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Why is it More Challenging for Small Manufacturers to Go Green?

By November 16, 2011Blog, Member News

In many areas of business, smaller companies are sometimes at a disadvantage compared to larger companies, particularly in areas where large initial expenditures in research, development, implementation or talent are required. Many small businesses are able to make up for higher costs by offering exceptional customer service and drawing new clients that way. However, when it comes to manufacturing companies and the modern concept of going green, it can be a challenge for a small organization to find the funds to institute green initiatives. Why is this so and what can be done to mitigate this problem?

The Pressure to Go Green Today the pressure is on to go green in every area of business, including manufacturing. From government mandates and regulations, to environmental responsibility and consumer pressure, manufacturing facilities of every size are being called upon to show that they can be green inside and out. This means they need to reduce, reuse and recycle within their own facility, while also developing products that have a longer lifecycle, less disposable packaging, less transportation costs, higher recyclability, and less environmental and human toxicity.

Small Manufacturers go Green According to some sources, as few as 40 percent of small manufacturing companies have any type of strategy for moving to green sustainable practices in the near future. Conversely, as much as 60 percent of large manufacturing facilities are already strategizing or working towards green measures. Why do 20% more large facilities plan to implement sustainable business practices, when we know that going green is almost always the smart choice, economically, socially and politically?

When it comes to small businesses and even individual consumers, going green can easily be started with small, inexpensive initiatives. Simply recycling water bottles or composting scraps can make a huge difference, to say nothing of some equipment changes such as moving to more efficient air conditioning units. But in manufacturing, such small changes, while certainly steps in the right direction, are only a drop in the bucket. For manufacturers to go green requires a significant change in corporate values as well as design and protocols. These necessary changes towards sustainability can be expensive, costing in product and packaging redesign, the hiring of talented employees, and possibley retrofitting of equipment or purchasing of new equipment.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles If you have spent any time reading about sustainable business you know that it is not just about hugging trees; going green can often equate to a cost savings as well as an increased customer base. However, these things take time, planning and often a large initial investment. In manufacturing, redesigning products to reduce waste, reduce packaging, use and produce no toxins, and be created and shipped in the most eco-friendly way requires a significant investment of financial resources.

While some small manufacturers may have difficulty making the necessary initial investments, every small company should at least begin the process of planning for the inevitable future of sustainable business. Resources such as the GBB can help small facilities develop their future plans, while initiating small, low cost steps now that, while perhaps not substantial, are at least a small step in the right direction and the start of a commitment to green. With adequate planning and allocation of resources, large green initiatives can be planned out and financed in a way that minimizes financial need during difficult times, but also includes a plan which shows the potential return on investment in green initiatives over time.

 Start Today Small manufacturing facilities need to recognize that in a competitive environment, and one which is becoming more and more concerned with eco-friendliness, developing a plan for green business and at least making small progress in that direction is paramount. As the government imposes more and more regulations, and consumers demand more and more environmental accountability, having a firm plan towards sustainability and advertising that plan on your company website is an important part of planning for future growth.

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