How-to Guide for Manufacturer Sustainability

Deciding to operate in sustainable and socially responsible manner is one thing, but for many companies, knowing how to achieve that goal is quite another.

That’s why the OECD’s “Sustainable Manufacturing Toolkit” is a useful place for businesses that are serious about implementing sustainability measures to start. It helps answer the age-old question: What do we do now?

The mission of the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is to “promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.” The organization provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems.

“We think it is important for you to have the right tools, but also to be informed about what works,” says Andrew Wyckoff, OECD director of the Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry.

Measuring performance is a “vital first step to improvement,” he adds. The 54-page start-up guide includes a set of “internationally applicable, common and comparable indicators” to measure the environmental performance of manufacturing facilities in any business size, sector or country, he says.

The toolkit’s centerpiece features seven “action steps” to sustainable manufacturing, designed help companies measure, assess, improve and understand what’s needed to maintain sustainable performance.

It also makes a strong case that sustainable manufacturing creates real value for businesses. For one thing the green marketplace is worth trillions. “The global marketplace for low-carbon products is already estimated to be worth over $5 trillion and growing.”

Other value points: Retailers are demanding that suppliers respond to green consumers, a green reputation drives up financial value and a little investment in greening can lead to big savings.

On the latter point, the UK’s Carbon Trust estimates that most businesses can cut their energy bills by up to 20 percent with only a small investment – a saving that could equate to as much as a 5 percent increase in overall profits.

The OECD’s toolkit, which includes the start-up guide and a Web Portal, is a comprehensive and practical starting point that tells businesses how to improve the efficiency of production processes.

The result of a two-year consultation process, it starts with the basics and is purposely generic but is well worth the price of admission— it’s free.

writer, editor, reader and general good (ok mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by

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