How sustainable manufacturing can help reduce the environmental impact of industry :: InvestMacro


Written by Nabil NasrAnd the Rochester Institute of Technology

Nabil Nasr He is an associate dean and director Golisano Institute for Sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology. He is also the CEO of Remad InstituteCreated by the US government to conduct early-stage research and development to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, a sustainable industrial model for improving resource efficiency and reducing systemic energy, emissions and waste generation. Here are some highlights from an interview with The Conversation. Here, Nasr explains some of the ideas behind sustainable industrialization and why they are important. Answers have been modified for brevity and clarity.

Nabil Nasr, Associate Dean and Director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology, discusses sustainable manufacturing and other topics.

How do you explain sustainable manufacturing? What does the average person not know or understand about sustainable manufacturing?

When we talk about sustainable manufacturing, we mean cleaner and more efficient systems with lower resource consumption and lower waste and emissions. It is simply to reduce any negative environmental impact while still meeting demand, but in more efficient and sustainable ways. One example of sustainable manufacturing is an automobile factory that is running out of capacity at 10% of its typical emissions due to advanced and efficient processing technology, reducing production waste to near zero by figuring out how to swap out its shipping containers for parts supplied from one of its use of recyclable materials. use, accepting more recycled materials in production, and through innovation make their products more efficient and last longer.

Sustainability is about the right balance in the system. In our industrial system, this means that we take into account the impact of what we do and also make sure we understand the supply side impact of the natural resources we use. It’s understanding the environmental impacts and making sure we don’t unnecessarily create negative impacts. It is the ability to ensure that we can meet our demands now and in the future without facing any environmental challenges.

Early on in the Industrial Revolution, emissions, waste, and consumption of natural resources were low. Many of the impacts of industrialization on the environment were not taken into account because the volumes we were producing were much lower than we have today. The techniques and methods of manufacturing that we use today are really based on a lot of those methods that we developed at the time.



The truth is that the situation today has changed radically, but our approach has not. There is a lot of industrialization happening all over the world. A lot of pollution and waste generated. In addition, a lot of the materials we use in manufacturing are non-renewable resources.

So it seems that industrialized countries have now picked up a lot of bad habits. We know that growth comes from these developing countries and we don’t want them to repeat those bad habits. But we only want to raise their standard of living without the consequences we have brought on the environment.

absolutely yes. So there was an article I read a long time ago saying that China and India would either destroy the world or save them. And I think the logic was that if China and India copied the model and technologies used in the West to build their industrial system, the world would see a severe negative impact on the environment. The main factor here is the large scale of activities needed to support a very large population. However, if they were more innovative and came up with more efficient and cleaner methods that are better than used in the West to build industrial enterprises, they would save the world because the scale of what they are doing is huge.

Speaking of how these two countries could destroy or save the world, do you remain optimistic?

definitely. I work for the United Nations Environment Program’s International Resources Committee. One of the roles of the IRP is to inform policy through validated independent scientific studies. One of the committee’s reports is called the Global Resources Outlook. The last report was published in 2019.

Experts say that if business as usual continues, we can potentially increase greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2060. However, if we use effective sustainability measures around the world, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a significant amount, even by up to 90% %. A 2018 study led by IRP It found that applying remanufacturing in conjunction with other resource recovery methods such as comprehensive refurbishment, repair and reuse can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of those products by 79% – 99% across manufacturing supply chains.

So there is optimism if we use several sustainability measures. However, it took me long enough to know that it’s always frustrating to see that pointers are there; Methods have been identified to address some of these issues, but the desire to actually employ them is not. Despite that, I remain optimistic because we know enough about the right path forward and it’s never too late to move in the right direction.

Were there any lessons we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic that we can apply to the challenges we face?

We have learned a lot from the coronavirus crisis. When the danger became known, although not everyone agreed, people around the world took important measures and actions to meet the challenge. We have accepted changes in the way we live and interact, and have mobilized all of our resources to develop vaccines and address medical supplies shortages. The bottom line is that we have risen to the occasion and have, for the most part, taken action to deal with risk in a big way.

The environmental challenges we face today, such as climate change, are also serious global challenges. However, it has been happening over a long period, and unfortunately, it hasn’t been taken as seriously as it should be. We have certainly learned that when we have the will to face serious challenges, we can face them.

The last question. Give me the elevator idea of ​​remanufacturing.

Remanufacturing is the process by which we return a used product to its new or better condition. Through a rigorous industrial process, we deconstruct the product to the component level. We clean it, inspect it, restore it, and rehabilitate every part of it. Then we reassemble the product similar to when it was built the first time. The truth is that by doing this, you are using anywhere from 70% to 90% of the material recovered from the use phase. This has much lower impacts on the environment when compared to making new products from raw materials.

You do not result from virgin material for the sake of it. You save the energy that made those parts; You save the capital equipment that made those parts; You save labor cost. So the savings are great. The total savings is about 50%. For example, a US remanufactured auto part It requires less than 10% of the energy to make a new one, and less than 5% of the new material. This means lower product costs while providing the consumer with a higher quality product. Examples of commonly remanufactured products include construction equipment, automobile engines and transmissions, medical equipment, and aircraft parts. These products are very similar to new products, and companies such as Xerox, Caterpillar and GE have made recycling an important part of their overall operations.Conversation

About the author:

Nabil NasrVice President for Academic Affairs and Director of GIS, Rochester Institute of Technology

This article has been republished from Conversation Under a Creative Commons License. Read the original article.


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