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Is Sustainable Manufacturing the Right Move for Your Operation?

Posted January 15, 2021 12:00 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: sustainable manufacturing

How the earth can be sustained is at the forefront of many discussions. It is also the reason many manufacturing companies are taking steps to help do their part with sustainable manufacturing practices. The U.S. Department of Commerce defines sustainable manufacturing as “the creation of manufactured products that use processes that minimize negative environmental impacts, conserve energy and natural resources, are safe for employees, communities, and consumers and are economically sound.”

A manufacturing operation will see benefits from implementing best practices for a sustainable manufacturing initiative. For example, the sustainable manufacturing practice of using materials that are non-hazardous or able to be recycled would lead to safe disposal. This would lower or eliminate containment fees, fines and penalties and would lead to reduced spending.

The next benefit is the positive environmental impact that sustainable manufacturing has. The sustainable manufacturing practice of using less energy, water and packaging will not only reduce waste generated but also preserve the environment.

In today’s world, social media makes it is easier than ever for customers to connect with businesses. Because of this, it is important for companies to maintain a positive brand image. Through transparency regarding sustainable manufacturing practices, the public can see a sustainable manufacturing company adopting environmental sustainability. This transparency enhances brand image for a company.

Using materials and inputs that are non-hazardous doesn’t just have a positive impact on a company’s cost spending. It also has a positive impact on the environment. The same can be said for the use of renewable energy. Energy efficient lighting lasts longer and requires less electricity to operate. With less electricity use, a company will cut spending on energy.

Sustainable manufacturing has many benefits for a company. It has proven practices and benefits that more and more companies have been embracing and implementing.


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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: North West England
Posts: 1170
Good Answers: 153

Re: Is Sustainable Manufacturing the Right Move for Your Operation?

01/16/2021 11:43 AM

The US DoC definition of sustainable fails in that it does not take into account any of the benefits gained from practices that it classes as not sustainable. Take two examples, fertilizers and food packaging. Fertilizer is a major farming cost and run off causes serious pollution but all the current alternatives would lead to food shortages and mass starvation. Not using fertilizer meets all the DoC criteria but is it sustainable in a wider sense. Plastics have greatly increased the shelf life of both fresh and processed foods. From the producers standpoint elimination of plastics in this area would reduce their costs and make them appear to be environmentally friendly but at the expense of food wastage returning to the high level that prevailed prior to plastic packaging being introduced. The expense and environmental damage is multiplied and passed on the the consumer. Reduction, even elimination of plastics in all other packaging applications may be desirable but not for food packaging, The DoCs simplistic definition is not viable.

If this year's Glasgow climate conference does nothing else I would wish it to agree one international worldwide standard for plastics additives that emit fluorescence at different excitation frequencies so that the various grades of plastic can be recycled automatically. If all plastic pellets were doped with a specific additive to tag it's type (PET, HDPE ect.) regardless of where in the world they are produced, recycling into individual grade streams would become not only possible, it would become economically viable, and provide possible solutions for both plastic pollution and where to source plastics when the petrol and diesel fractions of fossil fuel cracking are no longer required. If you don't crack for petrol and diesel you don't get bitumen for road and roof construction, heavy fuel oil for shipping, light oils for lubricants, kerosene for aviation fuel or LPGs for domestic heating and plastics.


Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 4
In reply to #1

Re: Is Sustainable Manufacturing the Right Move for Your Operation?

01/21/2021 8:05 PM

Doping a specific additive to tag material type (PET, HDPE) seem to be a good suggestion for segregation.

Although, I seem to have become a bit of skeptic in the last 25 years since I have been working in the Food and Beverage industry. I agree that we need to work towards sustainability, and it has to be holistic approach.

Some of the thoughts that I had on this topic are captured in the below article.

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