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A Complete Guide to Sustainable Manufacturing and it's Benefits

Alice Morgan - Last Update: 14 Apr 2022

Contents

What is sustainable manufacturing?

What are the benefits of sustainable manufacturing?

How can businesses become more sustainable?

Great examples of sustainable manufacturing


When you think of sustainable manufacturing, what comes to mind? Is it switching the lights off when you leave a room and recycling your rubbish in the staff kitchen?

The honest truth is sustainable manufacturing goes a lot deeper than that.

You may have to change the way you’ve always done things, leading to big shifts in the company, but there could be huge benefits to doing that.

As the world moves to be greener, manufacturing companies that aren’t moving to more sustainable ways of working could see themselves dropped from supply chains as public bodies and other organisations favour those with sustainable credentials.

Let’s find out how you can get greener...

How to reduce your carbon footprint

What is sustainable manufacturing?

Sustainable manufacturing is the process of creating new products while minimising any negative impacts on the environment.

In an ideal world, manufacturing would be completely sustainable from end-to-end, but this isn’t the case, and it can be complicated to get it right. In the midst of the climate emergency, businesses need to balance their visions for a greener future with their finances and strategy in the short-term.

Any changes a company makes towards sustainable manufacturing must meet the needs of the business, the local community, and their employees too. For instance, if a company puts a fully automated process into place that may be more environmentally friendly, they might put some of their team out of work, which could lead to a lack of economic growth in the local community.

Making your manufacturing company more sustainable is a delicate balance but if you get it right, it could prove very beneficial.

What are the benefits of sustainable manufacturing?

Although changing processes can be tricky, and take a lot of planning, making your company greener can be hugely beneficial.

Using cleaner materials with less harsh chemicals can improve the quality of life for your employees and provide them with a safer environment to work in, while manufacturing innovations could also make your team more efficient.

You may also find that having sustainable processes in place means you’re seen as a favourable business to work with, as other companies around you move to more greener ways of working.

Funding For Sustainability And Environmental Management Training

PLA funding from the Welsh Government could help you to progress in your current industry or take your career in a new direction. There are a number of environmental management qualifications you can complete with TSW Training using PLA funding, including IEMA accredited courses & qualifications and NEBOSH Environmental.

Find out more

 

There are lots of government initiatives in place, including the Net Zero Wales plan for the Welsh economy, aimed at reducing carbon emissions, and working in line with these will help you to be seen as a more progressive, forward-thinking business.

 

How can businesses become more sustainable?

There are lots of changes you can make to become more sustainable, but your first step will be getting everyone on the same page, including your senior leadership team, which can be a challenge.

Companies can optimise their processes to make sure they're using less energy and natural resources, by using greener alternatives and more eco-friendly materials.

Although costly at first, investing in new technology which optimises how your materials are produces, or makes your production leaner, can pay off in the long term, as it can make your processes more efficient. Changing the materials you use to keep natural resources to a minimum can also mean conserving them for future generations.

Possibly the best way to become a more sustainable business is by creating a closed-loop industry. By using materials that would otherwise have ended up in waste, you’ll keep production costs and, potentially, harmful emissions to a minimum.

Aligning your sustainable goals with other businesses could also see you work in partnership with others to reduce waste. They do say one person’s trash is another person’s treasure and that could certainly be the case if you could see a use for another company’s waste within your own business.

Lots of companies are now also creating durable products that will last, rather than cheaper disposable items. Extending the life of a product can keep the costs of manufacturing down, as well as encouraging customers to reuse what they already have. Although it may seem counter-productive to produce fewer goods, you may improve your brand’s reputation by creating products that last.

bmw

Great examples of sustainable manufacturing

BMW

BMW is one of the global companies who are focusing heavily on sustainability.

Developing hydrogen-fuel cell technology to power their vehicles, they’re also looking closely at their manufacturing processes to see where they can make a change.

Their goal is to create a ‘sustainable value chain that covers its own needs with recyclates and renewable raw materials – including energy.’ The team recently discovered that it’s not just the switch to hybrid and electric vehicles that needs their attention – it's also the manufacturing of the batteries which produces high volumes of CO2.

Through their use of green suppliers and their battery recycling scheme, BMW is aiming to keep its CO2 emissions down throughout the manufacturing process.

samsung

Samsung

Samsung is another company who are committed to taking action when it comes to sustainability.

Going above and beyond adhering to environmental laws, they work within a circular economy to minimise the natural resources they use and make the most of their materials. They’ve also enhanced the durability of their products to conserve resources and reduced the amount of packaging they use.

With regional recycling and water management systems in place, Samsung have overhauled their manufacturing processes to ensure they are creating new products in a fair and sustainable environment.

Which courses can help with sustainable manufacturing?

It’s best to get support from experts who can provide sustainability advice to get you on the right track.

Take a look at the list of IEMA courses & programmes we offer to help you get your team up to speed.

We have a team of in-house advisors who can help you decide which courses would be best for your business – just fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.

Working in partnership with Aspen Waite, your company could also benefit from the Sustain programme which can help you transition towards net-zero carbon emissions.

Infographic: How to reduce your carbon footprint.