The industrial sector is the third biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, accounting for over 20% of total emissions (including carbon dioxide and methane), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveals. Manufacturing plants (as part of the industrial sector) typically involve significant pollution and energy and resource use. By implementing sustainable methods designed to green the manufacturing process, manufacturing plants can improve their environmental footprint, lower costs, and boost efficiency.
Embrace circular manufacturing
Circular manufacturing (also known as lean manufacturing) is a sustainable model that extends the life and use of materials and goods to minimize waste and energy and resource usage. In particular, circular manufacturing may include: converting to a renewable power source; adopting predictive maintenance to extend the condition and longevity of equipment; and sharing equipment with other plants.
Additionally, curricular manufacturing typically involves recovering and reusing resources or waste materials generated from other plants rather than purchasing new raw materials. Just look at Kalundborg Symbiosis as a solid example of circular manufacturing: they’re a collective of nine Danish manufacturing companies who’ve been sharing material, water, and energy streams since 1961. Together they lower their carbon emissions by 635,000 tons and save 24 million EUR every year.
Partner with eco-friendly businesses
Your manufacturing plant likely partners with other businesses whether it’s to source raw parts, equipment, and materials or purchase packaging. By partnering with green businesses, you can in turn ensure your business stays as eco-friendly as possible. For example, switch to an energy supplier committed to green energy or a packaging supplier that uses recycled materials.
Additionally, more and more manufacturers are entering the online selling space and partnering with ecommerce companies. In 2020, for example, 30% of manufacturing and 30% of distribution companies generated 60%-80% of their total profits from B2B ecommerce. By using a quick and efficient method of ecommerce fulfillment, manufacturing businesses can ensure they’re harnessing automation and technology to maximum advantage.
Update machinery and equipment
Old machinery and equipment typically have higher energy demands than necessary. By replacing or updating your old machinery and equipment, you can reduce energy waste and increase efficiency and productivity. Installing an electric power management system (EPMS) will also let you clearly see your plant’s electricity distribution and capacity and better control your energy and power costs. Moreover, if it’s within your budget, you can also consider investing in automation in your plant to improve energy-efficiency and reduce waste.
For example, “cobots” (aka collaborative robots) are designed to work alongside human employees. By taking care of dangerous or repetitive tasks, cobots can improve safety for workers (the manufacturing industry typically racks up 400,000 non-fatal injuries every year) while increasing productivity and minimizing risk of human error.
Implementing sustainable changes to your manufacturing plant will pay off greatly in the long run. By embracing circular manufacturing, partnering with eco-friendly businesses, and upgrading machinery and equipment, you can lower your carbon footprint, cut costs, and improve efficiency.