For several years now, the impact of the manufacturing industry on the environment has been under scrutiny. Aside from its high energy requirements, the raw materials used, packaging, and waste generated have certain ecological impacts.
While some businesses have taken concrete steps to make their manufacturing facilities and processes sustainable, others end up putting their sustainability goals on the back burner.
Of course, attempting to make wholesale changes for the sake of sustainability can be daunting – which is precisely why some manufacturers are not able to stay on the sustainability track. However, you can always start small and introduce gradual changes to have greener operations. In fact, you just might be surprised how these tiny modifications can have immediate positive impacts on your business.
So, if your manufacturing business is currently struggling to stay on the sustainability track, here’s some helpful information and advice on steps you can take to achieve your goal of going green.
Key Benefits of Sustainable Manufacturing Practices
Before taking you through the steps of becoming a sustainable manufacturer, it would help for you to know how your company can benefit from implementing eco-friendly practices.
1. Cost savings
Companies that are focused on advancing their sustainability goals can reduce their operational expenses considerably, which can then impact their profitability.
You can lower the costs of running your business by embracing sustainable manufacturing strategies. Examples of these include the following:
- Utilising renewable energy resources instead of relying on expensive fossil fuels
- Adopting smart manufacturing technologies that will not only efficiently regulate energy consumption but also reduce wastage and ensure safety and productivity in your facilities
- Buying raw materials from local producers or suppliers
Depending on the country where you operate, you might even qualify for a reduction in environmental taxes or benefit from green taxation schemes.
2. Better company image and profitability
It might not come as a total surprise, but it has been proven that sustainability and the adoption of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda positively impact business profitability. Why?
By exerting efforts to become sustainable, you earn public trust and achieve a positive corporate image. Your reputation as an eco-friendly manufacturer will earn the goodwill of the public, which, in turn, helps you attract more customers and make your business more profitable.
3. Ease of expansion and access to new markets
If you already have a strong ESG profile, you are more likely to gain access to new markets that are open only to companies with a track record of demonstrating sustainability. You may find it easier to expand your operations to areas or countries that only partner with green businesses.
4. Higher employee job satisfaction and productivity
Most people are not content with working for a living and desire purposeful employment. They want to find meaning and value in their jobs beyond simply earning a paycheck.
With a sustainable operation, you’ll also be boosting employee morale because they know they are working for a socially and environmentally responsible employer. This newfound inspiration in their place of employment can translate into higher productivity and bottom line.
You’ll also be setting yourself up to become an employer of choice because you uphold sustainable values.
Steps You Can Take to Achieve Sustainability
Making your manufacturing business eco-friendlier entails taking small and big steps. But try to start with small steps before adopting more complex strategies. What’s important is you stay the course and continue evolving until you achieve total sustainability.
1. Conduct an energy survey
With the help of an experienced energy professional, you can run a systematic energy audit to help you address areas where you can save or reduce energy consumption – or at least, use energy more efficiently. If you have the funds or are ready to invest in bigger changes, you might also want to look into adopting the use of renewable energy in your operations.
2. Address smaller but important deficiencies
If you’re ready to make smaller but significant changes, you can look into the following:
- Using energy-efficient light fixtures, such as LED or new CFL models
- Improving building insulation for better heating efficiency
- Installing water-saving fixtures to reduce water waste
- Making use of programmable thermostats to save on heating costs
3. Minimise manufacturing waste
Conduct a review of your manufacturing process to identify processes or factors that lead to the production of by-products or surplus. After the audit, you can ask the best minds in your company to find ways to reduce waste generated from your operations.
4. Adopt new manufacturing technologies
Taking steps to digitalise your operations and replacing outdated, inefficient machinery and equipment can help you achieve sustainability and operational efficiency in the following ways:
- Improving energy efficiency
- Speeding up production and increasing productivity
- Making work areas safer for human workers
- Freeing up workers to do higher-level tasks
Another aspect of digitalisation is the use of asset management software that’ll make it easier to identify, tag, track and maintain machinery and equipment. This way, you not only maximise the functional lifespan of your machines and other equipment but also stay on top of repair and maintenance tasks, which will, in turn, reduce or eliminate downtime.
Time to Take the First Step
Martin Thomas, European Marketing Manager at Radwell International Ltd explains more. “Turning your manufacturing business into a greener operation is not something you can do overnight. However, all it takes is a single step in the right direction.
Beyond the steps shared here, there are other things you can do to make your business an eco-friendly enterprise. Just make sure you commit to your sustainability goals.
After all, you have so much to gain in the process – not only your business but also society and the environment.”