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In a blog post earlier this year, we noted how since the election, more manufactures have expressed interest in reshoring and avoiding offshoring entirely. However, manufacturers are considering other ways of improving factories and supply chains as well. Across the U.S. more companies are turning toward sustainable alternatives and methodologies (like green manufacturing) in boosting competitive advantage and increasing revenue, explains Stuart Hall of Global Manufacturing.

In fact, the sustainable trend is becoming essential to all parts of manufacturing and supply chains, ranging from smart factories to green delivery trucks. Meanwhile, the demand for more products has exponentially increased the demand on vendors and suppliers, so companies must evolve and embrace Green manufacturing initiatives now and throughout the coming years. But, understanding the driving forces and added benefits of this trend are also essential to making green methodologies useful to modern manufacturers.  

What’s Driving More Companies to Embrace Sustainable Technologies and Methodologies?

Take a moment to think about standard business practices. You need to have the right supplies, the right factories and the right transportation networks in place for consumers to get the products they want within the Holy Trinity of Manufacturing. In other words, companies are moving toward sustainable alternatives because of the following three “Ps:”

  • Public. Public perception goes back to reputation management. When companies embrace green manufacturing initiatives, it shows in customer response. Word-of-mouth advertising and social media uproar can quickly decimate a company’s profits if they continue operating with traditional, unsustainable processes.
  • Politics. The second part of the equation is about politics. Government oversight, regardless of the current administration’s actions, will continue in some form. Even if laws change, companies must still answer in the court of public opinion about their operations. Additionally, companies face stiff fines and punishment for violations of anti-pollution legislation. But, there is another part that should be considered.
  • Profits. Politics play a role in the profits companies get through green manufacturing initiatives. In other words, politics can lead to tax benefits and incentives for companies that abandon waste-producing practices or work to reduce their carbon footprints.

All three driving forces also build on one another, further strengthening the argument for sustainable manufacturing.

What the Benefits of Going Green?

There are real benefits of going green as well that extend beyond how politicians and the public perceive them, reports Brian Lagas of the Manufacturing Innovation Blog. These benefits include the following:

  • Tax incentives. As mentioned previously, tax incentives can be leveraged to invest into new technologies and increase a company’s size.
  • Adherence to compliance regulations. Companies operate in durations that often exceed standard political appointment or seat occupancy. In other words, political changes should not act as an antagonist to sustainability because political setbacks and power divides do change. As a result, companies that implement sustainable alternatives to manufacturing that meet or exceed current eco-friendly laws can avoid the potential setbacks if current changes to the EPA or other governing body change with the next election cycle. Essentially, creating and implementing a sustainability strategy is the only long-term solution companies have to avoid possible compliance violations.
  • Reduce costs. The costs associated with manufacturing can also be reduced through sustainability initiatives. This includes reducing the reliance of utility companies for power and recycling. Essentially, companies that optimize existing operations and reduce their demand for energy can cut the manufacturing costs per product, which translates into savings for customers and better competition.
  • Reduce impact on the environment. Let’s face the facts for a moment. Every non-sustainable measure impacts the environment in some way, even if it is just the trash produced from a cardboard container. Without getting into a political discussion, consider the positive ways your company could help the environment by simply optimizing existing operations and reducing your reliance on energy resources. It does not have to be a complete overhaul, but it is time to start thinking years in advance.
  • Designers are focusing on product manufacturing that uses green initiatives. The ease of manufacturing depends on what products designers and inventors create. If these products are designed to manufactured in green facilities, it would unreasonable to try to create them in the same manner without having sustainable solutions in place. This can be as simple as using recycled materials in the product. For example, some recycled papers may have a lighter texture and feel, so embracing sustainability may be the only to continue working with designers that have sustainability on their minds.

How Are Companies Utilizing Green Manufacturing Initiatives?

Once you have decided to implement a sustainability program in your company, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Rather than trying to start from scratch, consider the following ways companies are currently utilizing green manufacturing initiatives.

  • Smart factories eliminate waste and redundancies.
  • Cloud-based technologies reduce energy costs.
  • Using recycled products for raw materials.
  • Creating supply chains with bi-directional flow.
  • Reducing waste in transporting goods.
  • Considering trucks that have a smaller environmental impact.

What’s Next?

More than $140 million are being poured into a new Sustainable Manufacturing Institute that will work to give more companies better options and feasibility in implementing sustainable practices, reports the Environmental Leader. As explained by the Utah Chronicle, the U.S. Department of Energy is also working toward this goal. With the public, the government and private enterprise moving toward sustainability, you cannot avoid beginning the process of optimizing your operation and eliminating costs through sustainable solutions any longer. In fact, one of the easiest ways to get started is by moving to a dedicated transportation management system (TMS), which can begin reducing your operational costs by reducing overall fuel and transportation costs across your company. Sustainability is here to stay.