Manufacturing firms that have gone green are finding that it saves them thousands of dollars each year to operate eco friendly manufacturing facilities. Going green cuts down energy costs and can even save money on insurance rates. Experts predict that green manufacturing will be the most popular trend in the next five years. So what is eco friendly manufacturing? Here are three keys that help to clarify.
Reduce Waste – The first step toward going green and operating and eco friendly manufacturing is to find all the waste in the manufacturing process and reduce the use of raw materials. Manufacturers should look closely at the harmful waste and emissions their company may be producing. One way to do this is to go through the ISO 14001 process which will put a manufacturing company under the microscope. This certification process, even if not achieved by a manufacturer, will identify areas that need focus and improvement. In the flooring business one other indicator of an eco friendly manufacturer is to have your products meet the NSF-140 standards criteria. This will make sure the products are not harmful to anyone and meet the most advanced requirements in the market today.
Additionally, employing solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources to reduce energy costs definitely is a sign of a green company. This can also include using innovative methods such as employing bio-diesel waste to run boilers and other elements of an eco friendly manufacturing facility.
Recycle – The simplest and most obvious way to go green is to start recycling and the first place to start as a producer of goods is with the product the company manufactures. If a company has no way to reclaim and recycle the materials they are selling and putting into the market then they should not be considered an eco friendly manufacturer.
Companies should first take responsibility for their own products, taking them back and then turning them into the same product in a closed loop, cradle to cradle system. This means they should be selling recycled content materials and fully recyclable products and if possible, also looking at ways to divert other waste streams and use those recycled materials in their manufacturing process. After that is accomplished, an eco friendly manufacturer should look at every area of their company and find materials that can be reduced, reused and recycled. Recycling products within an operational facility and hiring a manufacturing agent, will save any company considerable dollars and is a good sign of an eco friendly manufacturing process.
Eco Training and Education – Knowledge is power and it is vital that associates understand the importance of sustainability, going green and the benefits to the environment, the economy and the community. A formal training program should be put in place to teach each employee about the benefits to themselves and their families as well as how it benefits their employer. Many companies that utilize eco friendly manufacturing take their staffs into the local community to work on environmental projects that help their towns as additional ways to teach the company through activities.
Some manufacturers have found success by offering incentives to staff members that regularly practice recycling and employ other green initiatives such as reducing energy consumption in addition to adding alternative energy systems to their homes. As a baseline, eco friendly manufacturers hold regular meetings to train associates on the value of taking steps to becoming more sustainable.
As a society with bountiful natural resources and enormous wealth, it is easy to overlook the impact of our everyday choices and habits. Rethinking what, why and how we buy can have a tremendous effect on re balancing our demands on natural resources, energy, water, air, habitats and land. Architects, designers, contractors and building owners should reward eco friendly manufacturers with their business for taking doing the right things environmentally.