We can agree that humans have negatively impacted the environment in several ways. Think about the Industrial Revolution, when the first generation of factories surged. As consumerism increased, industries began growing faster than the realization of the damage they were causing to the planet.

It is a fact that the manufacturing industry has contributed to air and water pollution. However, every day there are more things that can be done about it and sustainable manufacturing is one of them. What’s great about this is that it benefits both, the planet and the companies.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, sustainable manufacturing is

the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources”

This can be achieved through many ways, it varies depending on each company. However, I encourage you to explore new ways to manufacture in a more eco-friendly way. Here are some things you could apply in your company.

Waste reduction

There are several ways to reduce waste, although it depends on the company and the processes implemented. First of all, it is important to have a lean manufacturing thinking to succeed in reducing waste. Lean thinking involves recognizing what adds value to your product and what doesn’t, in order to eliminate unnecessary processes and materials and therefore reducing waste and costs. An example of waste reduction is adopting a closed loop manufacturing system, which means incorporating returned products to the supply chain. This won’t only reduce waste and costs, but will also help the manufacturer have more control over supply chain and the lifecycle of the product.

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Recycling

This might not be new for anyone, but not everyone applies it in their company. Materials can be recycled in several ways like in the package of the product. Another example is water, that can also be recycled. This is important to know since water is such an important resource that is scarce in many countries. One way of recycling water is with a membrane biological reactor that separates solids and liquids. This cleans the water so it can be reused. 

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Reduce Energy Use

Energy use in companies is their main contribution to their carbon footprint. Lighting is one of the big energy consumption factors. To reduce this consumption, companies can install energy efficient lighting and make sure lights are switched off when out of use either manually or through automatic sensors. Moreover, a good investment is to buy energy efficient devices, these might cost more but in the long run, you definitely save money. Finally, keeping control of the heating and cooling is also important. Keeping your office temperature one degree down during winters and one degree up during summers can reduce the power it uses by up to 10%.

People also need to innovate and be very creative in order to find new ways to improve their processes and make them more eco-friendly. At the beginning it might be hard and intimidating for companies to start implementing this new concept in their business, however, it is definitely worth it. As it has already been said, when a manufacturing company implements this sustainability concept to their processes they are not only reducing the damage to the environment, they are gaining multiple benefits too. Their reduction of waste, emissions, and use of water and energy reduces their costs and increases their operational efficiency. This also strengthens the brand and reputation of companies since they demonstrate their commitment to community and stakeholders.

There are always ways in which we can contribute to the environment. Industries need to be creative, innovate, use renewable energy, embrace their fear of change and focus on value. It is definitely a challenge for all of us to continue to develop new ways to avoid further environmental damage. However, it is also important to find ways in which we can repair the damage we have already caused.

Michelle Mestre

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