Over the past decade, there have been many significant discussions about how corporations affect their communities and the role they play in working to improve them.
Research suggests that companies that invest in sustainable practices have a competitive advantage. Small businesses can expand their markets, while larger companies can use these practices to carefully craft a brand image.
Sustainability is more than just a buzzword. It’s a plan, and if you don’t have one, it can affect your image, your company’s bottom line and even its future.
But, what exactly is corporate sustainability? And, if you’re a manufacturer, how can a sustainability plan impact your operations so that it benefits both the environment and your company?
Below we’ll explore what it means to be sustainable in today’s business climate, and how manufacturers can take advantage of one of today’s most sustainable services.
The Three Pillars
Sustainability is about meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Often, sustainability is thought of as having three pillars:
The environmental pillar is one of the most impactful because it often draws the most attention. In many manufacturing industries, waste has long been a major environmental issue, especially when companies must dispose of hazardous waste.
Companies are required to follow environmental regulations at the local, state and federal levels to dispose of hazardous waste safely. But many are expanding their corporate sustainability plans, looking for ways to go beyond the minimum required to further reduce their carbon footprints and even reduce spending.
Every company’s sustainability plan will look different and will focus on different environmental impacts. While Walmart has pledged to reduce waste and better manage energy consumption, other companies like Nestle have targeted preserving natural resources like clean water, as well as using recycled materials whenever possible.
While the environmental pillar of corporate sustainability often gets the most attention, there are two other pillars as well that companies focus on when putting together their sustainability plans.
While businesses must be profitable, the economic pillar focuses on how a business’s profits should not trump the other two pillars. Areas of focus under this pillar may include compliance, risk management and overall fiscal responsibility.
This pillar doesn’t shun growth. It instead encourages economic growth that helps maintain a healthy balance in the world’s ecosystem. In fact, if economic growth is managed responsibly and in tandem with the other two pillars, profitability often follows.
The last pillar, social, involves being a good neighbor and member of the community. It also addresses working conditions, as well as the impact the company has on both a local and global level.
Companies may choose to focus their attention on improving the lives of their employees by offering benefits such as flexible scheduling or maternity and paternity leave. Or, it may look closer into ways to give back, such as through scholarships, grants or fundraising.
On a larger scale, a business that focuses on corporate social responsibility should look at the production of its products - from start to finish. This means addressing issues such as fair pay, safe working conditions and child labor, especially in global manufacturing facilities.
Sustainability In Manufacturing
If you’re a manufacturing facility that produces waste, prioritizing sustainable development and growth should be a priority.
And, while there are many forms of sustainability, as shown above, sustainable recycling services are becoming a popular method to reduce and reuse resources because it provides a tangible return on investment.
Closed Loop Recycling focuses on resource sustainability because the recycling of a material can be done indefinitely without degradation of properties. Processes, like the one at Temarry Recycling, combines solvent distillation, waste-to-energy and water treatment in a Closed Loop Recycling process in order to offer “True Recycling” for industrial solvents, organic solids and water-based hazardous waste.
The benefits of Closed Loop Recycling are two-fold. By utilizing hazardous waste solids to convert energy to power solvent recovery stills, a company’s carbon footprint is sharply reduced. Also, by returning recycled technical grade solvents back to industry, fewer raw materials are consumed to manufacture new products.
This type of recycling can be an especially attractive option if you’re a company located in the western United States. While most hazardous waste disposal companies choose to offer fuel blending to their generator clients, these substances must be shipped using tanker trucks across the country to the Midwest to be processed.
By reducing transport distance, you’re not only reducing your carbon footprint, but saving on transportation costs as well.
Sustainability is a continually evolving process that companies - small and large - must refine as technological advancements offer new possibilities for improving efficiency and preserving resources.
As a company that is committed to sustainability, we work each day to protect our natural resources and find alternative ways to preserve the future of our community. If you’re a manufacturing company that produces waste, how you manage that waste can have a substantial impact on your company and the community that surrounds it.
Putting a sustainability plan in place is a good place to start. But, it’s also important to evolve your plan as your industry changes.
Our article, How Continued Process Evaluation Can Lead To Sustainable Solutions, further explores how to become a sustainable business and the importance of looking deeper as opportunities become available.