3 Ways You’re Throwing Green Down the Drain

· by Caitlin Cullen

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Going Green impacts your bottom line. Did you know that by going green, you’re actually SAVING GREEN?

Here are 3 areas to focus on with Green Manufacturing:

  1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions

What are they?

Gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect include water vapor, nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide. The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. Federal government has put regulations in place to monitor and decrease the release of these harmful emissions into our atmosphere. However, it’s not enough to make a substantial difference.

Why does it matter to your company?

Manufacturing accounts for more than a quarter of U.S. energy use. Alternative fuel sources, renewable energy and efficient energy can reduce costs while still strengthening the manufacturing sector – doing so in a responsible, “green” manner.

How does it impact the bottom line?

Old machinery can consume up to 70 percent more energy than it really needs to. Basically, you’re using more electricity to fuel a sluggish machine and as a by-product, excess emissions, lost time, and lost money.

  1. Water

We have plenty, right?

Virtually everything we do requires water. We have to be smarter about how we use it and even more careful about what we do with water once we’re done with it.  The population is growing exponentially, thus driving the demand for water – but this resource is not infinite.

Why does it matter to your company?

The U.S. Census Bureau has estimated that “the U.S. manufacturing industry requires 18 billion GPD of water for use in production operations.” Automotive manufacturing is at the top of this list. It takes almost 40,000 gallons of water to make an average domestic vehicle.

How does it impact the bottom line?

You pay for the water you use. So, use less!  A line item on your utilities statement shows how much your water bill is each month, but do you actually know where all of that water is going? What it’s being used for? Simply knowing how much water you use and monitoring those numbers can help to pinpoint areas to conserve.  Broaden the scope of your KPIs – add a reduction of water consumption to the list while you’re reviewing the monthly financials. Remember, repairing or replacing equipment is a big deal. Inefficiency in carrying water to and through your production process is extremely costly.

There’s still the question of what to do with water once it’s been used….use it again! According to http://UN.org, “more than 80 percent of all the wastewater from industry, homes, cities and agriculture flows back into the ecosystem via lakes, rivers and other bodies of surface water”, polluting everything in its path. Contaminated water disposal is expensive. Wastewater treatment systems treat used water and return the treated, usable water back into the environment, while providing a clear spend with ROI. By adopting a formal wastewater treatment and reuse policy,  you can dramatically cut rising operational costs while increasing profitability. Check out different types of water treatment processes, here.

  1. Recycling & Waste

It goes beyond your soda bottle.

This one’s simple. Recycle…everything possible!  No one and dones. We just talked about recycling water, so you’ve already got that in your pocket. Try using recycled materials instead of raw materials, when possible. Additionally, think about what parts of your finished goods are recyclable as well.

Why does it matter to my company?

What do you do with scraps? Your company could reprocess scraps and use them for finished products. “For instance, wood scraps can be ground into sawdust and then compressed into composite boards. Non-recyclable plastics can be shredded and pressed into low-cost building materials. Organics can be composted as ‘nutritional soil’ for local parks. Cotton and denim scraps that cannot be reused in the garment industry can be recycled into a building insulation product. Paper and cardboard can be recycled into cellulose insulation. And, many metals can be melted and remolded for other uses” (https://www.generalkinematics.com/blog/how-to-expand-recycling-in-your-manufacturing-process/).

How does this impact the bottom line?

North American steel making furnaces eat an estimated 70 million tons of steel scrap. That’s a lot of steel. Material planning is also incredibly important when it comes to your bottom line. Less scraps, or less waste, exist if you are using materials more efficiently in the first place.

How can I start taking action?

This is a lot, I know. To implement processes and strategies like this, you need a person or team dedicated to doing it.  Green jobs are on the rise – and for good reason.  These jobs highly specialize in keeping to your existing KPIs while reducing your carbon footprint and helping you manufacture responsibly. “Businesses shouldn’t see pressure to make their operations greener as a burden. Rather, sustainability is an opportunity, and striving for it will help ensure long-term success” (https://www.wipfli.com/insights/blogs/manufacturing-tomorrow-blog/160628-examples-of-manufacturers-that-are-going-green).

In summary, the bottom line is that change starts with YOU. YOU can make a difference and you should – we are all responsible. Feeling overwhelmed? Here is a great resource for SIMPLE ANSWERS to complicated questions.

 

Did you know that in addition to dated machinery, an inefficient workforce causes an exponential decrease in production? Are your employees increasing your carbon footprint?