Taking A Step Towards A Sustainable And Healthier Society/ Ecosystem
I am a fiscally conscious & goal driven management executive. In a fast-track career of 29 years, I have measurable impact on business operations, market penetration & key account development in Automotive & CV Industry.
According to Statista, the world oil consumption peaked in 2019 at 100 million barrels per day. While the demand saw a sharp drop in the year 2020, this change may not be sustainable. Moreover, according to the IEA, the global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 were around 33.2 gigatons (Gt). As the world gets back to normalcy, resource consumption will begin increasing again, of course, unless sustainable practices are brought into the picture.
One of the industries that is known for energy consumption and emission production is 'Manufacturing'. The traditional manufacturing practices consume a tremendous amount of resources while producing a lot of waste, which can be harmful to the environment in the long run. The waste generated during the traditional manufacturing processes could play a role in the degradation of the environment.
However, the manufacturing sector plays an important role into the mass production of essentials and goods, creating employment, and contributing significantly in every country's GDP. Hence, the only way forward would be that industries adopt 'Sustainable Manufacturing' processes.
The traditional manufacturing journey is linear, from the cradle to the grave, in which the products are made, used, and then thrown away
Sustainable manufacturing can be defined as a manufacturing method that uses renewable or non-fossil fuel energy, minimizes waste, promotes safe production, and limits the environmental impact. Integrating product and process design issues with factors of manufacturing, planning, and control in such a manner as to identify, quantify, assess, and manage the flow of environmental waste to reduce the environmental impact ultimately.
Sustainable practices can be employed within manufacturing facilities, across the supply chain, and through the customer base. Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) have opened multiple possibilities for process innovations. This supports developing environmentally friendly materials, decarbonize energy, develop digital methods for doing more with less, and extend the cycle of goods within a 'zero waste to landfill' framework.
The traditional manufacturing journey is linear, from the cradle to the grave, in which the products are made, used, and then thrown away. On the other hand, the sustainable manufacturing journey is cradle to cradle, that is, circular. It has gone beyond the typical 3R approach- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle to a 5R approach- Repair, Reuse, Refurbish, Re-manufacture, and Recycle.
Along with the Government focus on emission regulations and environment friendly policies, various initiatives within the industry will open new possibilities for job opportunities and revenue. According to an HDFC report, a well-defined scrappage policy in India can help create an industry of its own with a business opportunity of Rs 43,000 Crore a year. With the help of the scrappage policy, approximately 28 million vehicles will go off-road by 2025, mainly comprising of two-wheelers. It would reduce carbon dioxide emission by 17 percent and cut particulate matter in the air by 24 percent. Further, if half the Bharat Stage-II and III vehicles go off the roads, it would save 8 million tons of oil a year.
Creating Asustainable Ecosystem Beyond Manufacturing Processes
Today, merely implementing sustainable practices around manufacturing processes may not be enough. The industry needs to develop long-term sustainability goals that have a greater impact on the whole ecosystem. For instance, the automotive industry is working its way towards electric vehicles and newer fuel technologies. This aims to achieve a 100 percent carbon neutral and 100 percent emission free mobility driving towards 100 percent ownership of responsible value chain.
Neutralizing Carbon Footprint
It is next to impossible to develop a manufacturing process that produces zero carbon emissions. However, it is possible to balance the carbon footprint. Carbon neutrality means balancing between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the environment in carbon sinks. Some leading automotive companies have already announced their plans to become 100 percent carbon neutral. In the coming times, this step will witness wider acceptability.
To maintain a sustainable ecosystem, companies must give back to society and the environment. While the manufacturing industry is responsible for creating millions of jobs, it can cause some harmful effects on the environment and the neighborhood. For instance, polluting the groundwater. In such a case, the manufacturing company must take the initiative to provide clean drinking water to the impacted people.
Maintaining Workforce Diversity
A sustainable society is one that has equal representation from all ethnicities and demographics. Not just manufacturing companies, but companies across the spectrum must develop long-term and short-term goals to promote diversity across various levels of the corporate hierarchy. With the increasing challenges related to environmental pollution and climate change, it is more important than ever to work towards an inclusive society and help creating a resilient world.
In summary, sustainable manufacturing is an essential need in the current business world. It unlocks revolutionary developments in productivity and efficiency improvement without adversely impacting the planet and environment on a large scale. The notion that economic growth and environmental degradation are two faces of the coin must be changed by adopting sustainable manufacturing processes. Sustainable manufacturing has the power to decouple these two, thus leading the planet towards a low-carbon future. Furthermore, the industry needs to look beyond just sustainable manufacturing. In the past few years, many trends that promote sustainability have emerged, like carbon neutrality, developing sustainable products, maintaining workforce diversity, etc. These steps are critical in creating a sustainable ecosystem, a sustainable society.