Today’s society is rapidly changing towards adopting greener technologies and practices while consumers are shifting to more sustainable behavior. Thus, the demand to make more sustainable products is increasing so the industry needs to adapt ASAP!
A more sustainable product can mean a more sustainable production. And this matter concerns the entire spectrum of businesses, from the smallest to the multinational organization. But, how to start? Well, keep reading and find it out.
First, take a look at the way you see sustainability
Your first thought when thinking about changing to a more sustainable production might be “That’s going to be expensive!” However, it doesn’t have to be. Starting to be more sustainable will not leave you out of the game. Instead, it will take you to another level, adding a very noticeable difference in today’s market.
Think of these changes, not as a cost but as an asset. Being more sustainable will give your product an advantage over other alternatives by incurring savings on materials, energy, and so on. It will also give your product a boost in a society with more sustainability-conscious consumers.
Second, more sustainable production means... What does it mean?
Sustainable production can mean more energy-efficient production. So, to start becoming more sustainable you don’t necessarily need to go headfirst into solar panels or something similar. Instead, evaluate how energy efficient your operations are.
You need to take advantage of all the energy you can from your operations and your surroundings. Read about Integrated Energy Systems (IES) and see how you can implement it across your business.
After making sure you take advantage of almost all the energy you can, except for minor losses, you should think about the energy source. You can start gradually adapting to different sources that in the long term will save a lot of energy, and therefore, money. Think about using solar or eolic power; special coatings in buildings and pipes to use less energy in heating or cooling. By doing some research of your company energetic necessities and the alternative energy sources available, you will find the solution that fits your organization.
Third, sustainable production is not merely a technical aspect
“What did you just say?” Yes, sustainable operations and products also have a social aspect. Have you ever wondered how employees mobilize or their daily practices at the workplace when sustainability is concerned? Do you know how much energy your supplier uses to deliver you everything you ask for? If not, you should start thinking about it.
People involved in your operations and their decisions also affect the sustainability of a process or a product. Although it might not be usually taken into consideration, it is a big part of the footprint your organization leaves on the planet. So, when becoming more sustainable, think: “What is the impact employees and suppliers have and how can it be improved?”
Using bicycles, carpooling between colleagues, or public transportation can improve the footprint left by your employees. The challenge is finding a way to make the change attractive to them. Your supplier might be another story, but showing them the benefits of more sustainable ways of transportation will work. For example, the savings they can make in the long term might make them consider becoming more sustainable too.
Having a more sustainable product or process doesn’t mean a complete shift and heavy investments for your business all at once. Small changes over time will do the job.
The most important thing is that everyone in the organization is committed to working towards a more sustainable future. To make the change successful, everyone involved in the process of elaborating and delivering your product needs to be on board. This way, the transition can be done as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
Manuel Alejandro Ruiz Mejia
Master student of Biotechnology at Lund University. The author holds a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia. Manuel is one of the Marketing Directors and was a former Consultant at 180 Degrees Consulting Lund.