“Going green” has been a popular discussion topic for the last decade and is important for manufacturing companies to be successful. Beyond the legal need to adhere to regulatory mandates to reduce their carbon footprint, there’s a lot of intrinsic value in going green for manufacturing companies. Adopting sustainable practices has tax incentives, cuts costs, and creates operational efficiencies. Not to mention there is a competitive advantage since sustainability is a proven factor in buyers’ decision-making. It pays to be green!
Some of the largest manufacturing companies have employed their own eco-conscious initiatives. What steps can you make in your own factory? We’ve identified four ways manufacturing companies can go green to help you navigate the transition.
1. Conduct an energy audit
According to Plant Engineering, energy is the largest cost area for many manufacturers, but only 47% of facilities conduct an annual energy audit. To reduce your energy consumption, it’s imperative to first measure how much energy is being used and from which sources. That’s where an energy audit comes in. This inspection will identify which systems are working inefficiently and what cost-effective measures can be implemented to rectify problem areas. But don’t stop there—continue to evaluate energy use through energy monitoring systems. That way you can track progress and establish benchmarks to make sure the company is hitting its energy-saving goals.
2. Control HVAC and lighting systems
Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems consume a large percentage of manufacturing plants’ energy. Being mindful of HVAC equipment usage can positively impact your utility bills. There are a few surefire ways to diminish energy used by HVAC systems: keep up with routine maintenance, make sure there is ample insulation to trap heated or cooled air inside, and use a programmable thermostat to operate at a temperature that requires the least amount of effort for the HVAC unit.
Industrial lighting is also one of the main culprits in energy consumption. Manufacturers can turn to energy-efficient lighting products and automated lighting that turns on only when employees are present. A simple example is switching from incandescent to LED. By simply switching out incandescent light bulbs for LED ones, you can use at least 75% less energy and they’ll last 25 times longer.
3. Eliminate printing with an internal communication solution
Most manufacturing companies use bulletin boards and fliers to communicate information to their plant workers who don’t work in an office. Those methods require lots of printing, which is a waste of paper, ink, and electricity and quickly incurs high costs and damages the environment. Luckily, it’s one of the easiest things to reduce with digitization tools at our disposal.
One way to not only minimize waste, but also improve internal communication in your factory is to adopt a digital platform for your internal communication strategy. With a mobile communication tool in place, you can encourage real-time collaboration and send updates, protocols, and crisis communications faster. Keeping everyone on the same page improves overall safety and productivity.
4. Opt for eco-friendly products and materials
The market is saturated with cleaning products containing chemicals that are harmful when released into the environment. (They also aren’t safe for people to breathe.) Switching to greener products helps reduce pollution to our waterways and lessens impact on ozone depletion and global warming since they have fewer smog-producing chemicals. Make sure to buy from green cleaning chemicals suppliers when purchasing new products and materials. Most sustainable products also use recyclable packing which minimizes waste.
Raw materials can be sourced from waste streams, post-consumer waste, construction waste, or renewable agricultural sources that provide a wealth of options for innovative manufacturers. For example, Cellulose Material Solutions, LLC produces ECOCELL products that are made from at least 70% renewable and recycled fibers.