What is Green Manufacturing and Why is It Important?

Brahm Meka
August 11, 2023
7 min
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Green Manufacturing - Using green energy

Are you aware of the growing environmental consciousness among consumers and businesses alike?

As a manufacturer, you might ask - why should this matter to me? Well, it's simple. Adopting manufacturing practices that minimize environmental harm is no longer just an option—it's a necessity.

Not convinced yet? Consider this - reducing your carbon footprint could potentially boost your customer base and enhance customer loyalty. Now, that's a win-win, isn't it?

Let's dive deeper and explore what green manufacturing really is, and why it's so vital for your business's future.

What is green manufacturing?

Green manufacturing is a way that all manufacturers can help make the environment better. This will help stop or slow down man-made disasters from happening.

Green manufacturing, also called green production, is the renewal of production processes and the establishment of environmentally-friendly operations within the manufacturing field. This means that workers use fewer natural resources, reduce pollution and waste, recycle and reuse materials, and moderate emissions in their processes.

Green manufacturers use technologies and practices that help them have a smaller environmental impact.

When you think of manufacturing, you might think of big factories that pollute the environment.

As a small business manufacturer, you may think, “I make small jewelry, it's the big corporations that pollute, and they need to clean up.”

However, where do you think your waste goes even if you produce a small amount of waste?  

According to a CBS News Poll, 70% of Americans believe human activity contributes to climate change. This means that we are doing things that are causing the Earth to get warmer. 56% of Americans believe we should act now to stop this from happening.

It is good for the environment and your business to make products in a way that does not damage the environment. This is because more and more consumers only want to buy from businesses that make products in a way that does not hurt the environment.

If you want to help save the environment, read on to learn more about how to produce things in an eco-friendly way, how you can start manufacturing eco-friendly products, and how to implement these strategies into your business.

Further Reading: The ultimate guide to raw material inventory management

What is the purpose of green manufacturing?

Green manufacturing means making products using processes that do not hurt the environment. This includes using renewable resources like solar and wind power instead of things that will run out, like oil.

Many manufacturers are starting to practice eco-friendly methods, and consumers are beginning to prefer these manufacturers. Businesses and shoppers choose companies that care about the environment over those that don't.

The main goals of becoming a green manufacturing company are:

  • Use fewer natural resources
  • Reduce pollution and waste
  • Recycle and reuse materials
  • Reduce the amount of harmful gases that are released into the air during production.

If someone wants to make their manufacturing process more environmentally friendly, they need to research to figure out the best ways to lower their impact. They can use innovative technologies to help them with this.

For growing manufacturing companies, it could be as easy as understanding the concept of lean manufacturing.

Can Manufacturing Be Sustainable?

Let's clarify the terminology first before discussing the benefits of Green Manufacturing for your company. Currently, sustainability is not a common practice in the manufacturing industry.

Imagine the world of manufacturing - where raw materials are transformed into finished goods. Sounds straightforward, right? But here's the catch - this process isn't exactly sustainable. So, what's the antidote? Welcome to the concept of sustainable business, a world where inputs and outputs are interchangeable. Picture it as a closed-loop, or as you might have heard, 'cradle to cradle'. Now, what would this look like in a manufacturing plant? Let's delve in:

  • It generates more energy than it consumes - sounds impressive, doesn't it?
  • It births more new materials than it utilizes - quite a feat, isn't it?
  • Imagine a plant that produces zero waste - a clean, green dream!
  • What if it could purify more air and water than it pollutes - a breath of fresh air, indeed!

Now, you might be thinking, "That seems like a tall order!" And you're right. Today, any company that can achieve even one of these sustainable feats proudly wears it as a badge of environmental leadership. And those managing to tick all the boxes? Well, they're still a rare breed, but wouldn't it be amazing if they weren't?

Sustainable manufacturing examples

Achieving genuine sustainability in manufacturing isn't a piece of cake, yet there are numerous shining examples out there. While it's hard to say if these organizations tick all the boxes, they certainly model best practices.

Let's take a look:

  • Ever heard of Sierra Nevada? This popular California beer brand is making waves with its sustainable practices. They compost brewing waste into the soil at their California facilities. The result? Enhanced soil fertility, perfect for growing fresh barley and hops for future brews.
  • Next on our list is Patagonia - a US-based outdoor clothing retailer. As of 2020, they've achieved 100% renewable electricity in the US and 76% globally through a mix of on-site and off-site installations. But wait, there’s more - in 2020, 94% of their product line was made from recycled materials, and they repaired over 100,000 garments to extend their lifespan. Plus, they generously donate 1% of their annual net revenues to charities promoting environmental conservation and sustainability.
  • And let's not forget Germany's Siemens AG. With their 2020 spin-off, Siemens Energy Global, they've become a significant supplier of renewable power and energy solutions for the developing world.

However, it's worth noting that these companies are in the minority. For many manufacturers, numerous hurdles have made it tough to achieve true sustainability. That's where the Green Manufacturing approach has proven to be a game-changer.

How will green manufacturing benefit my business?

There are many good reasons to switch to green manufacturing, including helping the environment and saving money.

If you follow the green manufacturing definition correctly, you can expect to see the following benefits:

Public Relations

If your company does an excellent job with green manufacturing, tell people about it. This can help improve how people see your company and make them want to buy from you.

A 2019 survey found that 37% of people cite environmental impact as a factor they consider before making a purchase, so making your manufacturing greener can significantly impact your sales.

As you can see from APP’s Crunchbase profile, it can make a big difference. Asia Pulp & Paper makes sure its business practices are sustainable. The best businesses are doing something to be green, and if your business is too, then you will stand out from others.

Employee Motivation and Recruitment

Public relations is vital for more than just selling products. A positive image can also help motivate employees because it makes them feel like they are working for a good company and that their work is making a difference.

This also goes for when you are trying to get new employees. People care about the environment. If you have good green credentials, it will help you get the best employees over other businesses.

Building a Healthier Workplace

Imagine working in a business that's not just about profits but also about safeguarding our planet's future. Sounds impressive, right? That's the beauty of running a green business—it creates a healthier environment for everyone involved. This isn't just great for the Earth—it can also supercharge your team's morale, productivity, and sense of pride in their work.

But how do you make a business 'green'? Well, it's all about embracing things like green technology, offering recycling options, using green cleaning products, and even going paperless. Even something as simple as electronic paychecks can make a difference. Each step reinforces your company's commitment to a sustainable future—something that's worth more than gold in today's world.

Meet Your Consumers Demands

Did you know that consumers are becoming increasingly mindful of the environmental footprint left by manufacturing? This newfound consciousness is compelling them to seek out products crafted with sustainable materials and created through eco-friendly manufacturing methods. Is your business keeping up with this trend? By embracing green manufacturing, you can not only rise to meet these growing demands but also gain a competitive edge in your market.

Embracing Innovation and Exploring Cutting-edge Technologies

Going green will push you to Innovate. By aiming to become a green manufacturer, you're signing up for more productivity, shorter lead times, and greater capacity.

Let's put this into perspective. Imagine you're deploying cutting-edge technologies to track and measure your Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). What happens? Your company inevitably starts making more with less, using fewer resources to produce the same product. Now, that's the magic of green manufacturing!

Increased profit and shareholder value

It has been established that incorporating sustainable practices into a company's operations can yield profitable outcomes. Bob Willard, a renowned expert in this field, has estimated that businesses can experience a significant increase in profits ranging from 51% to 81% within a time frame of 3-5 years when they implement such practices. This evidence further supports the notion that sustainability is not just a moral obligation but also a financially sound strategy for companies to adopt.

Tax Benefits

Many state and national governments offer money or help to companies using green manufacturing methods. Going green can have significant upfront costs, but many programs help you get started.

Governments don’t want huge polluters in their territories, so they must encourage manufacturers to use green manufacturing practices. Your business can take advantage of this, making the transition easier.

Research your available options and find out what financial incentives your business can benefit from.

Let's take a moment to see how we can use our understanding of the definition of green manufacturing to put it into practice.

How to get started with green manufacturing

You can take numerous concrete steps to begin your green production journey. Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Design for disassembly, remanufacture or reuse. Make products so they can be taken apart and the parts used again in new products.

2. Rethink product and process technology. Reduce the number of parts per product. This will help the environment and save resources. Minimize the number of process steps to make it more efficient.

3. Streamline the supply chain. Reduce inventory by using just-in-time manufacturing. This means making products only when there is an order for them. Switch to paperless inventory control. Source materials and parts locally.

4. Reduce energy and water consumption. Adding energy management software to your building equipment can help make processes more efficient. Upgrading processes and office equipment with fewer energy models can also help save money and conserve resources.

5. Choose recyclable or biodegradable materials and packaging. This gives your products a competitive advantage.

6. Integrate environmental costs into your production budget. When you know how much it truly costs to make a product, you can figure out ways to reduce its environmental impact.

7. Find a reverse logistics supply vendor. These firms help companies eliminate products they do not need anymore. The firms take these products back and reuse them or recycle them for parts.

Once you determine what you can improve to achieve green manufacturing, you need to find software to help you reach your targets when reducing waste.

Innovative manufacturing software for green manufacturing

We have made much progress since the industrial revolution, but we still have more to do. Some people think that only new technology can help us make our factories green, but that is not true. There are already systems in place that can help us make our factories green.

Yes, our future green technology may be in the form of AI, which is more intelligent than humans.

But, until then, tools are available to help you track your inventory and production, so you can easily understand what changes your company needs to make to become a "green" manufacturing company.

And that’s where Brahmin Solutions comes into play, ERP manufacturing software designed by manufacturers, for manufacturers.

Brahmin Solutions helps you manage your whole business from start to finish using one visual platform that is easy to understand. This means you can quickly determine which parts of your manufacturing process are wasting the most resources and then make changes to improve those processes.

Brahmin Solutions can effortlessly help you convert your factory over to a green production with its:

Smart Inventory Allocation

An inventory allocation engine is a tool any business can use to become a more environmentally friendly company. Brahmin Solutions will autonomously take any available stock and automatically allocate it to open orders. If a product is unavailable, Brahmin Solutions will show you the missing materials needed to create that product.

Raw Materials and Finished Goods Inventory Management  

Raw material management is the bane of every manufacturer, green or not. Therefore, you want a tool to track your inventory movements, which will help you identify any potential dead stock so you can remove it from your inventory.

You can also use this information to help you figure out which materials you need to order more of so you don't run out during a busy time. You can also develop a plan to use any leftover materials.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of how you feel about eco-friendly manufacturing, it would be best to consider investing in technology that will help the environment in the future.

Even if you don’t think global warming is a problem, your customers probably do.

If people find out that your company is not trying to reduce its impact on the environment, it will damage your reputation. This will turn potential customers away and compromise your business’s chance of making a sale.

So, why not see what you can do to attempt green manufacturing? Even if it’s just taking better care of your raw materials!

Check out Brahmin Solutions and talk to our inventory rep to see how we can help you go green.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us. We'll be happy to help.

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Brahm Meka
Founder & CEO

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