Over the last several years, there has been increasing attention paid to the carbon footprint we leave in the world. This goes for the actions of everyone from consumers to corporations, with increasing pressure on all of the above to make changes for the benefit of the environment.
And overall, the response has been good. Many of us, both as individuals and in our roles in the workforce, are finding ways to conserve energy and water and to reduce pollution in the air, water, and soil.
Yet there is still much that can be done, particularly in areas that haven't received as much attention or action as these best-known factors. To get the maximum benefit for the environment, other areas must be addressed as well.
The usual view of equipment and the carbon footprint is to reduce its consumption of energy. That is certainly very important, but what we lose in that month-by-month perspective is the year-by-year impact of machinery.
Manufacturing equipment wears out and breaks down. It must eventually be decommissioned and disposed of. Yet that day of reckoning can be delayed with proper design and use of the equipment. Equipment manufacturers that get heavy-use parts from a wear plate company will build a superior product that will last longer in its assignment with you, giving you more years until you must dismantle and replace it and, consequently, generating less waste.
Fuel is an elusive target of green efforts. We feel great when we cut our carbon footprint by sourcing inputs from a green provider, but we may not take into account that the new provider is located further away. The resulting increase in fuel burned to cover the extra distance could equal or exceed the savings of finding that green provider to begin with.
Calculations of the cost of inputs should always factor in the cost of transport. This can be tricky since freight charges are often lumped together for large segments of the country. You may not pay any more to source from 400 miles away instead of 200, but the carbon is there to highlight the difference.
Bringing in inputs from the closest economical provider is a sure-fire way to see less diesel exhaust in the air.
Efficient Inventory Management
Building space is a challenging resource. It can be very easy to over-build or over-lease on space, thinking that it will help lower the risk of running out. But with so many high-tech tools available for supply chain management, it is no longer necessary to use space indiscriminately.
Any firm can now optimize inventories of both inputs and outputs to ensure that they aren't heating and illuminating any more space than is necessary. As part of every routine IT review, staff should look for opportunities to better understand what must be stored on site and what can be ordered on a shorter planning horizon. Software tools to track inventories are a must.
Everyone knows the importance of being more responsible with the environment. Some people have bought in enthusiastically, others have come along lately, and still others are resisting the changes. There is no question that the need to go green will only become greater, so companies that find solutions now for their carbon footprint will be those best positioned for profitability and avoidance of regulatory intervention as standards and expectations become stricter.