Updated: Mar 11
Green Factories: What Are They And How Do They Impact Our Environment?
It’s no secret that factories have caused immense damage to our environment, it has gone as far as irreversible changes. However, this issue has grown to be one that’s been thrown in the past. As people are growing more hyper-aware of the harm we inflict on what surrounds us we have found ways to diverge from this path and throw our old habits in the gutter as factories take in green supply chain sustainability methods.
Why bother considering supply chain sustainability?
As previously mentioned unsustainable factories play a massive role in global warming, contributing to odious activities such as air pollution, water contamination, and toxic waste. It was also said that “they are actually responsible for two-thirds of greenhouse emissions”(Lagunazad,2022). However our planet isn’t the only subject that falls victim to their heinous crimes, we the people also suffer from the toxic and dangerous materials that get released into our environment. Factories that decide to take the sustainable path enjoy benefits like improving a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) score; likely to attract more customers and investors. Given are some cons of unsustainable factories:
Figure 1- Lok Wu, T. (2022, January 17). Effects of Air Pollution on the Environment. Earth.Org. https://earth.org/effects-of-air-pollution-on-the-environment/
Factories, especially industrial factories, contribute the most to this effect. Toxic gas emissions when manufacturing materials are factors to health and environmental damage. This also affects life surrounding these factories, or as I would say, powerhouses of death. Animals of all types and species fall under this umbrella of doom due to these pollutants.
As expected the toxic gases and materials burned and pumped into the environment add to global warming. Toxic gases such as Carbon Dioxide and Methane absorb radiation from the sun and directly impacts Earth’s rising temperatures. The rise of our planet’s temperature ratios to the rise in natural disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, and so on due to rising sea levels.
Now we add to how we are affected by gas emissions as previously mentioned. We are more prone to dying from these gas emissions rather than getting malaria or AIDS/HIV. Our bodies are exposed to health threats of the likes of Lung damage, Pancreas damage, Heart damage, and Brain damage. All of this is caused by air pollution done by ignorant factories.
So how do we go green?
Before we familiarize ourselves with the steps in having a sustainable supply chain we must have a concrete definition of what it is. It was also said, “A sustainable supply chain tries to transmit goods as cheaply and quickly as possible to the upstream supply chain or end customers while reducing or eliminating negative environmental and social impacts”(Gençer, 2022). By implementing sustainable practices companies can use less energy and reduce the emissions of various air pollutants. Company’s can go sustainable following the 3 pillars: Financial Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability, and Social Sustainability. According to Gençer (2022), the following are 7 methods to going sustainable:
Figure 2- Haman, E. E. A. (2022, May 3). Creating a Sustainable Supply Chain Management Plan. LegalZoom. https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/creating-a-sustainable-supply-chain-management-plan
1. Find your supply chain's present key problems
The carbon footprint of any product varies depending on the supply chain. Finding the present weak points in your supply chain should thus start with measuring the carbon footprint of your goods. You may identify which operations need to be changed and start creating an effective supply chain sustainability strategy by calculating Product Carbon Footprint (PCF).
2. Improve transportation
Companies can cut their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by:
Distribute goods from distribution centers nearby to the destination.
Fill trucks and ships to the point of capacity.
Adopt electric vehicles, especially if the majority of the electricity is generated by renewable sources.
3. Partner with environmentally friendly suppliers
You can run your company in the most socially and ecologically responsible way imaginable, however, the GHG emissions, human rights compliance, and brand reputation of your company will suffer if your business partners are not on the other hand. Since developing countries may sell their products for less money in the absence of social and environmental laws, many firms, especially those in wealthy nations, purchase intermediate or raw resources from these nations. For instance, some companies operating in these areas have no qualms about disposing of their chemical waste in rivers or exploiting underage labor to cut costs. Thus you may demand ESG reports, carbon footprints, and PCFs of organizations that have been independently verified.
4. start reducing your inventory
Businesses require inventories for two reasons: either they use them as distribution hubs or they find it difficult to predict demand accurately. Big data, behavioral analytics, and deep learning models have improved businesses' ability to predict demand with greater accuracy. As a result, they won't require a big warehouse and can supply based on demand, solving the 13% GHG overall emissions that have been attributed to warehouses due to energy consumption. Smart HVAC and lighting solutions can also be used to lower the GHG emissions of warehouses.
5. Reuse by-products or water
Another business might use the waste you throw away as raw materials. For instance, beverage companies can recycle and use the waste from beverage bottles from bars, restaurants, and homes as a source of raw materials. The container deposit fees can bring in a modest profit for bars and restaurants, but they also dramatically lower the GHG emissions brought on by garbage disposal.
6. Utilize sustainable packing materials
Despite plastics being usually unbiodegradable and hazardous to the environment, numerous companies still continue to purchase plastic materials and exploit them for packaging since it is a cheaper material. Thus, for a sustainable supply chain, businesses should employ biodegradable packaging materials such as cardboard, paper, water-soluble plastics, organic fabric, and bamboo.
7. Influence Consumers and Regulators
More people than ever are taking an active and responsible role in addressing our social and environmental problems, including investors, legislators, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Firms, on the other hand, can push customers and decision-makers even harder to hasten the shift to a truly sustainable economy. Companies can also affect consumers by implementing discounts the more they decide to reduce their carbon footprint. For example, Starbucks offers a discount to their customers if they were to bring their own cups to drink from.
Lagunzad, R. (2022, December 14). What Are the Ways to Make Factories Eco-friendly? SoluM Europe. https://www.solumesl.com/en/insights/how-can-factories-become-good-for-the-environment
Agility Logistics. (2022, July 25). Best Practices for Green Supply Chain and Sustainability. Agility. https://www.agility.com/en/blog/what-are-green-supply-chain-practices-your-guide-to-supply-chain-sustainability/
Gençer, G. (2022, December 28). 7 Ways to Improve Your Supply Chain Sustainability in 2023. AIMultiple. https://research.aimultiple.com/supply-chain-sustainability/