unit.
  • Energy Mix: The proportion of energy derived from renewable sources versus fossil fuels.
  1. Renewable Energy Usage: Transitioning to renewable energy sources is essential for achieving net zero. Relevant KPIs are:
  • Percentage of Renewable Energy: The share of total energy consumption sourced from renewables.
  • Renewable Energy Capacity: Installed renewable energy generation capacity within the manufacturing facilities.
  1. Waste Management: Effective waste management reduces the environmental impact and supports circular economy principles. Key KPIs include:
  • Waste to Landfill: The amount of waste sent to landfill sites.
  • Recycling Rate: The percentage of waste that is recycled or repurposed.
  • Waste Reduction: Total reduction in waste produced, measured in absolute terms or per output unit.
  1. Water Usage: Water is a crucial resource in manufacturing, and its efficient use is a vital KPI:
  • Water Consumption per Unit of Output: Tracking the volume of water used per production unit.
  • Water Recycling Rate: The proportion of treated and reused water within the manufacturing process.
  1. Supply Chain Sustainability: The sustainability of the supply chain significantly impacts overall emissions. Key KPIs include:
  • Supplier Emissions: Emissions associated with the supply chain, often measured through supplier reporting.
  • Sustainable Sourcing: The percentage of materials sourced from sustainable or certified sources.
  1. Employee Engagement and Training: Achieving net zero requires the commitment and participation of all employees. KPIs in this area might include:
  • Training Participation: The percentage of employees trained in sustainability practices.
  • Employee Engagement in Sustainability Initiatives: Measured through surveys or participation rates in green programs.
  1. Innovation and R&D Investment: Investment in research and development for new technologies and processes is crucial for long-term sustainability. KPIs here include:
  • R&D Spending on Sustainability: The proportion of R&D budget allocated to sustainability projects.
  • Number of Sustainability Innovations Implemented: Tracking the introduction of new, sustainable technologies or processes.
  1. Regulatory Compliance: Adherence to environmental regulations is a basic requirement for sustainability:
  • Compliance Rate: The percentage of operations in compliance with local and international environmental regulations.
  • Number of Environmental Violations: Incidents of non-compliance or violations of environmental laws.
  1. Financial Performance Related to Sustainability: Finally, the financial implications of sustainability efforts should be measured:
  • Cost Savings from Efficiency Measures: Financial savings achieved through energy efficiency, waste reduction, and other measures.
  • Revenue from Sustainable Products: Income generated from products that meet sustainability criteria.


Tracking progress towards net zero in manufacturing requires a comprehensive set of KPIs that cover all aspects of operations, from emissions and energy use to supply chain and employee engagement. By regularly monitoring these KPIs, manufacturers can ensure they are on the right path to achieving their sustainability goals, making informed decisions that drive continuous improvement. The journey to net zero is complex and challenging, but with the right metrics in place, it is achievable and beneficial for both the environment and the bottom line.

SWITCH-On Skills is funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Find out more about SWITCH On Skills here: