Small manufacturers do not have the staff or resources that larger manufacturers do when it comes to bowing to pressure to make products and processes greener. We are always on the lookout for tips and suggestions to help small manufacturers and their facility management professionals make their operations more environmentally friendly. Here are tips, some gleaned from the Santa Clara County, CA, Green Business Program, for greening products, waste, and energy in small manufacturing facilities.
- Adopt a life-cycle approach to the products you manufacture—consider the source of raw materials through end-of-life management.
- Be aware of your products’ “hotspot” of concern. For instance, if you manufacture cleaning or personal care products, toxicity of the products is of the highest importance due to their high potential for direct human contact and environmental exposure. On the other hand, water usage may be of primary concern if you manufacture plumbing fittings.
- Think about “burden shifting” in your choices. For example, selecting biobased products reduces fossil fuel input and emissions of greenhouse gases, but the growing and harvesting of biofeed stocks can pollute water sources and degrade soil quality.
- Sell products made with recycled content.
- For retail use or shipping, purchase boxes or bags with recycled content.
- Print messages on products encouraging consumers to recycle the packaging and products.
- Avoid “greenwashing,” i.e., making environmental claims about your business or products that are untrue or misleading. There are “green guides” available to help you keep your claims and marketing on the up-and-up.
- Designate a recycling coordinator to take responsibility for monitoring waste disposal and maintaining recycling and composting programs.
- Recycle metal drums.
- Recycle wood, including pallets.
- Replace high intensity discharge fixtures in warehouses with fluorescent high bay lighting.
- Set refrigerator temperatures to meet minimum health requirements (typically between 38°F and 41°F for refrigerators and between 10°F and 20°F for freezers).
- Use Energy Star® equipment where available, and enable energy-saving features.
- Use weather stripping to seal gaps around doors and windows.
- Use power management software programs to automatically activate power management settings in equipment such as computers and printers.