A report by the BMF to establish the current state of sustainability in the building materials sector has revealed a disparity between the BMF’s supplier and merchant members.
It found that 78% of suppliers place sustainability in the top three priorities for their business, and are leveraging it as a strategic growth driver, only 45% of merchants currently afford it the same high priority.
John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “The BMF Sustainability Forum and the BMF Sustainability Working Group are two practical ways in which we are supporting members, wherever they are on their journey. The BMF’s supply chain collaboration will become increasingly essential for creating industry wide standards, best practice, information, training, forums and marketing materials.”
The research revealed that merchants are adopting a “wait and see” approach, the biggest barrier for many is their belief that price-sensitive customers are unwilling to pay more for sustainable products.
The BMF explained that its members believe their customers would not pay more than a 5% premium, though this varies by product category. Merchants also cite low customer awareness of the need for sustainable materials and a lack of clarity as to what makes a product more sustainable.
The researched show that company size also has a bearing, with the importance of sustainability increasing as turnover rises. Around 50% of those with a turnover of under £100m place sustainability within their top 3 priorities. This rises to 75% for companies with a turnover of £100m-£250m and 90% for those over £250m.
Giles Bradford, chair of the BMF Sustainability Forum and Sustainability Working Group and head of sustainability at Bradfords Building Supplies, said: “The BMF launched this working group nine months ago and the research and accompanying report is one of our first major outputs.
The research was carried out to create a baseline to measure progress towards the BMF’s goal of accelerating the adoption of more sustainable building materials as well as identifying the barriers preventing it. We plan to evaluate progress by repeating the survey annually with a larger cross section of the sector each year.”
The research, which was conducted by the BMF’s research and strategy partners CMDi, revealed that members are also looking to the BMF both to help promote greater awareness and understanding for merchants and their customer groups, and for shared industry approaches to sustainability.