Eco-friendly Manufacturing Processes: Why and How?
Manufacturing is one of the most important sectors of the global economy, but it also has a significant environmental impact. According to the World Bank, manufacturing accounted for 16% of global CO2 emissions in 2014. Moreover, manufacturing processes often consume large amounts of energy, water, and raw materials and generate waste and pollution that affect the health and well-being of people and the planet.
Therefore, there is an urgent need for the manufacturing industry to adopt eco-friendly processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving resources and enhancing product quality and safety.
Eco-friendly manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically sound processes that reduce emissions, waste, and resource consumption, and improve the life cycle of products.
Eco-friendly manufacturing can also bring many benefits to the manufacturers, such as:
✅ Lower operational costs by reducing energy and water bills, waste disposal fees, and regulatory compliance costs
✅ Increased competitiveness and market share by meeting the growing demand from customers and investors for sustainable products and practices
✅ Enhanced reputation and brand value by demonstrating social and environmental responsibility and leadership
✅ Improved innovation and productivity by adopting new technologies and methods that optimize processes and performance
✅ Increased employee engagement and retention by creating a safe and healthy work environment and a positive organizational culture
Examples of Eco-friendly Manufacturing Processes in India and the US
Many manufacturers around the world are taking steps to implement eco-friendly manufacturing processes in their operations. Here are some examples from India and the US, two of the largest manufacturing economies in the world.
Eco-friendly Manufacturing Processes in India
India is one of the fastest-growing manufacturing economies in the world, but it also faces many environmental challenges, such as air and water pollution, resource depletion, and climate change. To address these issues, the Indian government and the private sector have launched several initiatives and programs to promote green manufacturing in the country.
One of these initiatives is the Green Manufacturing Challenge (GMC), a platform that recognizes and rewards manufacturers who have adopted green manufacturing practices and achieved significant results in improving their environmental performance.
The GMC is organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and covers various sectors, such as automotive, chemicals, consumer goods, electronics, metals, pharmaceuticals, and textiles.
Some of the winners of the GMC awards in 2020-21 include:
✅ Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), a consumer goods company, for reducing its water consumption by 54%, energy consumption by 32%, and greenhouse gas emissions by 55% per ton of production across its 30 manufacturing sites in India.
✅ Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd., a beverage company, for achieving water neutrality by recharging more water than it consumes, and reducing its energy consumption by 18% and greenhouse gas emissions by 28% per liter of beverage produced across its 18 manufacturing plants in India.
✅ Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., a pharmaceutical company, for implementing various measures to reduce its energy consumption by 21%, water consumption by 23%, and waste generation by 29% per unit of production across its 15 manufacturing sites in India.
Eco-friendly Manufacturing Processes in US
The US is the world’s second-largest manufacturing economy, but it also has a high environmental footprint, accounting for 15% of global CO2 emissions in 2014. To reduce its environmental impact and enhance its competitiveness, the US government and the private sector have been supporting and implementing various initiatives and programs to foster sustainable manufacturing in the country.
One of these initiatives is the Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative (SMI), a program that provides information, tools, and resources to help manufacturers improve their environmental performance and increase their profitability.
The SMI is led by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and involves collaboration with other federal agencies, industry associations, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations.
Some of the resources offered by the SMI include:
✅ The E3 Framework, a collaborative approach that helps manufacturers assess and improve their energy efficiency, environmental performance, and economic competitiveness.
✅ The Green Suppliers Network, a partnership program that helps small and medium-sized manufacturers adopt lean and clean practices to reduce waste, save energy, and increase productivity.
✅ The Economy, Energy and Environment (E3) Awards, a recognition program that honors manufacturers who have achieved excellence in sustainable manufacturing through the E3 Framework.
Some of the winners of the E3 Awards in 2019 include:
✅ Borosil Renewables Ltd., a glass manufacturer, for reducing its energy consumption by 11%, water consumption by 25%, and greenhouse gas emissions by 40% per ton of glass produced at its manufacturing plant in Gujarat.
✅ Schneider Electric, a global leader in energy management and automation, for reducing its energy consumption by 26%, water consumption by 51%, and greenhouse gas emissions by 42% per unit of production at its manufacturing plant in Lexington, Kentucky.
✅ UPL Ltd., a global provider of sustainable agriculture solutions, reduced its energy consumption by 18%, water consumption by 28%, and waste generation by 36% per ton of product produced at its manufacturing plant in Gujarat
In the End…
Eco-friendly manufacturing is not only a necessity but also an opportunity for the manufacturing industry to create value for itself and society. By adopting eco-friendly manufacturing processes, manufacturers can reduce their environmental impact, improve their operational efficiency, enhance their market position, and contribute to green growth and sustainable development. Eco-friendly manufacturing is the way forward for the manufacturing industry in the 21st century.