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Creating sustainable solutions for the future – National Engineering Day 2023

Published: 01/11/2023

This year, as we celebrate National Engineering Day, we recognise the work of engineers and their significant role in improving our daily lives and reducing our impact on the planet. Their expertise and activities in enhancing the welfare, health and safety of society enables them to provide options and solutions. These in turn maximise social value and minimise environmental impact, taking into account social, ethical, environmental and economic challenges.

Sustainable development in engineering impacts various aspects of our lives, including water supply, waste management, pollution reduction, food production, energy consumption, transportation and natural environment restoration. Many engineers and technicians working within these areas incorporate sustainability into their designs and projects to create innovative solutions for a greener future.

Managing and maintaining sustainable packaging practices is an integral part of helping to reduce waste. Mamta Singhal MBE BEng (Hons) MSc MBA CEng MIET FWES works in a Global team at Diageo Plc which focuses on packaging sustainability solutions. She sees this as an important area, where engineers “hold the key to overcoming some of the major sustainability challenges”. She is fascinated by materials and packaging from a technical point of view. “Understanding the full supply chain including how it is made to how it will be recycled or disposed of. Packaging is a very exciting area for engineers as the materials are changing and all products have some form of packaging. Moreover, I like understanding the ‘why’ behind packaging and questioning how things can be improved.”

Emma Burns CEng MCIHT was inspired to become an engineer after gaining insight from her father who was a was a hydraulic and commissioning engineer. After working on the 2G contract in Scotland, she became “fascinated by the variety of skills and different aspects that were involved in engineering”. She is the UK Operations Manager at Undo Carbon Ltd, which spreads enhanced weathering fines (finely ground volcanic rock) on agreed areas of land to help capture carbon and improves soil health. “Unlike planting a tree, the weathering of the fines transfers atmospheric carbon from the biological cycle into the geological cycle, where the carbon will be removed from the atmosphere for thousands of years.”

To support engineers and technicians achieve sustainable development through engineering, the Engineering Council’s Guidance on Sustainability highlights the importance of considering sustainability from the start, and outlines six key principles which support professional engineers and technicians when making decisions for clients, employers and society that affect sustainability.

The six guiding principles are:

1.  Contribute to building a sustainable society, present and future
2.  Apply professional and responsible judgement and take a leadership role
3.  Do more than just comply with legislation and codes: be prepared to challenge the status quo
4.  Use resources efficiently and effectively
5.  Seek multiple views to solve sustainability challenges
6.  Manage risk to minimise adverse impact and maximise benefit to people and the environment

The guidance helps engineers and technicians to meet their professional obligations and is a valuable resource that complements information provided by professional engineering institutions (PEIs), including codes of conduct, policy statements and technical guidance.