Manufacturing is one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world.
In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, manufacturing or industry accounted for a whopping 23% of emissions in the United States, just behind transportation (29%) and electricity (25%).

 

When taking into account indirect emissions that manufacturing companies are responsible for including transportation and electricity use, you can begin to fully see the industry’s true carbon footprint size.

What is a carbon footprint?

 

A carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon emitted because ofcarbon footprint in manufacturing consumption of fossil fuels. Different entities can have a carbon footprint, from an individual to a small business to a major manufacturing company. Even an entire industry can have a carbon footprint.

A carbon footprint calculator is often used as a tool to determine the impact a company's operations have on the environment. It estimates the amount of greenhouse gases that are generated or produced, both directly (such as burning fossil fuels) and indirectly (transportation used to move products).

If you’re like many manufacturing companies that are looking to enhance their sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint, here are 4 places to start:

  1. Modify your transportation
  2. Update power sources
  3. Implement energy savings tips
  4. Evaluate your waste disposal

 

Modify Your Transportation

 

As a manufacturing company, you likely have a fleet that transports goods.carbon footprint in manufacturing Some of your employees may also drive company-issued vehicles, such as your sales staff or management.

If your company fleet is due for any additions or upgrades, consider incorporating more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Research shows that hybrid and electric cars are trending lower in cost, with some analysts saying they will soon become less expensive to buy and maintain than gas-powered vehicles.

If adding electric or hybrid isn’t an option, there are several vehicles that have added eco-friendly features, such as fuel-efficient engines, improved aerodynamics and lower carbon dioxide emissions.

  • Even with your current fleet, you can improve your carbon footprint by:
  • Keeping current vehicles maintained through regular tune-ups
  • Choosing local business travel rather than long-distance travel in the air
  • Encouraging employees to carpool or allowing telecommuting when possible. With the recent Covid pandemic, companies are seriously looking at work from home options. This will have a significant, even though it is indirectly correlated, impact on a company’s carbon footprint.


Update Power Sources


Manufacturing companies often have production facilities or factories as part of their operations. Direct emissions, or those that are controlled by a company itself, may come from chemical reactions that occur when producing chemicals, iron, steel and cement. They also occur when burning fuel for power or heat.

By reconfiguring plants so that machinery is run on clean burning natural gas, companies can reduce their consumption of fuel needed for power or heat.

Companies can also take a closer look at updating their warehouse equipment that runs on diesel fuel, instead choosing environmentally-friendly alternatives like electric forklifts that use lithium ion batteries instead of fuel.

 

We Understand What’s Ahead For You

 

As companies seek to implement more sustainable solutions to theircarbon footprint in manufacturing infrastructure, we are sensitive to the fact that implementing many of these changes may require a large capital expense. The cost benefit analysis may show that implementing many of these changes is just not feasible at the present time. Or they may need to be implemented over several years.

However, there is an immediate change most manufacturers can make and realize substantial cost savings while fulfilling their sustainable mandates. That change is in their disposal transportation and recycling costs. More on this later.

 

Implement Energy Savings Tips

 

While it’s easy to focus on larger machinery in manufacturing, mostcarbon footprint in manufacturing manufacturing companies have several pieces of equipment and appliances that use significant amounts of electricity.

From computers to lighting, break room appliances and data center storage areas, every business has equipment that can be updated to become more energy-efficient.

In fact, the EPA estimates that if every office used equipment that was Energy Star certified, it would save more than 1.5 billion pounds of emissions.

While you may recognize the Energy Star logo from appliance shopping at your local home improvement store, this energy savings rating isn’t reserved for appliances only. Various types of IT equipment can be Energy Star qualified, from audio/visual to displays, imaging equipment, small networking equipment, power supplies, televisions and computers.

Even small everyday changes in behavior can improve your carbon footprint, from using smart power strips that are controlled by programmable timers to encouraging employees to put their computers and office equipment to sleep when not in use.

 

Evaluate Your Waste Disposal Now To Save Money & Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

 

As we mentioned earlier, examining your current waste disposal can dramatically improve your carbon footprint and reduce costs. That’s because one of the most significant contributors to a company’s carbon footprint is the transportation used to remove the waste from your facilities and take it to the appropriate disposal facility.

According to the EPA, more than 90% of fuel used for transportation is petroleum-based, including gasoline and diesel.

The longer transport distance your waste travels, the higher the carbon footprint your company will have.

One common example of this is manufacturers who generate solvent waste. Many West Coast manufacturers transport their solvent-based liquids, solids and sludge across the country to cement kilns in the Midwest where it is fuel blended.

For example, take a look at the below table, which compares the carbon footprint for a company transporting waste from Los Angeles to one of the nearest cement kilns in Kansas or Arkansas, versus a company transporting its waste to Temarry Recycling’s TSDF just across the border in Tecate, Mexico.



The longer transport distance has a much greater impact on the company’s carbon footprint. Not to mention the additional fuel costs and costs associated with increased maintenance on the vehicle. Companies on the west coast can typically see a 91% reduction in their carbon footprint, by changing the destination for the disposal of their specific waste streams.

The additional benefit, and perhaps more importantly for manufacturers, are the cost savings in the disposal fees associated with recycling their waste streams.

Temarry Recycling operates a state-of-the-art facility that incorporates closed loop recycling and recovery.

This system incorporates waste to energy, solvent distillation and water treatment to create a full circle approach to recycling.

This true recycling system is restorative and regenerative, as well as keeps materials at their highest utility and value always … helping to reduce the reliance on earth’s natural resources and in the long-run, serving as another way to improve your company’s carbon footprint.

To learn more about closed loop recycling is one step further in moving towards the circular economy, review our article, The Top 5 Benefits Of Closed Loop Recycling And Recovery.

Carbon Footprint Calculator

Larry Burton

Larry Burton

Larry Burton has over 25 years of experience in the hazardous waste and chemical industries. He has worked for several major corporations, including Honeywell, and can speak on a variety of industry-related topics. He has specialized knowledge in Circular Economy, Solvent Distillation, Closed Loop Recycling Technology, Waste to Energy, and the H061 Paradigm. Larry has extensive knowledge of the latest technologies that allow businesses to explore real-world sustainable solutions. These solutions will help reduce their carbon footprint and improve their profitability. Larry is currently the CEO of Temarry Recycling.

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