Is Your Business Following Environmentally Friendly Manufacturing Practices?

When it comes to our environment, manufacturers have traditionally played one of the largest roles in undermining its health. While the days of unfettered smoke stacks and unchecked pollutants are largely behind us, that doesn’t mean today’s manufacturers don’t have a mandate and ability to improve manufacturing practices. In fact, the adoption of eco-friendly business practices has gained traction among manufacturers from all sectors in recent years, with many committed to sustainable manufacturing practices.

The benefits of environmentally-friendly manufacturing can extend beyond the planet (though of course, it should be the number one beneficiary). Safer practices, materials, and products can pose less of a risk to consumers, and can actually be more affordable for manufacturers.

Are your company’s efforts to contribute to a sustainable environment on par with your peers?

To find out, consider some of the top environmentally-friendly business practices manufacturers are implementing today.

  • Complete Energy Audits

Gas and electricity can be two of a manufacturing company’s largest operational expenses, especially when you’re talking about a large production plant (or multiple). They also have a significant impact on the environment, given that 81% of energy in the U.S. is still derived from fossil fuels. Sustainable companies complete energy audits on a regular basis (at least once a year) to determine how much energy their company expends, and in what ways. Most companies find that implementing some simple energy-efficient practices make a significant impact in usage relatively quickly. This includes replacing HVAC filters, switching incandescent bulbs for CFL fixtures, installing programmable thermostats to ensure temperatures stay within an appropriate range, and caulking any leaks that may be bringing in (or letting out) air.

  • Switch to Recyclable Packaging

Choosing alternative packaging materials is another environmentally-friendly choice for today’s manufacturers. Instead of relying heavily on traditional plastics, which can take between 500-1000 years to decompose in a landfill, manufacturers are trending towards recyclable, compostable materials like paperboard, glass, and cardboard. These materials are often already recycled one time over before they are converted into packaging, further reducing a manufacturer’s carbon footprint.

  • Use Renewable Energy

Opting for renewable energy sources is another way manufacturers act sustainably. Johnson & Johnson, for example, is switching over to solar energy, and is now the second largest consumer of solar energy in the United States. Solar panels can be installed on the roof of production plants or on any unobstructed area on the ground. Companies can also intake energy from third-party solar farms where hundreds of solar panels are stationed together. Other types of renewable energies include wind and hydroelectric. All three of these increasingly popular renewable sources are accessible and relatively easy to switch to. Additionally, unlike the oil and gas markets, where prices can fluctuate unpredictably, the market prices for wind and solar are often lower and easier to forecast, which is a bonus for business.

  • Choose Sustainable Sourcing

Manufacturers aren’t just looking at what types of sustainable actions they can take at their own production plants. Those on the forefront of sustainability are also considering their suppliers, specifically where and how the materials they buy to make their products are sourced. This includes considering what types of chemicals and substances are used in materials, as well as how materials are initially harvested. Are materials coming from environmentally fragile parts of the world, or contributing to deforestation and water pollution? Your entire supply chain can be evaluated through the lens of sustainability. As an added bonus, companies that make a conscious effort to keep every part of production environmentally-friendly and decide to share that with customers often benefit from positive branding and higher consumer sentiment.


Does your company follow one or more of these practices? In what other ways are you manufacturing with sustainability in mind? Let us know in the comments section below! For more articles on manufacturing, logistics, and supply chains, be sure to explore the Econo-Courier blog.