So, firstly, what is Sustainable Manufacturing?   

Sustainable manufacturing is an economically sound process that conserves energy and natural resources and minimises negative environmental impact.

There are numerous benefits to business when truly sustainable strategies are implemented throughout the production process.

Our world is changing rapidly with one of the main factors being our impact on the environment.  Along with technology and economic development, climate change has become a major focus in business sectors across the globe.

Goal 13 of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, initiating a trend across the globe of companies adopting ‘sustainability’ as an important inclusion in strategies to increase growth and competitiveness.

There is no doubt that Manufacturing is a contributor to climate change.  The sector is a relatively large user of energy and water, adds to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, but, by far, the main area of concern is that it can generate a significant amount of waste.

Keeping up with sustainable options, regulations and requirements in manufacturing demands innovative, creative and often ‘out of the box’ thinking.

Let’s have a closer look at sustainable manufacturing, what it is and how it can benefit you and your business.

Reduction of Costs   

This is a long game & definitely not a quick fix.  Introduction of sustainable manufacturing now will lead to reduced costs in the future. Remember, not every idea needs to be instigated and implemented immediately.  Planning is the key to economically viable & long term sustainability.  EG reducing waste at the moment may require more staff or more equipment, but the long term benefits to your business and, coincidentally, the environment, will be substantial.

Improve Sales

More and more customers are leaning toward businesses who can show / prove that they are ‘doing the right thing’, not just talking about it.  Having an effective marketing strategy highlighting your efforts in sustainability along with steadfast evidence of corporate social responsibility will go a long way in relating to your customers in the future and therefore, improving sales.

Attract and Retain Better Employees

Employees are being choosy in who they work for.  With a good company ethos of sustainability and real effort to ‘do the right thing’, you will dramatically increase your chances of attracting, and retaining, the right staff and a better cultural fit for your business. 

Encourage Innovation

All systems & equipment may need to be reviewed, assessed, checked, overhauled or & in some cases, replaced, to offer more sustainable manufacturing solutions.  Whilst there may be some cost involved initially, being innovative when it comes to sustainability, can improve processes, save on operational costs in the long-term and help the environment at the same time.

Less Regulatory Compliance Disruption

New laws are frequently being drafted to ensure businesses are complying with eco-friendly manufacturing processes and waste reduction.  Keeping ahead of the game in terms of environmental legislation will save any disruption to your business.  It could also help to avoid any nasty fines. 

Strengthen Long-term Viability

Becoming carbon neutral is not an overnight task, it takes planning & time.  Addressing and integrating sustainability across business processes in a focused, coordinated and formal manner can ensure your company’s long-term viability and success is guaranteed.

You only need to go into your local cafe to recognise some of the innovative endeavours, like the use of paper straws, being adopted to reduce our impact on the environment.  

And it’s not just some of the larger corporate companies making the headlines with regard to their commitments to carbon neutrality.  Many smaller organisations are getting busy coming up with their own unique alternatives and hitting the press.

For instance, an eQA rare minerals mining client uses the waste from one product, as the processing aid of another product.  The end result is 2 saleable products & one inert waste item that has zero effect on the environment.

Companies that have started to accept climate change and act on the United Nation’s call are no doubt making headway in their goals to reduce pollution and improve their position in the marketplace.

Making initial changes and creating long-term strategies can seem daunting.  Reach out to the eQA team on 07 3715 6066 or murray@eqa.com.au to have a chat about how we can help your manufacturing company be more sustainable through QA.

Sources:

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Australian Manufacturing Forum