Embracing “Green” Manufacturing Processes Can Win Over Regulators, Cut Costs

From basic measures like composting cafeteria waste to large-scale technology programs such as recovering metal from used computers, manufacturers around the world are incorporating environmental sustainability in day-to-day operations.

In addition to winning over regulators and other key constituents, some of these “green” manufacturers are even cutting costs through their environmental initiatives, according to Mechanical Engineering magazine, the publication of ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers).

Green manufacturers reconfigure processes, use environmentally benign substances in products, re-engineer products for easy disassembly and incorporate other innovations in the quest to meet environmental goals.

For example, automaker Subaru returns used metal packaging to parts suppliers so that the material can be used for other shipments. IBM takes in 40,000 pieces of pre-owned electronic equipment each week to recover silicon wafers and various metals, selling the materials on the open market as part of a $2 billion recycling business.

In early 2008, ASME convened the Global Summit on the Future of Mechanical Engineering, in which experts in the field indicated that engineers must take the lead in developing solutions that foster a cleaner, healthier, safer and sustainable world. One avenue to meeting that challenge is to focus on process, the organization said.

In addition to helping the planet, sustainable practices and reducing waste also can have a positive impact on another important area for manufacturers – the bottom line.
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