Green manufacturing is a manufacturing practice, which is designed to reduce the negative impact of processes utilized to make products and goods. There are several ways in which manufacturing businesses can adjust the way they work to protect the planet. In this guide to green manufacturing, we’ll discuss eco-friendly manufacturing practices and processes, highlight the benefits of green manufacturing and outline reasons why companies should consider adopting environmentally-friendly processes.
What is Green Manufacturing?
Green manufacturing is a term used to describe practices and processes businesses use to reduce environmental impact. By modifying the way they work, organizations can reduce carbon emissions, lower energy consumption, promote sustainability and recycling and reduce waste. There are multiple ways in which manufacturers can adopt green manufacturing. Some businesses change the raw materials they use to champion sustainability while others offset emissions. Many review and revamp existing processes to boost efficiency and embrace green ways of operating. Improving efficiency often has significant benefits, particularly in terms of energy consumption and reducing waste.
Why should businesses adopt green manufacturing?
Manufacturing processes are a major contributor to carbon emissions. Approximately 20% of global carbon dioxide emissions are produced by the manufacturing industry. There are several reasons why businesses should consider adopting eco-friendly, sustainable manufacturing processes. These include:
Reducing energy consumption
One of the main reasons why businesses should consider going green is to reduce energy consumption and boost energy efficiency. Lowering energy usage will not only reduce carbon emissions, but it will also save businesses money. This is particularly relevant when energy prices are rising.
Adopting a greener mindset
Embracing environmentally friendly processes and practices is an effective way to adjust our collective mindset, set a good example and encourage others to get on board. Making changes that reduce waste, promote sustainable practices and lower energy usage can create a more eco-conscious mindset both within and outside of companies and organizations.
Catering to consumer demands and preferences
Businesses are increasingly aware of the importance of protecting the environment but so are consumers. Studies show that around 81% of customers prefer to buy from brands that champion sustainability. By switching to sustainable, green practices, businesses can cater to consumer demands and preferences and gain a competitive advantage over other manufacturers and brands.
How can the manufacturing sector go green?
Examples of green manufacturing practices include:
- Using renewable sources of energy
- Improving energy efficiency
- Reducing energy consumption and waste materials
- Working towards pollution reduction
- Using sustainable raw materials
- Initiatives to conserve natural resources and recycle and reuse materials
- Forming partnerships with other brands and businesses in the supply chain that also champion sustainability
- Investing in research and development to tackle climate change
- Going beyond industry guidelines to make a bigger impact
OEE enables greener manufacturing
OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) drives efficiency and operational excellence, representing the use of equipment and tools as a percentage, which is calculated using availability, performance and quality data. OEE software, for example, PerformOEE™, highlights inefficiencies and waste to facilitate changes, which increase uptime and output and boost productivity.
OEE encourages manufacturing companies to work towards limiting losses. Often, manufacturing processes contribute to wasted energy as a result of some lines not running at optimum capacity, idle time, inefficient changeovers or the improper allocation of staff or resources. The situation can then be compounded, as companies need to make up for losses.
OEE is one of many technologies that businesses can use to identify inefficiencies, waste and losses and gain access to real-time data, which informs decision-making and helps companies to avoid or mitigate further losses. By improving energy efficiency, adjusting management practices and allocating resources more effectively, manufacturers across the country can save time and money while also reducing CO2 emissions to lower the risk of global warming.
Businesses that specialize in manufacturing should be aware that it’s important to analyze how they produce a product line, as well as what they produce. OEE software programs like PerformOEE™ provide easy access to accurate data and cutting-edge technologies to enable them to make positive changes.
What are the benefits of green manufacturing?
The benefits of green production processes include:
Reduce energy costs
Companies can reduce plant and production energy costs by using equipment more efficiently, implementing faster, smoother changeovers and decreasing stoppages.
Sustainable manufacturing helps to promote an internal ethos and culture, which champions continuous improvement, teamwork and collaboration. The goal is to achieve change that has a lasting impact on the team, the business as a whole and the environment. Employers can encourage employees to work together to come up with innovative ideas and strategies to protect the environment and reduce the company’s overall carbon footprint.
As a society, we have become more interested in the environment. More and more people are looking to make changes, including buying sustainable products and choosing brands and businesses that support environmental initiatives and implement sustainable practices. Going green can help a company to stand out and gain an advantage over competitors. Embracing greener production technologies and reducing energy and electricity consumption can also help to enhance brand image and reputation and ensure prospective and existing customers view the business positively.
Societal impact and attracting new customers
A 2022 study revealed that 75% of consumers in the US are concerned about the environmental impact of the products they purchase. More and more customers are looking for brands that align with their values and most people are now willing to pay more for sustainable, eco-friendly products. By adopting green practices, companies can attract new customers from their target market and improve client retention rates.
Green manufacturing is designed to protect the environment and reduce the harmful impact of production processes on the planet. There are multiple ways in which a company can adopt greener ways of working and producing goods, including investing in research, lowering energy consumption, improving energy efficiency, reviewing the product life cycle, recycling, decreasing pollution and preserving natural resources. As well as helping to protect the environment, eco-friendly manufacturing contributes to cost savings and lower material costs and it can also help brands to gain a competitive advantage, boost efficiency, reduce waste, motivate employees, enhance brand reputation and promote core values.