How to make your manufacturing processes more eco-friendly

Barry Crackett is a product designer at Brushtec. Here, he outlines how the company has adopted greener manufacturing processes and explains how your business could do the same. 

The United Nations Environment Programme has said that drastic changes need to be made over the next 12 years in order to limit the effects of climate change. This means all businesses need to be looking for ways in which they can make their processes greener.

Making more sustainable choices isn’t just good for the environment, either: it can also benefit your bottom line. According to a recent report from Nielsen, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their purchasing power, and how the products they buy can affect our environment. As a result,shoppers are being more mindful about the kinds of companies they’ll buy from, and many are even willing to pay a premium for items that are sustainably sourced and produced in an eco-friendly way.

All businesses should be assessing their processes and looking for ways to improve their green credentials. At Brushtec, we’ve already made some big changes, and will continue to do so. Here, I’m going to highlight how you could be making more responsible choices too.

Use renewable energy

It’s never been easier for businesses to make the switch to renewable energy, and when you have so many options to choose from, there’s really no excuse for turning a blind eye. If your business is quite small, or you’re operating on a tight budget, switching to a renewable energy supplier is likely to be the best option, as it’s affordable and easy to do. There are companies out there, such as Green Energy UK, that specialise in offering competitive prices for gas and green electricity. And, you should be able to switch without any disruption.

If you’re looking to truly invest in making your company greener, consider generating your own energy using new technology like solar panels. While there will be an initial outlay to buy and install them, they should pay for themselves over time. Plus, having your own energy source and supply is a great way to make your business more self-sufficient.

Reduce your energy consumption

Whether you decide to make the switch to renewable energy or not, it’s a good idea to look for areas where you could be using less gas and electricity. For example, do you leave machinery on longer than necessary, or could you switch your everyday essentials to more energy-efficient and eco-friendlier versions?

Even making a simple change like swapping your existing light-bulbs for more modern LED versions can help to reduce your energy consumption. Plus, the lifespan of LED bulbs tends to be much longer than that of more traditional styles, which means making the switch won’t just be a step towards saving the environment — it’ll help you to save time, effort, and money as well.

Review your designs

When was the last time you took a critical look at your designs? At Brushtec, we review our products every few months to see whether there are any changes we can make to reduce how much material we use, and how much waste we produce. I think most manufacturers could increase their eco-friendliness by following suit.

Of course, we don’t want to sacrifice the practicality and effectiveness of our products, but we do sometimes spot opportunities to reshape, resize, or completely redesign items in a way that saves on material. It might even be the case that certain steps can be skipped in your production line without compromising on the quality and finish of your products. Analysing this and making the necessary changes can also help you to reduce your energy consumption and make your business more eco-friendly.

Consider using more sustainable materials

By now, we all know that reducing our use of plastics should be a priority and, while there’s been a particular focus on single-use plastic, I think it’s important for all manufacturers to consider whether they could be using more sustainable materials in their work.

If you take a look at your products and decide that they wouldn’t work as well if they were made from anything other than plastic, there are still some more responsible choices you could be making. For example, why not use recycled plastics? Or, could you team up with another business to make use of their offcuts that would otherwise end up in the bin? The most important thing is that you become more mindful of the materials you’re using and, as technology is always advancing, I would recommend reviewing them every six months or so.

A wide range of environmental issues are becoming increasingly pressing, and it’s vital that businesses look at the ways in which we could be contributing to the likes of global warming and the plastic crisis. Of course, making the switches I’ve outlined here is a great place to start, but it’s important that you look for other ways your company could be greener, too. By taking responsibility for the impact your operations might be having, you can truly make a difference.