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Critical Issue: Sustainability

Sustainability has become a major industrial force that is shaping the future of manufacturing. Resource efficiency, greater resilience, cleaner operations, reduced waste and renewable sources of energy are just part of the sustainability mix in a world of increasingly-informed and environmentally-aware customers and next generation employees. Encompassing thought-leading environmental, social and economic policies, sustainability strategies have become fundamental to delivering both financial and competitive advantage.


  • Financial and competitive benefits of sustainability leadership
  • Emphasis on Social and Corporate Responsibility
When Sustainability Is Free
As quality did in the 1960s, sustainability is evolving from a perceived costly add-on to an integral practice that can deliver value to all parts of the manufacturing enterprise.
Sustainability as a Competitive Weapon
As customer demand for green products grows, manufacturers more than ever see sustainability as a source of competitive advantage. Members of the Manufacturing Leadership Council recently discussed how sustaina…
Getting More Creative About Sustainability
Siemens PLM Software Senior Vice President Zvi Feuer advocates the use of digital manufacturing techniques to help advance a manufacturing company’s sustainability efforts.
Strategize for Sustainability: An Urgent Issue for 21st Century Manufacturers
Dow Chemical Executive Vice President Carol Williams believes that sustainability is the most urgent and important issue facing today’s manufacturing industry. Her insights into Dow’s own internal transformatio…
Sustainable Manufacturing Makes Cents
A look into the origins of the explosion of interest in sustainable manufacturing and some of the major success paths that companies are following.
Achieving the Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet, Profit
To achieve the optimum intersection between sustainability and manufacturing, a complete life-cycle approach to thinking about products is mandatory.
The Future of Manufacturing: Efficient, Experimental, Sustainable?
Fundamental changes in the way manufacturing operates around the world are set to transform the global industry in the years ahead. Professor Steve Evans from Cambridge University’s Institute for Manufacturing …

Blog Posts

Share Your Insights on Manufacturing Sustainability 4.0  in Sustainability

The Manufacturing Leadership Council invites you to participate in this year's Manufacturing Sustainability 4.0 Research Project. The results of this survey will be published in the December 2017 issue of the Manufacturing Leadership Journal. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Oct 16, 2017
Views: 7419
Green Manufacturers Are Taking the LEED  in Sustainability

Perhaps one of the most uncharted implications of the journey to Manufacturing 4.0 is how new digital technologies, pervasive sensor networks, lean production models, smart products, and advanced new materials can help the global manufacturing industry achieve higher levels of sustainability in their operations. Green manufacturing also saves money. Sometimes, a whole lot of money. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Jul 26, 2016
Views: 15348
The Great Fuel Cell Challenge: Will Toyota’s 5,600 Free Patents Change the Green Car Game?  in Sustainability

Just when you thought you were getting used to the idea of plugging your new electric car into a charging station for an hour or so before electro-gliding into the wild blue yonder, along comes another fuel-efficiency paradigm for the future of the auto industry that threatens to upset the electric vehicle bandwagon. Or will it? Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Jan 20, 2015
Views: 15195
Should Manufacturers Support New Environmental Initiatives?  in Sustainability

As members of the United Nations gather this week in Lima, Peru, to try to reach an accord on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the Obama Administration is pursuing plans of its own to cut ozone emissions in the U.S., one in a series of environment initiatives the administration has undertaken this year that would affect manufacturers large and small and in every industry sector. Read More →

Posted by David Brousell on Dec 03, 2014
Views: 15678
Paying a Penance for Poor Quality--Thoughts from the Recycling Center  in Sustainability

When you are putting in 40-to-80-hour work weeks, it is sometimes good to take the time to do activities that allow you to clear your mind while still being productive. These activities give you time to take a step back and think about how business or personal processes can be improved. Washing the car or cleaning the house can fall into this category sometimes. Recently, a trip to the recycling center brought about my awareness of areas where my business could improve. Read More →

Posted by Everette Phillips on Jan 24, 2014
Views: 15009
Lean To Green: Manufacturing’s Biggest Innovation Opportunity?  in Sustainability

Still think sustainability doesn’t pay? Try telling that to Robert McDonald, chairman, president, and CEO of Procter & Gamble. In P&G’s latest annual Sustainability Report - released last month, McDonald reveals that his company has saved nearly $1 billion in costs over the last 10 years directly due to its sustainability efforts, even as sales increased by $10 billion in the same period. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Dec 11, 2012
Views: 13194
Danone’s Global Sustainability Strategy  in Sustainability

Between rising oil prices and carbon footprint regulations, manufacturing executives have made energy management a priority in their organizations. But is it a strategy? According to Deloitte Consulting, energy prices will continue to rise as global demand increases. Ultimately, that is going to force companies to think of energy as a manageable asset that stretches across every aspect of their business -- much like the IT infrastructure or even the human resources department. To that end, Deloitte is advising companies to adopt a holistic, enterprise-wide strategy. By increasing the energy efficiency of its facilities and operations, an organization can create additional economic value with limited new risk. Read More →

Posted by ML Admin on May 14, 2012
Views: 13012
Cradle-to-Cradle Meets the Subscription Economy  in Sustainability

Have you ever been to a garbage dump? The number of washing machines you’ll see will astound you. Seemingly one of the biggest and longer-lasting purchases a household will make, and yet the appliance has an end of life cycle that is needlessly wasteful and expensive. Read More →

Posted by Shawn Price on Apr 24, 2012
Views: 9474
Sustainability Demands Innovative Solutions  in Sustainability

Sustainability has come a long way. No longer considered the domain of environmentalists and do-gooders, it’s now generally accepted as a critical business imperative for just about every organization. One of the forces driving this shift, of course, is the fact that consumers worldwide are demanding that companies play a larger role in solving the sustainability challenge. In China, for example, more than 25% of consumers feel that corporations have a responsibility to tackle environmental issues, but only 15% think corporations are taking action, according to OgilvyEarth’s recent report Get Going With Green: Closing the Sustainability Gap. Read More →

Posted by Lisa Bodell on Jul 01, 2011
Views: 9264
Sustainability: Could the U.S. Fall Behind?  in Sustainability

One of the things the recent recession has done is focus greater attention on manufacturing as the foundation of economic vitality and growth. Many of us in the industry welcome the spotlight for a number of reasons. First, it's true that manufacturing is the core of a healthy economy. Who and what are we if we don't make things? Read More →

Posted by David Brousell on Jun 27, 2011
Views: 11270
ERP Tackles the Environment  in Sustainability

In many ways, the term Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is no longer a good fit for the enterprise software platforms on which most manufacturers rely to run major parts of their business. The ERP term, of course, derives from material requirements planning (MRP) and manufacturing resource planning (MRP II). Both of those earlier classes of applications focused on internal manufacturing processes such as material, production, inventory, and financial planning and management. Read More →

Posted by Jeff Moad on Feb 24, 2011
Views: 10398
Treading a Greener Path to Recovery  in Sustainability

What effect has the economic recession had on environmental excellence programs in the manufacturing industry? Has the goal of environmental excellence been, or will it be, sacrificed in the interests of near-term cash flow savings in the post-recessionary manufacturing world? So far, this hasn’t happened. Most leading manufacturing companies we talk to still recognize the importance of having a clearly defined environmental strategy. These are pragmatic strategies that go beyond compliance mandates or communicating real or potential environmental achievements. The strategies now being put in place by leading organizations prioritize efforts to maximize the real, tangible benefits that can be harvested from sustainability initiatives. Read More →

Posted by Unknown user on Nov 11, 2010
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Views: 6395
Manufacturers Need a More Holistic Approach to Energy Management  in Sustainability

As ever-increasing worldwide demand continues to push energy prices upward, maybe it’s time manufacturing companies took a broader view of how they can save money and manage their energy consumption more effectively. Industry is one of the largest consumers of energy, and manufacturers have long considered managing consumption and minimizing costs high priorities. Many companies have already done much to improve the energy efficiency of their plants by repairing or replacing old or inefficient equipment, and optimizing maintenance, instrumentation, and automation programs. Read More →

Posted by Andy Chatha on Nov 11, 2010
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Views: 6190
Sustainability: Are We Making Progress?  in Sustainability

The green movement has been on the march for many years now. So how are we doing? Like many things, it depends upon whom you ask. To hear John Gagel tell it, the sustainability movement has crossed an important threshold. The manager of sustainable practices at Lexmark believes that green has now reached a critical mass. Speaking last week at a panel discussion on sustainability put together by SAP, which offers software to automate and manage business processes associated with sustainability, Gagel said Lexmark has been working with partners to find ways to innovate in everything from the language of sustainability to taking costs out of the supply chain. Read More →

Posted by David Brousell on Nov 10, 2010
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Views: 6513
Cloud Computing: The Pros and Cons  in Sustainability

The increasing pressure to control costs is causing many manufacturing executives to take a closer look at software as a service (SaaS), the computing model that calls for users to access business applications over the Internet rather than having those applications loaded on company servers. The SaaS model’s purported benefits, chief among them being a lower cost of ownership when compared with on-premises software, clearly are attractive to resource-starved executives. Read More →

Posted by Marty Weil on Mar 22, 2010
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Views: 7095
Growing a Greener Warehouse  in Sustainability

If plans for your warehouse/distribution center include becoming more green, consider these tips from Rajiv Saxena, vice president of supply chain solutions, APL Logistics. Read More →

Posted by Inbound Logistics on Mar 01, 2010
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Views: 6812


P&G, Alcoa, Tesla Pair Up With Clean Energy Experts To Foster Sustainable Manufacturing  in Sustainability

Backed by $2.6 million in state funds, the U.S. Energy Department’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative has announced a new program of two-year “Technology in Residence” pilot projects, pairing up a leading clean energy expert from a U.S. national lab, with a senior technology executive in a major manufacturing firm or industry consortia. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Sep 18, 2015
Views: 26084
Coca-Cola Advances on Water Use Sustainability Goals, While Other Food Manufacturers Lag  in Sustainability

The Coca-Cola Company this week said it is on track to achieve its goal of replenishing all the water used to make its products by the end of 2015, five years ahead of its previously-announced schedule. Read More →

Posted by Jeff Moad on Aug 27, 2015
Views: 14932
What's Next: Beyond Manufacturing 4.0  in Sustainability

Ted Duclos outlines a biologically inspired vision of sustainability--and manufacturing--at the ML Summit 2015. Read More →

Posted by Sue Pelletier on Jun 03, 2015
Views: 16325
Is The Future Of Flight Electric?  in Sustainability

Electric aircraft, will they ever fly? Well, some already have. But right now they’re just prototypes, very small, and with limited range. Nevertheless, some of the world’s leading aircraft makers are now starting to get serious about research into electrically-powered aircraft. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Feb 10, 2015
Views: 13986
Follow That Tesla! Schiphol’s Airport Cabs Go Green  in Sustainability

Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, one of the busiest international airports in Europe, has just taken delivery of a 167-vehicle fleet of Tesla electric cars in a bid to become the world’s most eco-friendly airport. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Oct 27, 2014
Views: 13029
Model for Measuring Product Sustainability Proposed  in Sustainability

Manufacturers typically track and report their sustainability improvement progress in terms of resource savings and emission reductions. But what about the sustainability characteristics of the products themselves? What if manufacturers—and their customers—had an objective way to measure and compare the sustainability of specific product through their lifecycles? Read More →

Posted by Jeff Moad on Aug 28, 2014
Views: 11690
Harley Previews ‘Concept’ Electric Motorbike  in Sustainability

Harley-Davidson, the iconic American motorbike maker, revealed its first electric ‘Hog’ this week. The prototype model will now begin a 2-year tour, starting this month in New York, to gather direct customer feedback before any decisions are made about full production. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Jun 20, 2014
Views: 10069
Tesla’s Move to Open Patent Portfolio: Inspired or Foolish?  in Sustainability

When is a manufacturer’s patent portfolio more valuable in the public domain than protected behind firewalls and lawyers? When, as open intellectual property, it has the potential to disrupt existing markets and create new ones. At least that is Tesla Motors’ public rationale for stating last week that, going forward, it “will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.” Read More →

Posted by Jeff Moad on Jun 16, 2014
Views: 11430
China To Scrap Six Million Dirty Cars This Year  in Sustainability

The Chinese government announced plans this week to remove up to six million dirty vehicles from its roads by the end of the year in an urgent bid to reduce the devastating levels of pollution clogging up its cities. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on May 29, 2014
Views: 10545
Retailers Push Manufacturers to Document Sustainable Practices  in Sustainability

Consumer goods manufacturers are feeling increased pressure to document their environmental impacts and sustainability efforts, as large retailers expand efforts to measure the sustainability of their suppliers. Read More →

Posted by Jeff Moad on Dec 03, 2013
Views: 13069
Sweet Green Tomatoes: Symbiotic Manufacturing Sustainability In Action  in Sustainability

Sustainable manufacturing initiatives are becoming ever more inventive, it seems. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Feb 01, 2013
Views: 9037
Green Pharma Goes Mobile: Safer Solvents App Launched By Industry Leaders  in Sustainability

In an effort to slash the amount of potentially harmful waste in the development and production of new drugs and medicines, a group of leading global pharmaceuticals companies have joined forces to help create a new mobile app that guides developers in the use of more environmentally-friendly solvents – a key ingredient in the production process. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Jan 30, 2013
Views: 9805
Sustainability That Customers Will Pay For  in Sustainability

Sustainability is in the eye of the beholder. That newfangled aphorism was the theme of the most recent meeting of the Manufacturing Leadership Council. Read More →

Posted by Chris Chiappinelli on Dec 19, 2012
Views: 12052
Boeing, BMW Join Forces on Carbon Fiber Manufacturing and Recycling  in Sustainability

The rapid development of new composite materials for advanced light-weight vehicles is becoming a rich area of innovation and collaboration across different industry sectors. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Dec 12, 2012
Views: 8246
Renault’s Light Touch On Future Factories  in Sustainability

French auto group Renault will inaugurate over 400,000 square meters of solar panels later this week at six of its French production sites in what the company says is the largest solar energy project in the global auto industry. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Nov 06, 2012
Views: 7791
The Energy Management Movement  in Sustainability

The kick-off discussion on the second day of the Manufacturing Leadership Summit focused on energy management in manufacturing. Read More →

Posted by ML Admin on May 02, 2012
Views: 8149
Dow Has Business to Sustain  in Sustainability

Some at Dow Chemical were a bit squeamish when Bill Ginn, chief conservation officer at the Nature Conservancy, visited the company’s Midland, MI, offices on Earth Day in 2011. Most manufacturers would be. But instead of a contentious meeting pitting one of the world’s largest manufacturers against a leading sustainability watchdog, Dow executives walked away with new business opportunities on their minds. Read More →

Posted by Chris Chiappinelli on May 01, 2012
Views: 7378
Contract Worker Welfare: How Much Responsibility Do Manufacturers Have?  in Sustainability

Just how responsible should brand owners and retailers be held for the health, safety, and growth of the contract workers--often located in far-flung, low-cost countries--who build their products? Read More →

Posted by Jeff Moad on Apr 13, 2012
Views: 9332
Would Your Suppliers' Labor Practices Pass Scrutiny?  in Sustainability

As Apple Computer can testify, manufacturers of consumer products that don't stay on top of the labor practices engaged in by even their furthest-flung suppliers are risking their reputations and, ultimately, their competitiveness. Read More →

Posted by Jeff Moad on Mar 16, 2012
Views: 7436
Critical Metals and Minerals: From Just in Time to Just Not There  in Sustainability

As the planet's population grows and, in many developing companies, becomes more affluent, and as geopolitical and policy issues continue to grow, manufacturers increasingly face risks related to unstable supplies of certain critical metals and minerals, according to a recently-released report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Read More →

Posted by Jeff Moad on Mar 05, 2012
Views: 7648
Design for Sustainability: Where's the Data?  in Sustainability

Increasingly, manufacturers are attempting to drive sustainability into their products at the design stage, conciously engineering in only parts and materials that meet the sustainability criteria of customers and regulators. Read More →

Posted by Jeff Moad on Jan 30, 2012
Views: 8008
Sustainability: Monitoring the Supply Chain  in Sustainability

Today, most manufacturers attempting to monitor and shape the sustainability performance of their suppliers don't base their evaluations on specific KPIs or hard improvement targets. Read More →

Posted by Jeff Moad on Jan 03, 2012
Views: 6579
Paris Hire Cars Go Electric: Vive La Difference?  in Sustainability

Fancy a romantic spin along the Champs-Élysées, or a quiet ride up to Montmartre? Now you can go green in an all-electric hire car. Read More →

Posted by Paul Tate on Dec 07, 2011
Views: 6665
Conflict Minerals Regulations: Manufacturers Lagging on Compliance  in Sustainability

Although the US Congress passed legislation over a year ago requiring it, few manufacturers have put in place policies regarding their use of so-called conflict minerals, and even fewer are able to determine the source of potential conflict minerals, according to a recent survey. Read More →

Posted by Jeff Moad on Oct 19, 2011
Views: 7625
Is Eco-Friendly Plant-Based Plastic the Next Step in Packaging?  in Sustainability

In its latest sustainability report card, CPG giant Proctor & Gamble this week said it intends to expand the use of sustainable plant-based polyethylene plastic bottles for some its product in North America beginning this fall. Read More →

Posted by Jeff Moad on Oct 12, 2011
Views: 7381
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