A 7-point checklist to reduce emissions in your manufacturing plant
by Bryan Christiansen, Founder and CEO of Limble CMMS
By implementing these strategies, not only will manufacturing plants reduce their carbon emissions, they will gain recognition for their sustainability efforts.
In the face of ever-growing environmental concerns, manufacturing plants have to be proactive and adopt environmentally-friendly practices. Whether you’re an established manufacturing business or you’re just starting out, here are 7 strategies to help reduce your emissions.
#1: Use renewable energy sources
Conducting a feasibility study is crucial to determining the potential for renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, biogas, and geothermal power. To assess the technical viability, as well as the costs and benefits of different options, it is necessary to acquire required permits and approvals from regulatory agencies.
Furthermore, tracking and monitoring energy generation and consumption data, and making adjustments as needed, are essential to achieving energy reduction goals.
In line with these efforts, General Motors is pursuing a carbon-neutral goal and expects to use 100% renewable energy by 2025 at its plants.
Similarly, Procter & Gamble, a multinational company specializing in consumer goods, has stated that it will convert completely to green electricity by 2040 to achieve net-zero emissions at its factories.
#2: Optimize production processes
First, it is important to identify the production processes that are the most wasteful. To do so, conduct a thorough process analysis — search for bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and resource wastages.
After gathering and analyzing data, opportunities for improvement can be located. Then, implement an action plan to address these issues by making changes in the production processes and/or procedures.
It is crucial to establish a viable equipment maintenance program and consider implementing methodologies such as Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, and Total Quality Management to optimize production processes.
As an example, the Japanese automaker Toyota has been a pioneer in applying Lean Manufacturing practices with great success in its car production.
#3: Establish a waste management program
Conduct a waste audit to determine the types and quantities of waste being generated. To begin, identify which materials can be recycled, composted, or sent to landfills. Next, research and select the appropriate recycling and waste management options for the waste generated.
If feasible, implement a composting program to reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfills.
Unilever, a household products manufacturer, has an extensive waste management and recycling program and is committed to achieving zero waste to landfill in its factories.
Furthermore, KNAUF Industries, a manufacturer of packaging and insulation materials, uses combustible packaging waste to generate energy through direct incineration and utilizes it in-house.
#4: Use green technology
Evaluating various green manufacturing techniques is essential in finding sustainable solutions. By examining techniques based on green chemistry, biotechnology, and sustainable technology, it is possible to determine which can be applied to the products and processes at hand.
It is important to take into consideration factors such as cost, feasibility, and scalability when making this decision.
As an example, Dyecoo, a Dutch company specializing in sustainable textile dyeing, has created the world’s first water-free and process chemical-free solution.
#5: Reduce the impact of key suppliers on emissions
Locating key partners in the supply chain is crucial in reducing emissions throughout the manufacturing process. By collaborating with them, it’s possible to establish clear targets for reducing both direct and indirect emissions. To track and measure supplier performance, supplier scorecards can be used.
Moreover, encouraging suppliers to implement sustainable practices such as energy-efficient technologies can have a positive impact. In line with this effort, technology company Honeywell has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2035, including targeted reductions in carbon emissions throughout their supply chain.
#6: Set targets for the reduction of emissions
To reduce emissions, conduct regular emissions audits and establish targets. Firstly, collect data on emissions with:
- appropriate measurement and monitoring equipment and techniques
- data from energy bills, fuel consumption records, and other useful records.
Secondly, analyze the data to identify patterns in emissions and identify areas for reduction. Finally, participate in voluntary reporting programs, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), to track performance and gain recognition for the efforts.
For example, CEMEX, one of the world’s top traders of cement and concrete producers, is aggressively working to reduce its CO2 emissions and has set a goal to deliver only net-zero carbon concrete by 2050 to sustainable urban buildings and climate-resilient infrastructure.
#7: Invest in carbon offset projects
Consider investing in carbon offset projects to neutralize emissions that cannot be reduced through in-house actions. Also, research and evaluate different carbon offset projects such as renewable energy projects and reforestation projects that are the most suitable for your organization and invest in them.
Try to use recognized standards, such as the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), to ensure that the offset projects are independently verified and meet certain environmental and social criteria.
General Motors takes the lead by investing in carbon offset projects to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, as they aim to achieve a Carbon Neutral status by 2040. Also, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. provides customers with the option to add a small donation to their monthly utility bill to support projects that reduce or absorb carbon emissions in California.
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