Due to the ever-changing world around us, themanufacturing industry has been forced to change the way it functions. All ofour day-to-day activities have had impacts on the environment we live in and itis clear, by looking at the world today, that we have had an adverse effect.Among the problems that we create, the manufacturing and use of products can belisted as one. How do we lessen the problems of now and also make sure thefuture generations do not suffer the consequences? Sustainable manufacturing.
Sustainable manufacturing is the “creation of manufactured products througheconomically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts whileconserving energy and natural resources” (Lu et al., 2007). Many businesses andcompanies have already made changes towards a more environmentally-friendlyapproach ensuring not only a more sustainable environment but also a moreeconomically sustainable future.
Lean production is a way in which they canimprove both efficiency and quality in manufacturing. It means doing more workwith less resources meaning there is less overall waste. Another technique usedin manufacturing is “Six Sigma”. It involves teams which have been given aspecific target area and their aim is to improve operational performance. Italso helps to identify and remove the causes of problems and minimisesvariability in processes. If we look closer at the materials’ life cycle we canfind the source of the problems.
We produce materials from the earth’sresources such as ore and feedstock, mostly non-renewable, and produce theminto things we use on a daily basis. At the end of their use, they are disposedof or destroyed. From one point in the cycle to the next, environmental hazardssuch as carbon dioxide and emissions of, for example, heat are produced. Thisis where the problem lies because the environmental hazards outweigh theability of the environment to cope with them thus making the wholemanufacturing process unsustainable. Moreover, there exists the problem of theever-growing population.
It is said that the worst thing a person could do tothe environment is to have children because this means when they grow up, theywill contribute to the harming of the environment by using cars and causingpollution for example. The solution of sustainability is yet to be found. However,there are ways in which to sustainably, to an extent, manufacture such as recoveringand reusing waste. Some companies are tackling the problem of e-waste, whichincludes old televisions, monitors and computer boards and chips. All of thesecontain damaging chemicals and toxins which leads to the problem of beingunsustainable. However, not only can these become sustainable through recyclingand then put back into the manufacturing process, they can also be profitableto the company.
As well as this, another way to help sustainable manufacturingis to support and promote it so that more businesses and companies are aware ofit and therefore a more collective and a more meaningful effort towardssustainable manufacturing.