Benefits of embracing sustainability and green manufacturing
Monday, November 09, 2015
Sustainable manufacturing is past being something that's "nice to have." It is now a vital aspect of the manufacturing industry.
When manufacturers change their processes to make their company more environmentally friendly, people often refer to the company as "going green." Sustainable manufacturing is practiced across the globe, and companies have invested billions to make "going green" the new business imperative. Why?
The sustainability imperative
Manufacturing executives know they need to answer the call of sustainability. Yet, how the response is structured will have a major effect on the ability to compete successfully in the business world — and can even affect the survival of their companies.
Although many incorrectly use the terms interchangeably, "going green" and sustainability are not the same thing,
Going green is most often associated with a single product or process. Examples include changing a single process or product, such as advancing a particular process so that it does not harm the environment or making a product composed of only recycled materials.
Sustainability is the term used as a description of a manufacturer's holistic approach. Sustainability refers to the whole production process and logistics. Purchasing a product made of recycled material is considered a good thing, but if the product is made overseas and unsound environmental methods of transport to the United States are used, then sustainable principles are not followed.
Manufacturers that keep their focus on both going green and sustainability can realize both short- and long-term financial benefits when making environmentally conscious upgrades.
What are the benefits?
Energy-related cost reductions
Energy costs create anxiety for manufacturing businesses. Wildly fluctuating energy costs can be cut by changing over to sustainable ways of doing things. These projects include:
- Installation of energy-efficient lighting
- Regular inspections of equipment
- Use of solar and wind energy
- Implementation of recycling strategies
- Going paperless wherever possible
Many solutions count savings per year and not daily or monthly.
Heightened competition for government contracts
Competition for government contracts at any level is extraordinarily competitive. Nevertheless, manufacturers consider the award of a government contract a great achievement.
By becoming a sustainable and green manufacturer increases your competitive ability. In addition, many government contracts are only available to sustainable manufacturers, which in turn gives a company the chance to grow.
Incentives and tax credits
A number of tax incentives exist when switching over to energy-efficient equipment, lighting and machinery. These exist at the federal and state level. In addition, many utilities offer rebates on energy saving lighting, air conditioning and heating systems at the local level.
Increase in sales
Consumers are aware of the implications of unchecked carbon emissions from manufacturing facilities. Taking your business into the sustainability realm is an excellent way to improve your reputation.
A rebranding campaign makes sense when a manufacturer chooses sustainability that opens doors to new consumers and increase total sales.
Improvement in workforce morale and innovation
When beginning a program for sustainability, employees work as a single unit identifying and implementing sustainable programs. When engaged in a sustainability initiative, there is pride in the company workforce. Management can boost this pride and keep it flowing by reminding people how much they have done in improving the carbon footprint of the plant.
Equally important is how sustainability explodes innovation. Challenging engineers to design better processes that eliminate or reduce scrap material or that recycle waste can lead to bold new ideas in the area of sustainability.
There really is no downside to becoming a sustainable or green manufacturer. The plan can take a few years to implement, but ongoing reports to the community, customers and retailers will keep your name fresh and in front of the people you want to know about your company's sustainable program.
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