Green is not just the color of money, it is the color of social-responsibility

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Motivation for Manufacturer's to Go Green

 Motivation for manufacturers to become more energy efficient took a huge step forward recently with announcements by major corporations like Wal-Mart and General Motors that they will require their suppliers to reduce their carbon footprints.

 According  to Jack Healy, director of operations at the Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership, the impact of these announcements, like Wal-Mart's February decision to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by 20 million metric tons by 2015, is likely to be seismic in the manufacturing world.

For the first time, businesses are regulating the environment, he said, and their action is likely to have a much more game-changing impact than anything state or federal regulations have achieved, especially for smaller companies.

"Now you have large companies like Wal-Mart, IBM, GE and GM, they're all going back down through their supply chain and they're making demands on (companies) to change," said Healy. "I think you're going to see a very significant change. They are much more capable of affecting change than regulators."

While many large manufacturers have already begun exploring the benefits of increased energy efficiency, especially if they have consumer products that can be branded as sustainable, smaller companies don't always have the necessary time, available capital or similar financial incentives, to do the same.

Now pressure from major corporations means many must begin taking steps in order to keep their businesses alive.

"Smaller companies have always resisted all this stuff, but now if they want to remain in the supply chain, they're going to have to conform," said Healy.

According to Healy, a good number of Massachusetts companies have the potential to be affected with about 69 percent of the state's 7,000 manufacturers falling in the 20-or-fewer employee category.

Part of a national network, MassMEP works with manufacturers to create more efficient manufacturing processes. More recently, it has teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency to see how Lean manufacturing techniques can be applied to produce more sustainable manufacturing operations.

While these new pressures are getting close attention from manufacturers, Healy said, many are confused about where to place their efforts. In a May 27 blog post on the subject, Healy cited a recent Aberdeen Group survey which shows sustainability has become one of the top five market pressures facing today's manufacturing operations.

But, he noted, the survey suggests manufacturers are still struggling with just where sustainability efforts should be focused — on building facilities, products, manufacturing operations or all of the above.     Click here for full story

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