With 77 percent of manufacturing executives in agreement that energy prices will rise significantly next year, the focus of operations budgets is turning sharply toward how to cut the dependence on oil. With this in mind, EFT Research asked respondents to pinpoint what real projects they are investing in, what the challenges and barriers have been, and where they are seeing a return on investment.
The timely industry report revealed that the vast majority of respondents, 95 percent, agree that green manufacturing will continue to expand. Furthermore, 66 percent believe there to be a market for more expensive and greener products in their industry. And, it's not just the increased profits that are driving green initiatives – 43 percent of respondents report that environmental imperatives have resulted in improved efficiency and product quality for their operation.
So, what are they doing to achieve these encouragingly positive results? The most popular choice, that of 65 percent of respondents, was investing in recycling and reuse programs. Additionally water reduction programs (58 percent), continuous improvement (54 percent), energy management (50 percent), environmental management (46 percent), materials management (36 percent), establishing a corporate green team (33 percent), and supplier management (32 percent) are all reported to be making manufacturing leaner, greener and more profitable.
What's pushing manufacturers to adopt green initiatives where once there was such reluctance to invest? According to the survey, 64 percent of executives expect green initiatives to further their overall corporate sustainability strategy and vision, 62 percent see green initiatives as a good response to customer interest in environmentally friendly products and services, and 51 percent feel they are improving their public reputation. On the operations side, 52 percent noted cost reduction as a key benefit, and 47 percent saw improved efficiency.
Katharine O'Reilly, EFT's senior vice president of environmental research, suggests that it's the change in the attitude of manufacturing executives that is the most promising change. "When asked how they view green manufacturing initiatives, 84 percent told us that they see them as part of an overall optimization strategy. This marks a major sea change, and implies that environmental programs are becoming part of the standard arsenal of strategies employed to boost innovation and optimize operations." Indeed, 96 percent of executives agree that environmental initiatives and traditional business objectives were far from mutually exclusive, and can and should be combined to move businesses forward.
To read the full results of the survey, including information on environmental regulations faced, environmental project implementation and progress, energy efficiency investments, customer demands for environmental data, and manufacturing carbon footprint measurement, download the full 32-page report for free at http://events.eyefortransport.com/manufacturing/free_report.shtml.