How Manufacturers Can Create a Circular Economy
Carbon neutrality is a goal shared by many companies across a diverse range of sectors. Amazon, Netflix, Meta/Facebook, and Coca-Cola have all announced target dates for when they will achieve it. With an increased focus on ESG metrics, sustainability and financial outcomes have never been more linked.
In manufacturing, creating a circular economy (also known as a closed-loop supply chain) is a common strategy for pursuing carbon neutrality. In this article, we’ll cover the four key areas (the “four r’s”) that manufacturing companies can focus on to help create a circular economy: reduce, refurbish/reuse, recycle, and recover.
Reducing means finding ways to produce products at a high level of quality while consuming fewer resources. This can include using less materials in production or in the packaging of end products. Conserving energy and fuel usages are two other ways to reduce. Enhancing the energy efficiency of equipment, using electric vehicles, and reducing water are three examples.
Refurbish and Reuse
If your business is making products such as electronics, then offering a refurbishment program could help prevent your products from winding up in landfills while providing an additional revenue stream. It’s been proven that there is considerable consumer demand for refurbished and upcycled products.
If this strategy doesn’t apply to your business, you can always consider ways to refurbish or upgrade the industrial equipment in your operation rather than buying new. Not only can this extend the life of your equipment, but you can also modernize it by adding automation or other capability-boosting components.
Maximizing the amount of scrap and waste you recycle can be challenging, but it’s one of the best ways to increase sustainability in your manufacturing operations. Finding recycling outlets for your scrap metal, plastic, cardboard, and wood will keep these materials out of landfills, and in the case of scrap metal, add money back to your bottom line.
In the past, this would have probably meant finding vendors to handle each of these materials, managing them, and paying them all separately. Now there’s an alternative to this complexity that allows you to reap the benefits of recycling without all the red tape. A solution like Shapiro Metals’ management services lets you stay focused on production while we handle all your waste materials (and provide the most advanced sustainability data available…but that’s a topic for another article).
Another option to consider is incorporating more recycled content into your manufacturing process. Post-industrial scrap metal and master alloys are excellent materials that can preserve or even enhance the consistency and quality of your finished products.
Recovery involves saving otherwise wasted materials and either converting them into something else or putting them back into use in your operations. For example, food and beverage companies can convert their used cooking oil into biofuels or fertilizer materials for use in agriculture.
Another exciting option for manufacturers is fluid recovery. Fluids used in CNC machining and other metalworking processes include oils, oil-water emulsions, and petroleum distillates to name a few. We’ve developed pumps that allow you to create a closed-loop system with these resources, which allows you to boost your ESG score, save money, and lower your carbon footprint all with one solution.
A Circular Economy Creates a Better Tomorrow
Preserving the future of our planet is going to take everyone in our sector working together to create a circular economy. Converting traditional practices to more sustainable isn’t always simple or easy, but a partnership with Shapiro Metals can help. If you need guidance on how your business can do your part in creating a better tomorrow, we want to help! Connect with a Shapiro Metals rep today to get started. We can help you start smart, because remember, small changes can add up to a big impact.