Green Manufacturing: Current Innovations Changing the Industry
Sustainability is everything in this world we live in today. Read on to learn about green manufacturing techniques and their role in planet sustainability.
Keyword(s): green manufacturing
Despite its decline over the last half-century, the manufacturing sector produces $1.7 trillion in value each year. It is responsible for 9% of jobs in the US workforce.
That being said, the US is still the biggest manufacturing country in the world. And it is rapidly transitioning to green manufacturing practices. This will reduce the overall impact on our environment.
Green manufacturing processes aim to cut waste and use minimum natural resources. This will save them for future generations.
Global awareness of environmental destruction is on the rise. So is the acceptance of eco-friendly products. It’s no wonder why manufacturers are taking innovative steps towards green production.
Here are a few ways how they’re doing so.
Minimizing Use of Natural Resources
This is the cornerstone of green manufacturing. Our natural resources are being depleted to meet the growing demand for products. Green production incorporates changing both major and minor inputs to the manufacturing process.
How are manufacturers doing this? By switching a non-renewable component for one that has been or can be recycled. Or by reusing internal waste such as water, energy, and some chemicals or metals.
Cradle to Cradle Design
Eco-friendly manufacturing doesn’t have to start and end in the factory. Designers are now taking a cradle to cradle design approach. They’re taking into consideration a product’s environmental impact throughout its lifecycle.
Design aspects include reducing or eliminating resource use, waste, and pollution. They take into account the production process, distribution, disposal, or reuse of the product.
Developing New Materials
The use of carbon-intensive materials is part of what got us here in the first place. Now manufacturers are developing new, less carbon-intensive materials to replace the old ones.
This is being done by finding more environmentally friendly alternatives. For example, electronic manufactures are now packing their products using wheat straw packaging.
Eco-friendly materials made from wheat straw are broken down in an organic process that leads to a 40% savings in energy. They also reduce water use in production by 90%.
Green electronic materials are even incorporated into the tech industry. This cuts down on the use of non-renewable or toxic materials.
There exist a bacteria called Geobacter that produces bio-wire. It can be grown on organic crop residue that acts as feedstock for this sustainable material.
The Difference in Green Manufacturing Energy Consumption
Some companies are switching from traditional energy sources such as oil and coal. Some of these renewable energy sources include solar, wind, hydropower, and landfill gas.
Replacing these non-renewable energy sources with renewable ones is key. Green manufacturing companies can reduce emissions and cut energy costs. This limits their impact on the globe, saving natural resources for future generations.
In 2016 solar power became the cheapest form of energy. Tesla has designed a factory that will be entirely energy self-reliant, with most of its energy coming from solar power.
More and more factories are turning to solar power to cut costs and join the green revolution. As it turns out, large, flat factory roofs are an ideal location for solar panels.
Utilizing technology can help improve processes and eliminate energy use. In fact, one clean manufacturing method is “dark manufacturing.” This is where the factory is run entirely by machines, in the dead of night, with no lights on, and no heating or air conditioning running.
It might sound like a sci-fi movie, but it’s real!
Ready to Go Green?
If green manufacturing is something that excites you, you’re not alone. There are plenty of opportunities to be a part of the movement.