What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Manufacturing?

sustainable manufacturing

Many businesses focus on increasing their profit margins and creating innovative products that will impress their target audience. There’s definitely nothing wrong with doing this, really you have to do this if you intend to run a business. But they shouldn’t be your only priorities. In fact, there are other values that can help you establish a brand identity, attract customers, and act as a socially responsible business. Sustainability is one of those values.

Sustainable manufacturing involves materials, equipment, and methods that promote efficient use of resources (especially non-renewable ones) and the reduction of waste. It’s a departure from the traditional manufacturing process that prioritizes cost-effectiveness and profit margins while ignoring the environmental impact. The problem with this strategy, of course, is that there are very real costs of wrecking our ecosystems — what economists call external costs. A socially responsible business seeks to reduce both internal AND external costs.

At first glance, sustainable manufacturing can seem like marketing speak that sounds nice but doesn’t really have any substance. This was what the business landscape looked like decades ago, but things have changed in the recent years as more and more entrepreneurs realize the importance of creating a sustainable company. If you’re skeptical about this, consider the benefits of sustainable manufacturing:

Promote Innovation

When you commit to sustainability, you have no choice but to replace your current methods and materials with more environmentally friendly options. This can be challenging, especially if you’ve been in business for a long time and have perfected your manufacturing process down to a T.

However, constraints are often fuel for creativity. You can take this challenge and consider it as an opportunity to innovate. Perhaps you can come up with a technique that is not only sustainable but will also reduce your costs while increasing your production speed. Or maybe you can discover or even invent a material that doesn’t require non-renewable resources and results to more and higher-quality products.

Of course, these groundbreaking changes should not be limited to your business alone. If you and other companies in your industry practice open innovation, you can share ideas and discoveries which each other and ultimately make them standard practice. Who knows! You might end up contributing to industry-wide improvements in manufacturing speed, production costs, and profit margins that results to a bigger and longer-lasting impact on the environment.

Give Your Business An Edge

As an entrepreneur, you probably already know how important it is to have a unique selling point or USP. This is what allows you to stand out from the crowd, making it easier for your target audience to distinguish you from your competitors.

If you don’t yet have a USP (or even if you already have one), you can add sustainability to your repertoire. By establishing yourself as a sustainable manufacturer, you can paint yourself as an environmentally conscious business and stand out from other companies that are just there to make a profit. You’ll also find it easier to market your business and come up with unique and engaging marketing campaigns. Consumers want to support businesses that reflect their values.

Another advantage of adopting sustainable manufacturing methods is that you’ll be a step ahead in terms of environmental regulation compliance and certifications. This is particularly true if your rivals are not really concerned with sustainability and have not taken any steps to make themselves more eco-friendly. By internalizing best practices, you eliminate the possibility of having to conform your operations to meet newly drafted legislation in the future.

Attract Environmentally Aware Customers

You might not realize it, but many of your target audience might actually be looking for more sustainable products. Some of them do so because they want to reduce their own environmental impact, while others believe that eco-friendly products have better quality or are safer in some way. By using sustainable manufacturing techniques, you can grab the attention of this demographic and convince them to give your products a try, which can eventually lead to higher sales and revenues. With excellent marketing and great customer service, you can even turn these customers into brand ambassadors who won’t hesitate to recommend you to their family and friends.

Reduce Your Costs

Cost is one of the biggest reasons why manufacturers stay away from sustainable practices. They believe that changing their production methods increases their overheads without really giving them anything in return. But, if you take a closer look, you’ll see that this isn’t necessarily true. Yes, adopting more sustainable techniques does require you to spend more money upfront, but you’ll reap the rewards several years down the road.

For instance, let’s say that your business relies on non-renewable materials. If you don’t do anything to change your current rate of consumption, you might discover that these materials will become scarce after 20 to 25 years. Scarcity greatly increases the cost of materials due to the law of supply and demand so, in a couple of decades, you might find yourself paying substantially more than you’re paying now.

Of course, a single business that switches to more sustainable practices won’t have much of an impact on material availability. This is why it’s important for industries to practice sustainability as a whole. By doing this, businesses can collectively use fewer resources and make their supply of materials last for a few more years or even decades. This, in turn, can lead to lower costs for everyone.

Another cost-related benefit of sustainable manufacturing methods is that you’ll use fewer materials and therefore produce less waste. Proper waste disposal is usually expensive so, by reducing the amount of waste you produce, you can shave a substantial amount off of your monthly and yearly budget and enjoy huge savings in the long run. Depending on your process and the nature of your business, reducing your waste output can actually be a significant cost-saving device.

Increase Your Profit Margins

Reducing your overheads usually results in wide profit margins. But it doesn’t stop there; as mentioned above, sustainable businesses find it easier to attract customers who are concerned about the environment. This increase in demand allows you to raise your product prices, which you can justify by pointing out that your sustainable manufacturing process takes a bit more time and effort than ordinary production methods. You can also offer eco-friendly add-ons at premium rates, which would be welcomed with open arms by customers who want to reduce their environmental impact. Both of these can result in high revenues which, coupled with lower overheads, can help you enjoy bigger earnings.

Make A Positive Impact On The Environment

“Sustainability” is not just a feel-good term or a process that helps your business move ahead of the pack. By adopting sustainable marketing practices, you can help conserve the Earth’s natural and non-renewable resources and ultimately improve the state of the environment. It might take years or even decades before you can see a tangible difference, but you’ll get to sleep peacefully at night knowing that you’re doing something to help Mother Nature. And that’s gotta be worth something, right?

Adopting Sustainable Manufacturing

With all the benefits listed above, it’s easy to see that sustainability should definitely be a part of your manufacturing business. But how exactly can you incorporate it into your existing processes? What should you do to make your operations more environmentally friendly? You want to consider the whole production process from start to finish:

This can mean so many different things in different contexts. Are the materials renewable? Do they need to be shipped around the world? Are they biodegradable? Are they really biodegradable? How much energy is required to produce your products? Are they disposable by design, or durable? What is your packaging made of? Etc.

Not sure where to begin? There’s no need to fret since you can get the help of Cad Crowd freelancers! Our CAD design and engineering freelancers are experts in sustainable product design, and they use their skills, knowledge, and experience to help you create designs that require fewer resources while maintaining great quality and performance. Simply inform them of your requirements and specifications, and they’ll take care of everything from polishing the initial concept to creating the final design.

If you’re ready to get your project started, just contact us here at Cad Crowd and send us your project details. We will then connect you with a product design freelancer whose abilities and expertise are a perfect match for your project.

We also help clients connect with industry-leading contract manufacturing companies in the U.S. Whether you’re looking to 3D print some prototypes or to ramp up to full production, we’ll set you up with top-quality manufacturing firms that will help you bring your product to life.