Understand what is meant by clean manufacturing. Find out what are the important concepts in tackling sustainability, how to implement clean manufacturing, its economic benefits, and how to achieve it in simple ways.
Published 1 Dec 2022
The industrial sector contributed to 23% of total US greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), ranking third after the transportation and electricity sectors. To address this problem, the US government announced new actions and initiatives across different government agencies on February 15, 2022. They launched America's leadership on clean manufacturing, which involves low-carbon production of materials such as aluminum and steel in heavy industries.
The announcement also included the following:
A few years ago, clean manufacturing, as well as sustainability and green design, were foreign to many industries. But today, different organizations are realizing now the economic and environmental benefits of investing in sustainable production processes and innovations like clean manufacturing.
Clean manufacturing is a production system composed of entire creation cycles that use eco-friendly practices—minimizing the negative environmental impacts (i.e., reduction in waste, energy usage, and carbon footprint), while conserving energy and natural resources.
The Green Suppliers Network defined clean manufacturing as, “a systematic approach to eliminating waste by optimizing use and selection of resources and technologies, thereby lessening the impact on the environment.”
Manufacturing has now become more environmentally-responsible than ever before. Organizations are starting to understand how environment and manufacturing are correlated. The Gujarat Cleaner Production Centre (GCPC) explained 3 common concepts in one of its resources about the introduction to sustainable manufacturing:
Sustainable manufacturing is also a term used when relating to clean manufacturing, sustainable design, or green manufacturing. The US Department of Commerce (DOC) in its Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative (SMI) defined sustainable manufacturing as, “manufacturing processes that minimize negative environmental impacts, conserve energy and natural resources, are safe for employees, communities and consumers and are economically sound.”
The elements of sustainable manufacturing focus on the process of how a product is made and the system of the process. See the illustration below:
Example: HP, one of the largest manufacturers of printers in the world, has been leading closed-loop plastic recycling for decades or using circular economy in their products. HP’s recycling method is able to recycle 1M plastic bottles everyday into new products.
As global emissions rise rapidly, cities and businesses are transitioning to cleaner resources, fuels, and technology. Clean technology, called cleantech, is a general term used to describe products, processes, or services that minimize waste and the use of non-renewable resources.
The Clean Technology Trade Alliance (CTTA), a global non-profit organization leading the initiative of bridging businesses to green technologies, defines cleantech as:
“A broad base of processes, practices and tools, in any industry that supports a sustainable business approach, including but not limited to: pollution control, resource reduction and management, end of life strategy, waste reduction, energy efficiency, carbon mitigation and profitability.”
Cleantech is reshaping industries such as mobility, construction and manufacturing by replacing energy-intensive processes and products with cleaner solutions.
Example: Peregrine.ai uses video analytics to protect vehicles and drivers. This German solution analyzes real-time device traffic data. Peregrine’s technology reduces GHG emissions by preventing accidents and optimizing routes for drivers.
Green design is the process of designing products, services, structures, or experiences to have less environmental impact and use less energy and materials.
Example: Mycelium packaging, made by the company Ecovative, is a better alternative to styrofoam in packaging. Mycelium comes from the roots of mushrooms—it’s a biodegradable material and has a low carbon footprint.
Sustainable manufacturing, clean technologies, and green design are often used interchangeably because of their similarities. At their core, these three concepts are all about sustainability.
“Sustainability is not only central to business strategy, but will increasingly become a critical driver of business growth. How well and how quickly businesses respond to this agenda will determine which companies succeed and which will fail.”—Patrick Cescau, CEO of Unilever
Sustainability is becoming an objective of different organizations and companies nowadays. They have recognized it as a viable strategy to implement in their operations to increase their growth and global competitiveness. Sustainability is a concept wherein water, material, and resource availability for future generations, as well as fulfillment of social and economic demands, are all dependent on the condition that human impact on the environment is sufficiently mitigated.
According to United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
There are a number of reasons why companies are pursuing clean manufacturing:
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Countries and organizations who pledge to achieve Net Zero by 2050 are continuously increasing. The world is becoming more environmentally conscious than ever due to the impact of climate change. Clean manufacturing and green products will become increasingly more common in the coming years, resulting in benefits for both businesses and the community at large. Businesses can contribute to Net Zero by using SafetyCulture!
SafetyCulture is one of the best tools used by different industries, especially in the construction, manufacturing, hospitality, retail, transport and logistics industries, providing a more convenient, efficient, and eco-friendly solution for conducting inspections, assessments, and audits.
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Loida Bauto is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. An Interior Designer by training, she began to pursue her passion for writing in 2017. Her interests involve a diverse range of topics such as Disability, Universal Design, and Sustainability, among other matters that aim to improve the world we live in. She is a self-published book author in 2018 and 2021.
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