Going green is about more than just recycling and turning off lights—it’s about making eco-friendly decisions as a consumer. In this post, we outline everything you need to know about green manufacturing: what it is, how it fits into the broader sustainability movement, and why you should care about green manufacturing.
Every last one of us has probably heard the term go green before, right? Of course. How about eco-friendly? Yeah, we’ve all heard that one, too. Popular “buzzwords” like this became hugely popular over the past few years—especially for businesses.
Going green and being eco-friendly usually both center around the concept of making more environmentally friendly decisions. Think: reusing, reducing, and recycling. But truly going green is more than just living a sustainable personal life at home. It’s also about understanding how your decisions as a consumer affect the world we live in.
That’s where a new term, green manufacturing, comes into play.
Green manufacturing is a big deal when it comes to lowering carbon emissions. But if you’ve never heard that term before, don’t sweat it—that’s exactly what we’re diving into today. Read on to find out everything you need to know and why you should care about green manufacturing.
Green Manufacturing 101
What Is It?
Let’s start with the very basics before we build on this idea. What does the term green manufacturing mean in the first place?
Green manufacturing is a term used to describe the process of manufacturing that’s primarily focused on two goals. First, mitigating the industrial impact on climate change; and second, reducing the burden of its process on the environment.
Think of it like this. Green manufacturing puts a special emphasis on adjusting production and manufacturing processes to be more sustainable from start to finish, across the supply chain.
How Does It Fit In the Sustainability Conversation?
As you may have already guessed, green manufacturing is a big piece of the “going green” puzzle. Why? Because manufacturing is such a huge piece of our economy.
Manufacturing is considered to be the largest sector of the American economy. It is viewed by over 70 percent of Americans as the most important industry out there. It makes sense that such a huge industry would have an enormous impact on sustainability, right?
Green manufacturing takes the go green mindset and amplifies it on a much larger scope than just recycling at home, ditching single-use products, and investing in renewable energy. How does it do that? By changing the way businesses—big and small—manufacture products and create protocol altogether.
Why is it becoming such a noteworthy factor?
There are two primary reasons that green manufacturing is increasingly enjoying the spotlight.. First, as our population increasingly recognizes our impact on the planet’s health, the demand for sustainable products is climbing. People are realizing it’s not just about how environmentally friendly the materials of the products they’re buying are. It’s also about how environmentally-friendly the process is to manufacture those products.
Companies are taking note of this shift. In fact, studies show that “green organizations” that implement green manufacturing and efficient supply chains are experiencing faster growth than their less eco-conscious competitors.
In other words, a company’s decision to embrace green manufacturing is steadily becoming one of the chief considerations in whether or not consumers will purchase its product. And as the studies suggest, the companies who do get on board are profiting from doing so. While, of course, making a difference!
Second, there are more opportunities available than ever for manufacturers and businesses to develop sustainable, environmentally-friendly ways to do more with less. Thanks to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, technological innovations like the industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) are empowering companies to de-carbonize the energy they use and embrace policies like “zero-waste to landfill” while sacrificing less margin.
The Biggest Benefits of Green Manufacturing
There are plenty of ways for companies—big or small—to implement green manufacturing throughout their supply chain.
There are more opportunities than ever for companies to join this movement. On way is switching to energy from renewable sources (like geothermal, solar, hydropower, etc.). Another is evaluating and changing their energy-efficiency practices. And yet another is reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions to using specific technologies to conserve natural resources.
And even though green manufacturing might be “trendy” right now, the benefits of switching over to green manufacturing go above and beyond just being in style. Same goes for deciding to be a consumer who primarily buys from companies that commit to green manufacturing.
Here’s why you should care about green manufacturing:
Reduced Carbon Footprint
This one’s obviously the most important benefit from an intrinsic standpoing. When businesses focus on green manufacturing, they’re essentially focusing on becoming more sustainable, reducing the use of natural resources energy, cutting down their carbon emissions, minimize pollution, and overall shrink their footprint.
Attract More Buyers, Win More Business
Like we mentioned before, consumers care about how their products are made and if they’re made in an environmentally friendly way. Buyers are looking for sustainable products, services, and partners. In other words, more often than not, consumers are going to want to buy from companies who are committed to doing right by the environment.
Opting for green manufacturing can actually help companies save money and reduce their costs. For example, even making small changes like switching out their light bulbs for energy efficient lighting or reducing water usage and cutting down on waste disposal can help reduce costs. According to a 2014 study by Indiana University, one form saved $7 billion through sustainable manufacturing while another was able to save $80 million yearly by reducing energy use.
Improve Brand Reputation
Businesses can change the perception of their brands by switching over to green manufacturing. Nowadays, it’s not good enough for consumers to settle for businesses with quality products, they want quality products and sustainable practices—and consumers will take note of which companies choose to prioritize sustainability.
Enjoy Tax Credits
Making investments that might feel like a lot of up-front costs generally can pay off in the long run—swapping to technologies like geothermal heating, wind, and solar can typically give businesses a tax credit of up to 30 percent off that initial investment.
Why You—The Consumer—Should Care About Green Manufacturing
If you’re reading this and you’re saying to yourself, “sure, that’s great, everyone should go green—but I’m not a manufacturer, why does this apply to me?” Then you might have missed the point.
Think about it this way. You don’t manufacture anything, but you buy from companies that manufacture a lot of things. The scale at which companies manufacture products around the world is enormous. If all of those items are being manufactured in ways that are doing more harm than good to the environment, we’re all making the problem worse by demanding (aka buying) products from companies who don’t care about sustainability.
There’s no disputing the fact that climate change is happening. And currently, we’re on the fast-track to consume four Earths’ worth of resources by 2050. If we don’t cut our C02 emissions in half by 2030, we’ll be unable to safeguard the planet from even more threats of climate change, according to a recent UN report.
Making changes wherever we can, however we can, is critical to cut down on waste, pollution, and emissions.
Green manufacturing starts just like any other type of manufacturing starts—by determining demand. And you know who controls that demand? You—the consumer, the buyer.
Choosing to invest your money into products that are made sustainably is going to be a big part of how our world continues to shift toward green manufacturing.
Be the Change
So why you should care about green manufacturing? Choosing to purchase products from companies who opt for sustainable manufacturing is a great first step toward your own sustainable journey!
Look for other ways to conserve energy, become more sustainable, and lead a more eco-conscious lifestyle? Check out some solar-powered accessories for every home, some tips on how to create an energy-efficient home office, and more! Subscribe to the WattDoesitUse blog for regular articles that can help you better understand sustainability, energy-efficiency, and lowering your carbon footprint.