Sustainability is a big issue in the manufacturing industry. With each passing day, the environmental crises affecting the Earth become harder and harder to solve, which is why it is vital for companies to do everything that they can to reduce their environmental impact. In this article we’ll take a look at steps your business could take to become more eco-friendly as well as the benefits these measures entail.
Energy Use and the Environment
A good place to start is for employers to learn more about the environment. The Procedia Manufacturing journal provides a fantastic report on environmental issues and how to help solve them. In the 12th volume of this journal, scientist Geoffrey R. Mitchell summarises the fears that many of the world’s scientists have for our futures. The outlook is quite dystopian as he states:
‘So while it is clear that we all need to take action, it is not so clear as to the outcomes in later years. However, we know that action is essential to avoid a high risk of disaster’.
It is estimated that in the years between 2000-2010, greenhouse gases increased by 2.2% as compared to the total greenhouse gases emitted over the entirety of the years between 1970 and 2000. The industry sector accounts for roughly a quarter of emissions, so it has the most power to make a change to the effects of global warming.
Invest in Improvement – Upgrades
With so much power to make a change, it is important for the manufacturing industry to invest in more sustainable technologies. It is suspected that the amount of energy used in the industry could be reduced by 25% if companies were to upgrade and replace their current technologies with more efficient systems saving your company money on energy bills in the long run. Airedale Springs moved into its new premises in May 2012, fitted out with a compressed air system manufactured to the latest technology at the time. Only six years later technology has improved and our old compressor has been replaced saving an additional 10% in electrical consumption.
If companies can keep up with new technologies, it’s speculated that these innovations could continue to see vast decreases in energy consumption in the future.
Invest in Improvement – Recycle
Recycling is another beneficial way for you and your company to reduce your emissions, and if you already recycle, you could consider how you might be able to improve your current methods. It might be too complicated or costly to recycle in-house, but don’t be afraid to look into outsourcing your recycling; you could still save money.
Invest in Improvement – Cross-cutting
This approach refers to sharing your manufacturing space. This could involve crafting a different product in order to make the most of any wasteful processes in your current set-up, or it could mean inviting a new company into your work space that can profit from your inefficient processes. This could include the sharing of infrastructures, information and waste heat by different companies, and could save money for both parties. Think smartly about your waste.
Invest in Improvement – Small Steps
Another way for your company to improve its emissions is through the little actions you can take to reduce energy consumption, such as switching off unnecessary lights and computer screens, or by making sure the heating for your building is efficient by using timers. Another easy trick is to convert your lighting fixtures to CFL bulbs – Compact Fluorescent Light – which gives off the same amount of light but far more effectively and efficiently.
Benefits of Being Environmentally Friendly
There are plenty of worthwhile benefits to making your company more environmentally friendly, aside from the obvious world-saving benefits. You can expect to cut costs on energy bills, inadvertently become more efficient and streamlined in your manufacturing processes, and maybe even garner some good publicity.
At Airedale Springs, we are dedicated to helping conserve the environment and are also a propagator of sustainability in the manufacturing industry. Our decision to improve our way of working has helped us to win the Keighley Environmentally Friendly Business Award of 2013, as well being named runner-up for the prestigious EEF environmental awards in 2013 too.
As part of the construction of our premises we wished to ensure that it was environmentally friendly as possible. To meet our stated objectives we invested in 132 solar panels as part of the construction which generate on average 15% of our total energy consumption. As well as saving money on purchasing less energy we get paid for generating it.
We believe that environmental concerns should be at the forefront of every company’s aims; as spring manufacturers, we will continue to do our bit for the environment over the coming years.