6 ways to green your manufacturing business

If there is one trend that every business owner, no matter the industry, should embrace, that is turning their business environmentally friendly. For some industries, it does not involve much change, but for those who are responsible for a large environmental footprint, such as the manufacturing industry, turning your business green does involve some changes.

Technology and business processes have evolved precisely to help manufacturers lower the impact their business has on the environment. With some adjustments in the way you are conducting business, you can follow the trend too and better your business processes, as well as reputation. 

Conduct periodic energy audits

In terms of costs, there is no hiding the fact that manufacturing businesses spend most on energy bills. Despite this, less than half of manufacturers conduct annual energy audits. If your goal is to reduce the amount of energy used, you must first measure how much energy your business is using. This is what energy audits are for.

During the inspection, all your equipment and business processes will be verified to find out which of the systems are wasting energy and what you can do to improve on this aspect. Old and inefficient equipment is not the only way you can waste energy.

Faulty energy and heating installation are one of the main causes of waste. By locating inefficient areas and making use of energy-saving tools, you will not only reduce waste, but also minimize your bills. Initial costs might be a scare, but the return will convince you to take this step.

Switch to renewable energy

The best way to both improve sustainability, and reduce energy usage, is to switch to reusable energy. Solar, wind and hydro energy are much more cost effective than fossil fuel. While it is true that you can not completely rely on renewable energy overnight, but you can start small, by installing a few solar panels and make a plan to entirely switch to renewable energy in a couple of years.

The simplest way to switch to renewable energy is to set milestones. Plan to make small, but significant changes every year and make sure to make use of government programs that aim to help businesses turn green. You can benefit from cost reductions, as well as funding for installing solar panels or ground source heat pumps.

Change outdated practices and equipment

Another way to reduce the carbon footprint of your business is to completely replace old and inefficient equipment. The first change you need to make, if you did not already do so, is to switch all light bulbs for incandescent to LED bulbs. LED bulbs last 35 times more than incandescent ones and use up to 75% less energy.

Another relatively small, but important change you can make is to check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems and see if they work properly. If not, then make some small adjustment. If the AC system is old, consider replacing it and always make sure to keep up to date with routine checkups. Check the insulation system as well, to make sure the cool or hot air stays inside the facility.

By using thermostats, you can control the temperature in the room, to make sure energy does not go to waste. Smart thermostats, for example, allow you to set the temperature to go up or down based on the time of the day. This way, it can be set at a lower temperature outside of working hours and can be programmed to reach a higher one when employees are at work.

Consider the health of your employees

If you truly want to be a green business, you must think about your employees’ safety and health just as much. Employees who are working in the manufacturing industry are known for always working in somewhat toxic and exhausting environments. Disrupt the culture by makings some small but important changes. First of all, allow employees to take periodic breaks, so that they can go outside and enjoy some fresh air. Set up some green areas outside of the facility, where they can eat lunch or simply relax for 10 minutes.

If some of their tasks involve welding, make sure to invest in welding fume extraction systems, so that you are in line with the legal requirements, as well as protect your employees from inhaling toxic fumes. Other safety means include good ventilation and lighting, as well as heating or cooling systems, to avoid exposing them to unpleasant environments.

Use eco-friendly products and materials

If your business is eco-friendly, make sure you only associate yourself with eco-friendly partners as well. Don’t know where to start? Switch conventional cleaning products, which are doing a lot of damage to the environment, with eco-friendly ones. Green products contain fewer chemicals and are much safer for people to use and work around them. They also use recyclable packages, making it easier to deal with waste.

Look for vendors who provide raw materials sourced out of waste streams or recycled centers as well. The recycling business is getting bigger and bigger, so there are plenty of vendors you can reach out to. If manufactures turn to recycled materials, they will pressure vendors to provide such resources.

Recycle and reuse as much as you can

Be mindful about the way you dispose of waste. Make use of everything as much as you can and only dispose of things when they are 100% worn out. Cardboard boxes, for example, can be reused multiple times before being thrown away, and so can other products.

If you don’t dispose of waste carefully, then all your good work was in vain. Contact recycling companies and find out how they can help you dispose of waste in a conscious way. Waste sent to the landfills will simply sit there and become a hazard. Lots of companies that handle waste disposal offer consultation and can help you come up with ways to either reuse or safely dispose of what you consider waste.