A Push for Sustainable Eco-Manufacturing

It’s no secret companies have been investing for years in practices that save energy, reduce costs, cut down on waste byproducts and generally move towards more of an environmental business model. Just recently, however, some big brands have announced new manufacturing plans or celebrated milestones revolved around eco-friendly design and production.

Just this week, Starbucks announced it plans to invest millions of its research & development funds towards a fully recyclable, compostable drink cup. Estimates pin the coffee giant as responsible for somewhere around 1% (6 billion) of all paper and plastic cups used in the world, so the environmental shift could have a big impact. In other plans to reduce waste, Gap Inc. plans to rework its mills and laundry facilities to save upwards of 10 billion liters of water in the next two years. This isn’t the first time the company has invested in sustainability. They created their own sustainability program in 2013 to emphasize efficiency and environmental footprint reduction in textile mills. In 2016, they launched their own program that washes denim at upwards of 20% less water than standard practices. Lastly, Adidas announced that it surpassed sales of 1 million pairs of shoes made from ocean plastic and recycled polyester.

Eco-conscious product development and production processes are clearly seeing dividends in both money saved and good publicity earned. Large companies certainly have the capital to make sweeping changes to their production processes and try entirely new things, but it can be trickier for small companies to invest in entirely new technologies and product development. Here are a few things you can consider to be as eco-conscious as possible:

• Have a local water company audit your company’s usage to find waste so your water usage can be as efficient as possible.
• Review building seals and caulking to make sure heating/cooling is being used efficiently.
• Invest in as many paperless processes as possible, including:
o Direct paycheck deposits
o Electronic tax forms
o Electronic order forms and receipts
• Utilize on-site drinking fountains to cut down on plastic bottle usage.
• Research how much of daily-used materials are recyclable and instill a companywide initiative.
You don’t need to invest millions in research and development to make a push towards eco-friendly manufacturing, but taking a page out of the book of some larger companies can certainly act as a launching point. What are some ways your business is making a change towards eco-manufacturing? Are you investing in compostable products or sustainable water usage? Let us know in the comments below.

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