The National Council for Advanced Manufacturing defines sustainable manufacturing as “the creation of manufactured products that use processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources, and are economically sound and safe for employees, communities, and consumers.”
They also note that there are two ways to look at sustainable manufacturing:
- The manufacturing of sustainable products
- The sustainable manufacturing of all products
For our purposes in this blog post, we’ll only address the latter.
So, how do nonwoven manufacturers and converters apply sustainable manufacturing principles to decrease the impact our products and manufacturing processes have on the environment?
- Set goals toward sustainability. Figure out the value that sustainability can create for your company. You should also consider the costs of not pursuing sustainable manufacturing practices. Set measureable goals to help move your company to a sustainable-focused future.
- Identify challenges, sources and opportunities. Figure out where the big hurdles are and then take a look at the ways you can overcome them.
- Begin making small changes. Let’s face it, revamping all manufacturing processes, replacing equipment and implementing new procedures for waste minimization and management directly affects revenue. Making changes to completely revitalize your manufacturing is an expensive undertaking but NOT making changes at all has an equally costly impact on the environment long-term. Even if you can’t completely revolutionize your entire way of doing business, you can make small changes now and begin to focus on moving toward more sustainable practices.
- Reward employee sustainability efforts. Encourage employees to submit their ideas to minimize your company’s environmental footprint. Recognize employees who go above and beyond to implement sustainability practices in their specialty.
- Review and improve. At the end of your fiscal year, examine the ways that sustainability practices impact your business. Make a concerted effort to continue incorporating small changes into the next fiscal year to build new sustainability practices into your company.
Before you know it, you’ll be the “greenest” company on the block! Remember to work directly with your supply chain and your customers to build sustainable business practices that work well for everyone and reduce the overall impact your products have on the environment.
Blog image courtesy Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net