/ 12.07.2021

Overview: Holistic Corporate Sustainability Assessments for Manufacturing

Overview: Holistic Corporate Sustainability Assessments for Manufacturing - Image

Manufacturing companies and facilities are under increasing pressure to improve sustainability and recycling efforts. With sustainable manufacturing becoming that much more prevalent throughout the U.S., facilities need to take immediate measures to implement net-zero and closed-loop production methodologies. 

The pathway to sustainability is long, but with more tools to analyze your business operations, that path is more cost-effective than ever. Your first step? Invest in a thorough, data-driven sustainability assessment of your entire business operation to help you reach, and exceed, your sustainability goals.

Primary Goals of a Sustainability Assessment

The EPA has consistently provided definitions for the content and structure of a sustainability assessment. They include:

  • A comprehensive and system-based analysis of how to integrate alternative options and the corresponding social, environmental, and economic impacts. 
  • The long-term consequences for future generations of all alternative solutions.
  • Involvement of community and corporate stakeholders throughout the entire process.

Throughout your sustainability audit, your leadership needs to engage with enough stakeholders and analyze enough corresponding business data to calculate and track the sustainability performance of the life of your materials after they leave the facility. Said another way: Leverage your assessments and identify the largest areas for potential improvement, the long-term impact of those materials, and the cost benefits of reducing those impacts. 

Your assessment could include a range of other factors to develop sustainable programs and policies and improve lifecycle projections for waste. Depending on your region, other considerations to take into account may need a targeted focus on air quality and emissions, or more scrutiny of wastewater management. While the above definitions are broad, your assessment typically measures:

  • Risk assessment
  • Life cycle analysis 
  • Benefit-cost analysis
  • Impact on surrounding ecosystems 
  • Integrated assessment models
  • Environmental justice tools

The nature of your industry, and the materials that you use, will obviously impact the approach to screening your business and the tools used to weigh the nature of your overall footprint. 

Avoid Future Fines and EPA Involvement

Investing in sustainability practices that reduce costs, save resources, and protect the health and safety of the community is critical for the bottom line. The future is never entirely written, but new EPA rules (due to public and international regulatory pressures) are unquestionably going to be more strict when it comes to waste management and carbon emissions. Further statutory mandates will be designed to aggressively protect both human health and the health of the environment. 

The proactive measures you and your facility commit to today will give you a leg up on the competition and other industry stakeholders that decide to wait for pending oversight. Today’s companies that embrace data-driven intelligence to reduce the reliance on virgin materials and invest in closed-loop business practices don’t just avoid future regulatory hurdles. They become leaders in a more sustainable future, providing their clients and end-users with the very type of products and materials they demand.

Where to Start with Your Sustainability Assessment

A holistic sustainability assessment could also be defined as an inventory of your full business operation, or a forensic investigation that leads to discovery and insights as to what resources will be the most impactful.

Before you build and execute your organization’s sustainability strategy, begin by framing and identifying the challenges you need to address, such as:

  • The set of sustainability goals to focus on
  • Discovering the right outlets for different byproducts
  • Building a network of trusted partners to provide those services
  • Measure and record your impact with data and metrics

The data collection process can be time-consuming and exhaustive. So, if it’s also going to be effective, it has to be monitored as well. That means you need to work with the right partner to measure the overall impact of your program, as well as your program partners, over time.

Good Stewardship Starts with Good Data

A thorough sustainability assessment goes much further than posting a bunch of greenwashing images on a company’s social feeds or website. With the price of metals increasing, and the supply chain demand of fossil fuels proving to be brittle, your plant leadership needs immediate resources to do more than reduce your carbon footprint. You also need more sustainable, consistent access to high-quality materials at predictable, consistent prices. 

With the right inputs, a partner like Shapiro can help you target budget dollars on investments that will return more than positive sentiment from the community. With our data insights, for example, our team was able to capture real cost savings, improve health and safety, and vastly improve sustainability metrics for a major packaging supplier

Shapiro offers a strategic, tailored, data-driven model, providing a fully managed, transparent solution that leads to true sustainability and cost savings. We know that each of our clients need tailored services to meet and exceed outcomes for its long-term financial health, the health of its workers, and the health of our planet. We can work with you to create sustainability programs in any of the following areas:

  • Metal recycling
  • Non-metal recycling
  • Parts reclamation
  • Part breakdown and destruction
  • Waste management
  • Fluid recovery
  • Transportation

Good Stewardship of the Earth Can Start Today

Connect with a sustainability expert at Shapiro today to discuss your vision for your organization’s greener future.