The Pursuit of Net Zero in Manufacturing

The need for businesses of all types to become as environmentally friendly as possible has never been more critical. The planet is at a tipping point in terms of global warming, and governments are increasingly looking to businesses to ensure that they are causing as little harm as possible to the environment. And businesses are responding.

According to edie.net, carbon dioxide emissions from manufacturing have gone down by 56.7 million tons between 1990 and 2018, and it is looking likely that the manufacturing sector is on target to be net-zero by 2050.

In some ways, for larger manufacturing companies, becoming net-zero can be easier than for smaller manufacturers – they might have more money to invest in machinery, or be able to support carbon offsetting programs, for example. However, it takes everybody to play their part to be able to make a real difference. Even smaller manufacturers.

There are many ways that smaller manufacturers can make their businesses eco-friendlier, without breaking the bank, and here at Boxpod, we understand that some of it relate to the commercial property that you are using.

The world of manufacturing has always been innovative, coming up with new solutions to challenges, and the green issue is no different.

To look at how manufacturing businesses can help to cut their carbon footprints and do what they can to help the environment, there are three areas to look at – the premises, the products and processes, and the suppliers.

Energy Audit

The first thing on the list is to know where you are right now. An energy audit is a great way to do this and it can be carried out by yourself, or by a third party. An energy auditor can also help to give you ideas on how to improve your sustainability and environmental impact. An energy audit can include not only the premises but the other factors in your business that can affect its environmental impact such as your machinery and processes.

Energy audits can be carried out regularly so that you can see your progress and continue to make improvements as time goes on.

The Premises

It is difficult for a business to reduce its impact on the environment if its premises aren’t compliant. Whether it is the building being adequately insulated, or using renewable energy sources, there is plenty that manufacturing businesses can do to make their workshop or industrial unit eco-friendlier.

These can include everything from ensuring that the building is well-insulated to using low-energy lightbulbs. Programmable thermostats also give you better control over the heat of the building, ensuring that it’s not being heated at times when it does not need to be. Make sure that windows are double glazed or draughtproofed to reduce the heat that is lost through them.

It is also important to ensure that boilers are up to date and as efficient as possible to reduce the amount of energy that is being wasted.

Getting your energy from renewable sources is also important. Whether you get some of your energy through your own solar panels or renewable energy in the National Grid, renewable energy is not only great for the environment, but it is also great for your accounts!

Products and Processes

The products that you are creating and the way that they are created are other aspects of a manufacturing business that needs to be adapted. Some factors that you should check include:

Using recycled materials

Whether you are making a product or packaging to send it, try to use as many recycled materials as possible – as well as materials that can be recycled when they are finished with. This can help you to reduce the amount of landfill waste that the business is producing. You could also consider getting a recycling machine if you create a lot of waste that you could reuse.

Robotics, Automation, and Artificial Intelligence

The role of technology in manufacturing is changing things beyond recognition. Robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence are becoming more commonplace, even in smaller manufacturing companies, and for good reason. Technology can help to make factories more productive and efficient, both reducing the time that it takes to carry out a process, and also reducing the amount of waste that is created.

By using this technology, it can not only be more profitable for the business but also help to make the business greener.

Staff

Staff can play an essential part in improving the eco-friendliness of any business. Ensuring that they put green practises in place is key. This could be anything from trying to work in a paperless manner, to installing electric car charging points in the carpark of the industrial unit. Implementing car-sharing schemes, replacing plastic cups and cutlery, and ensuring that machines and computers are turned off properly when they are not in use are other ideas.

Machinery, Materials, and Technology

At the centre of any manufacturing business is its machinery and parts that are used to create their products. Trying to use ‘green’ materials and machinery is crucial, which means trying to use locally sourced machinery and materials. By using high-quality parts, you can avoid the need for unnecessary replacements – and you could even offer a repair service to back this up.

High quality, efficient machinery is also important, to help to reduce wastage and the amount of energy that you are using to manufacture your goods.

Try to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals, but if you need to use them, ensure that you are disposing of them in the correct, environmentally friendly way.

Suppliers

The final part of the picture relates to your suppliers – the other businesses that you work with and are supporting. Try to support carbon zero, environmentally conscious businesses in your supply chain, such as those who use regenerative agriculture and ethical methods, for example.

In addition to the benefits for the planet of becoming an eco-friendly manufacturer, there are others for your business. For example, you can create a happier workforce, knowing that they have the moral high ground over others – and perhaps being able to attract better candidates. You can also save yourself money, and create a better company image, so what do you have to lose?

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