6 Opportunities for Manufacturers to Be Greener and More Sustainable
The eco-conscious movement is influencing a sustainable transition for manufacturers in the industrial sector. Higher demands for green products forces companies to lower their carbon emissions and surface-level waste production. Manufacturing facilities can limit their environmental effects by adopting six sustainability-enhancing practices.
1. Installing Solar
A direct way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is by installing renewable energy systems. Nearly 81% of America’s energy supply comes from fossil fuels. During combustion, they release air pollutants, degrading the atmosphere’s natural composition.
Manufacturers can install solar panels on roofs, accessing emission-free electricity. Reducing localized air pollution supports the regional ecosystem and improves air quality. Transitioning away from fossil-fuel-derived electricity towards solar power also decreases a manufacturing facility’s utility costs.
Solar is currently the most cost-effective energy source on the market. When manufacturers cater to eco-conscious consumers’ needs using renewable energy, they increase their profits while decreasing their production costs.
2. Recycling Excess Materials
Manufacturing facilities can also decrease their environmental impacts by recycling excess materials. Many companies dispose of unused products because it is cost-effective. Though recycling comes with a small monthly fee, it significantly improves a company’s sustainability.
Recycling metals like aluminum can minimize the energy used to make new versions by 90% on average. It decreases emissions and landfill usage, preserving the environment’s natural state. Companies can also repurpose their excess materials, further reducing their ecological effects.
3. Increasing Water Efficiency
Manufacturing facilities may additionally improve their eco-friendliness by reducing freshwater exploitation. Companies can install a rainwater harvesting system to decrease their reliance on conventional water supplies. The system collects storm discharge in barrels, filters it, and pumps it into hoses, faucets, showerheads, and more.
4. Install Smart Devices
Companies can also decrease resource exploitation by installing smart devices. America uses nearly 155 billion kilowatt-hours of energy for commercial cooling alone. Manufacturing facilities can limit their electricity use by utilizing smart thermostats.
The device connects to a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, maintaining energy-efficient indoor temperatures. It gathers real-time weather predictions through a Wi-Fi connection, adjusting the thermostat to decrease emissions. Additionally, the device uses motion detection sensors, shutting the system off when a building is vacant.
5. Receive an Energy Audit
Receiving an energy audit can increase a manufacturer’s awareness of sustainability limitations. Companies now conduct audits specific to the standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). They assess the efficiency of devices, systems, and more, evaluating the entire facility’s emissions and eco-friendliness.
6. Use Automated Technology
More industries are using robots to increase the energy efficiency of manufacturing processes. Automated devices are more accurate than humans, decreasing error-derived material waste. Engineers also design the technology to limit electricity use, shrinking a facility’s carbon footprint.
Companies must also enhance the sustainability of their manufacturing processes to become greener. The products they use significantly affect their eco-friendliness. Some manufacturers outsource their materials from underdeveloped countries, accessing the most cost-effective versions.
These inexpensive goods are sometimes less sustainable because of their transportation footprint. International shipping practices account for 740 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Outsourcing materials can expand a manufacturer’s carbon footprint and decrease its ethical accountability.
Many cost-effective, outsourced materials come from countries with limited regulations and inadequate workers’ rights. When a company purchases products from these regions, they support unethical practices. Manufacturers can increase their sustainability by sourcing eco-conscious materials from their area, limiting emissions and regulating development.
They may also use low-emission tools and machines, further shrinking their footprints. Manufacturers can additionally collect excess materials and reuse them for future projects. Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and material waste may significantly increase a company’s sustainability.
Implementing Change Today
Manufacturers can enhance their facility’s sustainability by installing green systems and training employees to minimize waste and emissions. Adopting eco-conscious practices may be challenging for some workers, and there are methods of increasing their willingness to take part. Employers can use sustainable change to show they care and value their employees.
Lowering emissions and eschewing environmentally degrading materials can protect workers from polluted air consumption. Using automated systems also decreases their risk of injury on the job. When employees discover the importance of enhancing sustainability, a manufacturing facility can achieve efficient changes.
*This article is written by Devin Partida. Devin is a tech writer with an interest in IIoT and manufacturing. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com.