Companies that commit to sustainable manufacturing can help improve the environment and relationships with nearby residents and businesses. And, yes, they may even increase profitability.

If someone offered your company a way to triple impact the bottom line of your composites business, you’d likely jump at the chance. Evidence shows that sustainable manufacturing could be that opportunity for composites manufacturers.

Many companies undertake green manufacturing because they are pressured to do so by regulators, consumers and shareholders who want them to reduce their impact on the environment. And as the availability and cost of materials and energy fluctuate, operational costs demand more efficient use of resources.

But why should composites manufacturers want to go green rather than feel pressured to do so? There are many benefits coming their way – including sound economic, social and environmental performance. What makes green manufacturing a win all the way around is that it can help composites suppliers and fabricators reduce costs and increase profits. The triple bottom line – financial profitability, environmental integrity and social equity – are business objectives anyone can get behind.

It takes initiative to go green, but the National Association of Manufacturers believes that by encouraging sustainability within their organizations, manufacturers can benefit from innovative, cost-effective technologies and operational improvements. The National Council for Advanced Manufacturing (NACFAM) takes the same line and seeks to guide manufacturers toward sustainable manufacturing that reduces and eliminates negative environmental impacts while at the same time creating economic, revenue-generating opportunities through decreased costs.

What Constitutes Green Manufacturing?

Green manufacturing is a broad initiative that touches on every aspect of a manufacturing business. Building systems, product design, production systems, office systems and more offer opportunities for sustainable improvement. NACFAM defines it this way: “Sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products that use processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources, and are economically sound and safe for employees, communities and consumers.”

For Brock Elliott, president of Campion Marine in Kelowna, British Columbia, a series of “aha” moments got him headed in a green direction. “Our resin and gel coat supplier approached us in 2009 about testing a bioresin for a fiberglass boat application,” says Elliott. “It was our first experience working with a more sustainable composite. The bioresin composite provided better elastic and elongation properties and higher Barcol hardness for our curing process – added benefits to its sustainable characteristics. It had all the properties we were looking for.”