In recent years, companies that choose to adopt sustainable or "green" manufacturing processes have often done so to increase consumer goodwill and enhance community reputation.
But today, many of those same companies are realizing there are additional high-value gains to be made from shifting their operations in sustainable, eco-friendly directions.
Specifically, many of these early adopters are now reporting quantifiable savings that build over time. In this article, learn the major reasons you may want to consider embracing sustainable manufacturing in your own operations.
What Is Sustainable Manufacturing?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sustainable manufacturing is manufacturing that demonstrates these three key goals:
1. Reduction in negative impact to the environment.
2. Adoption of business processes that minimize use of energy and natural resources.
3. Improvements to safety for employees, consumers and products.
5 Key Reasons to Embrace Sustainable Manufacturing
These are the main reasons to embrace sustainable manufacturing as cited by early adopters.
1. Gain valuable tax incentives.
As the National Institute of Standards and Technology (U.S. Department of Commerce) explains, companies that adopt sustainable manufacturing processes stand to reap the rewards in the form of tax credits, rebates and incentives.
These can change from year to year so it is important to stay up to date on both federal and state tax incentives for the current tax year.
2. Reduce overhead and energy costs.
Sustainable manufacturing processes encourage a systematic review of all business expenses, from utilities to supplies, office protocols to product packaging.
These types of changes should be approached for their potential to deliver longer-term reductions in overhead and energy expenses.
For example, a change to energy efficient bulbs should be done as your existing bulbs burn out. Initially, the new bulbs may cost more but they will last twice or three times as long. So you may even see a temporary spike to your overhead in the short-term, followed by a long-term reduction in overhead expenses.
The same holds true when transitioning to a paperless workplace, installing low-flow faucets and fixtures, changing over to recyclable packaging and shifting to sustainable energy sources.
3. Attract new customers and increase sales.
According to ColoradoBiz magazine, a full three-quarters of millennial consumers report making shopping decisions in part based on the company's commitment to the environment.
The same consumer group reports being willing to pay higher prices for sustainably-manufactured products!
4. Sustainability represents the necessary business future.
As IMD Research & Knowledge reports, major brands such as Nike, Unilever, Tesla, H&M and others have begun shifting their business processes in sustainable directions.
Right now, choosing to adopt environmentally friendly so-called "green" business practices is still an option - one among many.
But as these major brands are mirroring, the day may soon come when sustainable operations are the only remaining option.
For example, over time dwindling fossil fuels will force increased adoption of wind, solar and geothermal energy sources. Early adopters stand to gain in every way, whether through tax incentives or increased customer goodwill and employee morale.
In this sense, companies that want to and plan to be around and profitable for many years to come should be starting now to shift towards sustainable manufacturing.
5. Attract a higher caliber of employees through innovation.
Finally, as CAD Crowd points out, companies that are embracing sustainable manufacturing are also innovating at a faster pace than their competitors.
Millennial workers in particular are notoriously fickle in the workplace unless they are given ample opportunities to contribute and participate in innovation.
Being perceived as a workplace that encourages individual creativity through innovation, you stand to attract and retain a higher caliber of worker who will contribute to your bottom line in lasting ways.
Sustainable manufacturing is good for businesses, their employees and customers, vendors and suppliers and - most importantly - the environment and the planet.