Thinking Lean and Green – Sustainability in Manufacturing

Posted by Casey Cephas | 11/11/20 1:04 PM

Manufacturing is undoubtedly important to our modern lives by creating the majority of the products we rely on every day. However, it’s also important to acknowledge that our industry plays a role in the growing concern over climate change. According to the EPA, industry is responsible for 22% of greenhouse gas emissions, just behind transportation (28%) and electricity (27%). Of course, this is just one example of how human activity can impact the environment, and we must consider all avenues to protect our natural resources.

Importance of sustainability in manufacturing

As a collective industry, manufacturing has a responsibility to operate in a more economical and sustainable manner. We must heed the warnings of science before change causes irreversible damage to the environment for future generations.

Not only is it in everyone’s best interests for manufacturers to adhere to the latest environmental regulations, but the EPA also builds the case that sustainable manufacturing can be beneficial to business and, in fact, boost the bottom line. The advantages can range from improving operational efficiency (therefore cutting costs) to enhancing brand reputation as more consumers prefer eco-friendly products.

Tapecon's sustainability initiatives

As a company with a long history of embracing innovation, Tapecon established a multi-faceted sustainability plan in 2015. And we continually evolve and enhance the plan to further reduce our impact on the environment. Here are some of our ongoing green and lean initiatives.

 

      FacilityImprove    Facility and technology improvements

Over the past few years, Tapecon has installed new utility and production equipment that offer improved performance and energy efficiency, including:

    • Energy-efficient compressors
    • Energy-efficient LED lighting and motion sensors
    • Facility-wide energy management system to improve the efficiency of our HVAC equipment
    • New printing technology for efficient curing and drying of ink
    • Recycling programs for paper, plastic, cardboard, e-waste, scrap metal, and pallets

      ReduceEnergy    Reducing energy use

We’ve taken many steps to reduce the amount of energy it takes to produce high-quality products for our customers. After determining a baseline of our energy use, we measure and monitor our kWh usage on a monthly basis – and make it a goal to reduce that metric by 2% throughout the year.

 

      InkWaste    Reducing waste and hazardous liquids

Raw materials and chemicals are necessary for our line of business – but we can minimize the amount of waste we produce. We’ve designed our processes to reduce hazardous waste by 10%, compared to our baseline. One way we do this is by implementing new ink technologies in our printing processes that produce less waste and VOC emissions. Tapecon also participates in WNY Clean Production Leaders program, which works with small and medium sized manufacturers to reduce their chemical footprint. As part of the program, Tapecon has completed a Chemical Footprint Survey and is working on a Chemical Policy to create a management system that aims to avoid chemicals of high concern and select safer alternatives.

 

      OptimizeMaterial    Optimizing materials

Being mindful of how we use raw materials during converting or printing processes is crucial to minimizing waste. A few of our practices include: 

    • Using a “first-in, first-out” inventory system that prioritizes using older chemicals prevent them from expiring before use
    • Separating non-hazardous and hazardous waste streams to reduce the amount of hazardous waste that must be disposed of
    • Sealing and containing processes to prevent the escape of fumes or leaks
    • Carefully transferring chemicals to minimize spills and additional waste generated during cleanup

      WorkforceDevelopment    Workforce development

To achieve our company’s sustainability goals, it’s paramount that our team members are educated on practices and supported with a safe work environment. Tapecon regularly provides communication and conducts training that help our operators reduce hazardous waste, use less solvent and ink, and eliminate non-conforming products that lead to unnecessary waste.

              

    FoundingMBR    Founding member of WNYSBR

As a sign of our commitment to Buffalo and the Western New York region, Tapecon was a founding member of the WNY Sustainable Roundtable (WNY SBR) in 2014. Today, the group is comprised of over 60 organizations that collaborate on environmentally friendly business practices. 

 

Get started with sustainable manufacturing

At Tapecon, we have over 100 years of experience helping customers solve their complex product challenges. Learn more about our contract manufacturing.

Topics: Manufacturing

Written by Casey Cephas

Casey is the Marketing Coordinator at Tapecon Inc.

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