The manufacturing industry remains a significant source of pollution, releasing pollutants into the air, the ground and water sources.
Most scientific studies point to industrial pollution as the major contributor to global warming and climate change. 2.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, some of it due to industrial pollution.
Fortunately, things are changing. Far-reaching regulations, innovative technologies and energy conservation efforts are helping to reduce pollution from manufacturing.
Most companies never consider going green because the process just seems too overwhelming. A great motivator to taking the first step, would be a clear understanding of the business benefits of going green.
Benefits of sustainable manufacturing
Switching to sustainable manufacturing means that you have to spend more money on new equipment and introducing new processes, but alternative technologies usually pay for themselves in a few years.
As a first step, a company can introduce smart technology to regulate energy consumption effectively. Companies that leverage renewable energy like solar power and energy-saving LED lights reduce their energy bills considerably.
Also, sustainable practices have been shown to lead to less waste, which in turn saves the company on waste treatment and removal costs.
Stand out from the crowd
The degradation of the environment is a hot topic. The general public is aware of the negative impact that manufacturing has had on the environment. If your company can show that it follows sustainable manufacturing practices, you have a unique selling point that puts you ahead of your competitors.
As an entrepreneur, you probably already know how important it is to have a unique selling point or USP. This is what allows you to stand out from the crowd, making it easier for your target audience to distinguish you from your competitors.
Attract a new customer base
Environmentally friendly products are gaining popularity. A 2015 global survey from Nielsen found that 66% of customers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods. Sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability have grown more than 4% globally, while those without grew less than 1%. The survey involved 30,000 consumers in 60 countries across the globe.
If your company can show commitment to sustainability, your business stands a good chance of attracting a whole new customer demographic who is also committed to reducing their environmental impact.
Improved staff retention
It’s a well-known fact that it’s more cost efficient to retain existing staff than to recruit and train new employees. Because social responsibility and environmental factors are so high on the agenda of many consumers, including your staff, they would be more likely to prefer to stay with the company.
Most people are in favour of business practices that supports the environment and would be more loyal to an employer who has committed to environmental sustainability. In fact, you might find that the general morale in the company improves.
Your business may also be in a better position to attract top talent for whom social and environmental sustainability is a priority.
A firm’s environmental commitment affects its productivity positively. A new UCLA-led study has found that companies that voluntarily adopt international “green” practices and standards have employees who are 16 % more productivethan the average.
The study found that employees at such firms are more motivated, receive more training, and benefit from better interpersonal relationships. These employees are therefore more productive than employees in more conventional firms. All of this adds up to an improved bottom line.
Steps towards environmental sustainability
The first step towards adopting energy-efficient practices that safe costs is to undertake an exercise to find out exactly which processes are using disproportionate amounts of energy. Check out heating and cooling systems and consider replacing them with more energy-efficient equipment.
Seriously look at how you can reduce waste. Manufacturing uses raw materials, but in most cases only some parts of it. What’s not used has traditionally been discarded, causing untold damage to the environment, especially rivers. Getting rid of waste can be an opportunity for your company to innovate and maybe come up with a completely new product.
Manufacturing processes use huge volumes of water and water is already a scarce resource. Reconsider your manufacturing processes and find ways to conserve water.
The tide has turned. Companies that prove a commitment to social and or environmental value are becoming market leaders and companies who ignore these issues will fall behind.