Report Documents Sustainable Manufacturing Success Stories

Sustainability is a growing concern for manufacturers, as more manufacturers are becoming aware of the benefits of eco-friendly practices.

In a blog from September, “NFL Team Takes A Stand On Sustainable Food Manufacturing,” I cited an October 2014 report on sustainable manufacturing. The report, entitled “Success Paths to Sustainable Manufacturing,” is authored by Indiana University’s School of Public & Environmental Affairs researchers, Sanya Carley and Jerry Jasinowski.

The report is an in-depth collection and analysis of data from twelve surveyed companies, including Caterpillar, Cummins, Dupont, Eli Lilly, EMC Corporation, Ford, General Dynamics, General Motors, and Proctor & Gamble. Each company provides examples of specific sustainable manufacturing success paths.

Sustainability is a growing concern for manufacturers, as more manufacturers are becoming aware of the benefits of eco-friendly practices. The report defines sustainable manufacturing as “Using less energy and fewer resources to produce a product that is just as effective and at least the same quality as the product it is replacing,” and it performs and in-depth analysis of the six main reasons why companies pursue sustainable manufacturing.

These main reasons are “1) The economic gains that are realized as a result of their initiatives, 2) the social commitment it demonstrates to their community and to stakeholders, 3) to meet regulatory requirements and to use fewer resources and hazardous chemicals, 4) to meet consumer expectations, 5) awards and media attention garnered by initiatives, 6) hiring gains due to being a successful sustainable manufacturing company.”

The report focuses on the fact that are many ways to incorporate sustainable practices. It reads, “Today’s sustainable manufacturing employs…lean, green, Total Quality Management, and Corporate Social Responsibility to ensure increased efficiency by reducing wastes like time and space, in addition to not wasting new and innovative ideas from employees; reducing the amount of energy and water that goes into a manufactured product; and exhibiting awareness of the effects of manufacturing processes on employees and local communities.”

“Success Paths to Sustainable Manufacturing” also cites common themes in the successful paths documented by the surveyed companies, including the importance of flexible goals, good communication, a culture of corporate sustainability, and innovation.

Sanya Carley, a head researcher on the report, says, “Our report should serve as an incentive to pursue sustainable manufacturing. This process doesn’t require a lot of up-front efforts and companies can start with adapting little things. Across the board, sustainable manufacturing pays dividends faster than expected, for the company, the people involved, and for the community.”

To learn more about sustainable manufacturing and concrete steps your company can take to benefit the community, the environment, and the bottom line, read the full report here.

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