SMEs are often unaware of the cost savings resulting from sustainable manufacturing or resource efficiency practices in general. This is particularly the case in manufacturing where resource use is intensive.
PIUS®–Check provides North-Rhine Westphalian producing companies the opportunity to become more resource-efficient and cost-effective by adopting tailored resource efficiency measures. A team of consultant engineers provide tailored training to reduce the use of natural resources, minimise production costs as well as emissions and scrap, and improve productivity. In total, the EFA has currently 26 staff members working in six regional offices. The regional Ministry of Environment founded the initiative in 1998.
Consultant engineers assess an individual firm from between 10 to 30 days, and three to four months later provide tailored guidelines. The total costs of an audit are between €10–15,000. Up to half of these costs can be covered by national and regional funding programmes in Germany.
EFA additionally provides advice to firms on how to finance the investments (PIUS®-Finanzierung). This includes information on national or regional programmes that are providing financing, or establishment contact with banks offering interesting loans. About 80% of the financing applications handled through PIUS® are successful.
The following is an example of the traditional brewery “The Little Fox” in Düsseldorf's Old Town with over 100 staff. In 2009, the SME planned to reduce sewage water, detergents, and the beer attrition rate (what gets lost during brewing and bottling processes). With EFA support, the brewery analysed its efficiency potential by means of the Eco-Efficiency Check “Artisanry” (one of EFA’s other tools) and the PIUS® -Check, and implemented an innovative Clean-in-Place (CIP) system.
Since its start in 2000, over 550 PIUS®–Checks were carried out, out of which over 250 projects have been implemented. The total investment costs calculated across all companies amount to over €40.2m, with yearly cost savings of €13.2m in total. This means the companies that have realised PIUS®–Check measures save €50,000 per year, on average. To give two resource-specific examples, the yearly water saving average amounts to 1.3m m3, while the annual energy saving is around 63 GWh for the more than 250 firms.
With PIUS®–Check, EFA offers support to business and a consolidated and tested instrument that contributes to a green economy. Strictly speaking PIUS®–Check is not a public policy measure, but a business model of the EFA (which is an agency partly funded by regional authorities), that acts as an intermediary between SMEs and the German government’s funding programmes, as well as the private sector (e.g. banks). Other German lander (such as Baden-Württemberg, Hesse or Rhineland-Palatinate) have already adopted some of the resource efficiency activities of the EFA. The concept can be readily adjusted to any geographical area. It is therefore estimated to be 9 on the GML scale.