Clean Technology Canada

Advice for plant managers: 5 tips for running a sustainable manufacturing plant


June 22, 2022
By Canadian Manufacturing
Presented by:
CMO

PHOTO: Clean technology/Seagul via pixabay

Sustainable manufacturing is how companies stress reducing the adverse environmental effects – such as air and water pollution and toxic waste disposal – in their complete production process.

Running a sustainable manufacturing plant also affects the consumer market and conserves our environment. 

Research indicates that 60% of consumers worldwide rate sustainability as a significant purchase criterion. Therefore, one great way to win consumers’ trust is to ensure your factory focuses on the green manufacturing process. Here’s a list of effective and appropriate strategies you can use to ensure you’re running a sustainable manufacturing plant.

1. Implement circular manufacturing

Circular manufacturing stands for reusing and recycling available resources while sharing or leasing materials and unused products to other factories to reduce waste. Circularity is a compelling production model as it’s cost-effective, saves energy, and reduces waste by making resources valuable for an extended period.

It also allows you to find waste products from other plants useful to your factory instead of buying new raw materials. Therefore, you will be able to reduce the cost of production while conserving the world’s environment.

Kalundborg Symbiosis, a manufacturing company in Denmark, has successfully been using circular manufacturing since 1961, enabling them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 635,000 tons annually.

2. Opt for recycling

Since waste recycling is vital to maintaining a natural environment, most countries are now funding their local manufacturing companies to build recycling plants to process non-recyclable materials.

Allbirds, one of the leading shoe companies in the United States, is an excellent example of a recycling company that uses waste materials such as sheep’s wool, plastics, and castor bean oil in manufacturing their product.

3. Reduce energy use

By reducing the energy use in your manufacturing company, you lower the demand for fossil fuels that produce toxic waste. The poisonous waste may include carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide when burned.

It’s also crucial to upgrade your manufacturing technology and processes, and purchase energy-saving equipment to reduce energy use. It would be best to implement predictive maintenance (PdM) to maintain the working efficiency of your company’s equipment and avoid consuming more power.

Some of the most effective ways to reduce energy consumption in a factory are:.

  • Use an automated lighting system
  • Use energy during off-peak times
  • Start using the LED lights
  • Turn off machines if they aren’t in use
  • Buy energy-saving equipment 

General Motors, one of the leading automotive manufacturing corporations in the US, uses green energy produced from wind turbines and solar panels. 

4. Involve your staff

Your team needs to be a part of the sustainable manufacturing approach. This will make them feel part of the factory’s progress, and they will initiate your ideas about running a sustainable manufacturing plant quickly as they feel involved.

Encourage them to:

  • Be mindful of their energy usage
  • Recycle and compost when possible
  • Educate themselves on sustainable practices

The Coca-Cola Company is one of the leading companies in employee engagement, and they implement Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) to upskill the task force in managing sustainable manufacturing plants.

5. Examine your production process to see what you can eliminate

A lot goes into producing a product – and a lot of waste is generated. See what you can do to cut down on the amount of waste your company produces. This will be good for the environment, and it will also save you money.

For example, you can:

  • Redesign your packaging to use less material
  • Reduce the amount of energy you use in your manufacturing process
  • Invest in recycled materials

Like anything, producing sustainable goods requires a bit of creativity and forward thinking. But, it’s worth it to implement these changes and reap the benefits for both your business and the environment.

An excellent example of a company that has done this is Patagonia. They’re an outdoor clothing company that uses recycled materials in their products and packaging. As a result, they’ve saved over 72 million pounds of waste from going into landfills.

Sustainable manufacturing is possible, and it’s becoming more necessary as we face dwindling resources and a changing climate. If you want to run a sustainable manufacturing plant, you can start by getting certified with ISO 14001.

ISO 14001 are guidelines that assist businesses in running their organizations in an environmentally friendly manner. The certification process can be costly, but the benefits often outweigh the costs.