A recent article in Industry Week on sustainable manufacturing indicated that there are only a few bumps in the road before a smooth, green ride. In fact, immediately after noting that while, as a concept, sustainability in manufacturing is easy to define, it is far harder to practically interpret and adopt, the article immediately diverges into how to design an effective sustainability roadmap.
While the advice is good, I think it does a great disservice by completely skipping over a discussion of the bumps in the road, how big they are, and how long it’s going to take to get around them, especially in North America. In North America, we’re facing the following bumps, and they are all biggies:
- How do you market the benefits of sustainable manufacturing? Most people care about the end product, not the plant. And the last thing you want to do is be another greenwasher!
- Most people are not of a sustainable mindset. They’re of a profit mindset, and they still see sustainable as a cost and not a savings.
- Even those that understand that sustainable is not a cost but a benefit don’t want to spend the money it costs to upgrade production lines and factories to use more sustainable production methods. And this is the real kicker. Until this changes, it’s a long road ahead to sustainable manufacturing in North America.