Environmentally Conscious Design and Manufacturing
There is more than just reduce, reuse, recycle...
With increasing problems of landfill usage, rising costs of energy, the greenhouse effect, and the decay of the ozone layer are major environmental concerns that will bring about a new wave of environmental revolution in the US.
While prior movements have been concerned with cleaning up hazardous waste from contaminated sites and natural resources, this new wave is concerned with waste reduction and elimination at the source. This can be achieved by promoting recycling, improving waste management systems, and more efficient use of resources.
Germany serves as a great example of a closed-loop production where as of 1994, producers had to take back and salvage their products that have reached end of life. Here producers take the opportunity to recycle their own products.
Now let's think about what this looks like in production.
Reduction of waste and pollution should meet all the following requirements:
Design products for reusability and recycling.
Design production processes to eliminate unusable waste, by-products, and emissions to make efficient use of raw materials. Consider the waste, not as an unavoidable result of the process, but as a factor that adversely affects the efficiency.
Design products to be serviced and maintained easily so as to ensure a longer service life. This eliminates more causes of obsolescence of a product.
Establish a materials reclamation process based on waste management, recycling and recovery of materials, and minimal residues.
Companies that have successfully implemented these principles have reported direct and indirect benefits that have surpassed the increased expenditure. On average, 50% of activities of waste reduction pay back within 6 months. That's means that within a single calendar year, waste reduction changes pay for themselves and then some.
Meeting the demands of the public and consumers not only shows an increase in environmental consciousness, but also yields the following benefits:
Eliminating disposal costs
Conserving natural resources and energy
Providing other sources of revenue due to selling recycled/repurposed materials
Improving yield and quality
Reducing pollution and toxins in the environment
Providing safer workplaces
Instead of looking at waste as an unavoidable part of production, consider it as a measure of the efficiency of your process.