Sustainable manufacturing is a current buzzword and noted trend. Here’s how they define it at the EPA:
Sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources.
You may wonder: Is it just a trend, or is it here to stay? Is it simply a marketing tactic, or is it an expression of values?
Seems like it’s here to stay. Also according to the EPA:
A large and growing number of manufacturers are realizing substantial financial and environmental benefits from sustainable business practices… Sustainable manufacturing also enhances employee, community and product safety.
Benefits of Sustainable Manufacturing
Sustainability efforts are no longer the domain of self-styled “green” companies. Making sustainability a strategic objective has a variety of potential benefits, such as:
- Reduce costs, reduce waste, increase operational efficiency
- Increase competitive advantage
- Enhance brand and reputation and cultivate public trust
- Contribute to long-term business viability and success
- Comply with regulatory constraints
Companies of all sizes, ages and sectors are pursuing sustainability by improving efficiency and reducing their resource footprint. These efforts are manifesting in a variety of ways. Notably, companies are focusing on long-term impacts and results, and are bringing external stakeholders into the conversation early. They’re formally acknowledging sustainability as a goal, and tackling it in a coordinated, integrated and documented fashion. They’re going beyond simple compliance and strategically analyzing and innovating. In many cases, regulations will inevitably tighten, so making plans and improvements with an eye to the future will pay off.
Many Routes Toward Sustainability
Ultimately, strategic and conscientious sustainability efforts are part of a balanced plan for growth and profitability. There are many aspects of sustainability to work on, including shipping, marketing, supply chain, raw materials, packaging, energy usage and pollution. With so many directions to choose from, a smart company will evaluate which are the low-hanging fruit and which elements have the highest potential for ROI.