Sustainable Manufacturing: Why It Is Important
Manufacturers that adopt sustainable manufacturing processes not only have the possibility of reducing costs but also have the benefits of an enhanced public image, as well as creating positive relationships with suppliers and governments that have responsible environmental agendas.
Sustainable manufacturing practices are changing the business landscape. The more sustainable the manufacturer, the better for the business. A factory that is run more sustainably may reduce costs in energy and material use, produce better quality products though technical innovation, and importantly, has less detrimental impact on the environment than one that is not.
Additionally, more and more consumers are making purchases based on the source of their purchases and their environmental sustainability – which benefits companies that use sustainable manufacturing processes. Consumers may place an emphasis on different things, such as using packaging with recycled materials or boycotting brands that use palm oil.
Adopting Sustainability Benefits Manufacturers in Many Ways
Saves Money By Generating Less Waste And Using Fewer Resources, Increasing Efficiency
By using sustainable manufacturing processes, businesses are able to reduce their environmental impact. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, sustainable manufacturing is defined as:
…manufacturing that occurs within the limits of available resources and that is carried out using processes that ensure high levels of efficiency in the use of energy, material, water and other inputs needed to produce goods or services
Unilever has eight examples from their global operations of sustainable manufacturing including recycling 94% of a factory’s water, three of its largest five manufacturing sites in China are carbon neutral, and a site in Sweden has a fossil-free energy contract with its energy supplier, ensuring that its power only came from renewable sources from the national grid.
Provide Better Products And Services To Customers
By making use of recycled material or innovative changes, companies may be able to manufacture equipment that has a higher quality and last longer
This could also translate into the company using less plastic in their packaging, reducing material used for packaging. Currently, more than 33% of plastic packaging is made out of recycled raw materials, which is significantly less than it could be. It has been estimated that if all packaging was made from recycled materials, around one-third of the world’s oil production would be saved and nearly two billion tons of greenhouse gases would be prevented from reaching the atmosphere every year
Provides Public Legitimacy
Through demonstrating environmental commitment to customers, suppliers, potential investors, the media, governments, contributing towards regulatory compliance etc.
One way that a manufacturer can meet these challenges is by joining a sustainability initiative such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC). Some of the SPC’s members include Procter & Gamble, Hershey’s, HP, Intel Corporation and Target to name a few. By joining the SPC initiatives are created by SPC member companies to reduce packaging waste while maintaining brand integrity
Provides Positive Staff and Hiring Engagement
It is attractive to a wider pool of talented employees who are looking to work for environmentally responsible companies that have a positive impact on society.This is especially important in the manufacturing sector where skilled workers are increasingly hard to come by, as companies will often have an advantage over others when they are able to show their commitment to sustainability through this process
If the company’s sustainability polices are seen to be genuine and committed there may also be an improvement in staff morale which could lead to productivity gains and cost reduction over time through increased motivation and efficiency
Better for Brand Image
There has been a shift in businesses prioritizing sustainability by using sustainable manufacturing processes. Consumers have started to care more about environmental impact (and ethical reasons) than they did in the past due to how it is changing the business landscape, which is why more companies are using sustainable practices and through marketing campaigns which show their dedication to sustainable manufacturing practices.
Manufacturers that produce sustainable products can often charge a premium for them as they tend to be viewed as higher quality products. This is because consumers will often regard more sustainable items as being of superior value than those sold by other less responsible manufacturers and retailers.
The customer views the production process as having been done in the right way, therefore the product must be better, so it appears to have a higher monetary value. Hence if producing such products has greater returns overall, even if their initial costs are higher than those of non-sustainable alternatives, they should still increase revenue and profit
Many more consumers are now educated with the environmental and ethical issues surrounding the source of their purchases – ultimately exercising and expressing their concerns with whom they open their wallets and purses with. Companies will need to adapt in order to keep up and to influence consumer behavior for more reasons to consider buying from them.
It is clear from all of this that sustainable manufacturing practices are beneficial for the entire business cycle, from production to distribution and even disposal of products. Working with experienced and trustworthy suppliers or partners close to manufacturers in the supply chain will make this a smooth process, reduce the environmental impact, while improving quality and efficiency in order to better meet customer needs.