'Green' and 'industry' are not opposites
David Dornfeld argues for a holistic strategy in manufacturing businesses
According to the most widely accepted definition of sustainability, a sustainable business has objectives on three different fronts: the environment, the economy, and social capital. These are often seen as conflicting goals, an idea that results in a search for compromises and tradeoffs. David Dornfeld, Department Head of the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability at the University of California (Berkeley), opposes this point of view. He states that 'a business must be analyzed holistically, that is, let’s not fiddle with just little parts'. In such a holistic approach, the economy, the environment, and social capital become integrated. Much of the foundation for Dornfeld’s ideas can be found in the Total Quality concepts of W. Edwards Deming.
A manufacturing business that takes a holistic approach as a strategy will naturally evolve towards green manufacturing claims David Dornfeld. It will, for instance, take the following aspects into account:
Efficiency: making the same product using fewer resources is always a good strategy. Energy efficiency is the most obvious example of how economic and environmental thinking can be integrated.
Continuous improvement: to make continuous improvement an intrinsic part of a company’s culture, ‘improvement’ should not be thought of as synonymous with 'cost reduction'. It should include every kind of improvement, including those that benefit the environment.
Relying on scarce resources is a business risk, not just an environmental problem. This becomes all the more so when thinking on the longer term.
Governments put pressure on companies using regulations, penalties, tax benefits, and/or tax obligations. A holistic business deals proactively with government pressures.
Value the pressure from customers and society. Customers do not take only their direct benefits into account; they also care for the environment (their environment). In other words, they think holistically too. And customers are not the only part of society important to your company. Think, for instance, about how the self-motivation of employees can be influenced by pressure from their children.
Value pressure from competitors. Companies are never isolated. If a competitor is adopting an integrated strategy and promotes green manufacturing, it is taking a step forward. Ultimately that means that those that do not follow suit will be left behind and lose market share.
In other words, a holistic business strategy will help to keep a manufacturing business 'green and lean'.
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