“We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change – and it has to start today.”
Greta Thunberg, Swedish Environmental Activist
These striking words were spoken by an impassioned Greta Thunberg during her 2018 TEDx speech. The teenage climate activist from Sweden wasn't just speaking to individual citizens of the world, but rather to global leaders and corporations.
After all, there are many small changes each of us can make in our daily lives to reduce the impact of climate change. However, it's going to take significant changes on a much larger scale to truly save our planet.
Enterprises in the industrial sector have a responsibility to implement changes to their processes and procedures in order to reduce their carbon footprint. Although they may take a bit more coordination than merely switching out traditional incandescent bulbs for LEDs and making an effort to recycle, the bigger steps we'll discuss below are certainly worth the time and work.
Not only can you make a positive environmental impact, but you can reduce costs and boost your bottom line at the same time.
Of course, there is a multitude of universal ideas that can apply to any business looking to go green; however, the following steps should be considered by those that specialize in manufacturing, processing, or other commercial services.
Businesses in the industrial or food and beverage sectors are known to be major consumers of energy. Energy sources like fossil fuels, natural gas, and coal are finite; they are not sustainable.
In addition to harming the planet, businesses that use these energy sources are also hurting their own bottom line as the costs associated with finite resources only increase over time.
There are numerous technologies available today that can minimize the reliance on finite energy sources that harm the environment.
We all know the saying, "Reduce, reuse, and recycle." It's the mantra at the very core of any "green" initiative.
Remanufacturing is a concept that takes “reuse” to the extreme — reclaiming certain existing materials and giving them new life. It involves either transforming these old materials into something totally new and different or cleaning them up and reusing them for the same purpose.
These processes are both more cost-effective and more eco-friendly than manufacturing brand new materials.
Of course, remanufacturing may not be appropriate or possible in every situation, but it can be a viable alternative in a number of industries.
Businesses that function in manufacturing, food processing, cleaning, and laundering typically use a great deal of water. But is that water being used in the most efficient way? How much of that water is going to waste?
In some cases, it is possible to reuse water as long as it is properly treated. Through processes like ceramic microfiltration and reverse osmosis, contaminants can be removed to meet wastewater treatment standards.
And believe it or not, this reusable water can actually be of a higher quality than the freshwater supplied by a municipality.
By using these treatment methods, industrial enterprises can stop reusable water from going to waste in sewers while also keeping costs low, ultimately reducing environmental impact and boosting cost-efficiency.
While you may be tempted to discard old equipment for the newest, state-of-the-art models, this is not the most eco-friendly decision. Sure, new machinery is often equipped with eco-friendly features, but simply discarding current equipment that is still in working condition will contribute to unnecessary waste.
Instead, consider repairing, maintaining, and upgrading your current machinery.
However, if your equipment is nearing the end of its life or is not working as efficiently as it could, consider upgrading to an energy-efficient model.
For example, if your old boiler is causing your facility's energy consumption to skyrocket, you're not doing your business or the environment any favors by keeping it around. Reduce your costs and your carbon emissions by investing in a new, eco-friendly model.
People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.
Simon Sinek, Author and Inspirational Speaker
This quote by Simon Sinek captures just part of the reason many businesses today are "going green." You see, a Nielsen report from 2018 revealed that 81% of global consumers feel strongly that companies should take steps to protect the environment. 
So, it’s likely that a concern for sustainability and the environment factors heavily into the purchasing decisions of your customers or clients. To compete on today's eco-conscious playing field, you will need to be transparent in exactly what your business is doing to offset your own impact and reduce your carbon footprint.
In 2018, approximately 22% of all greenhouse gas emissions were attributed to the industrial sector. And according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, these emissions are primarily the result of burning fossil fuels and the chemical reactions that occur when processing raw materials to manufacture goods.
The truth is that the amount of industrial emissions is far greater than that of small businesses and homes. Every individual has a responsibility to minimize their own carbon footprint, but the greatest impact on our environment can come from the industrial sector.
Going green does not have to be a sacrifice. You often get back a lot more than you give up. Prioritizing eco-friendliness may seem challenging at first, but keep in mind that the suggestions listed above can also lower your costs and increase efficiency.
When you make a plan to minimize your facility's carbon footprint, you help your business, your community, and the environment.
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