The Green Manufacturing Mindset

Is Green Manufacturing a new business model? The results of the Crowd survey suggest not – instead it appears to be the combination of a range of business improvement opportunities which require a particular approach or “mindset”.


As we know, sustainability improvements can be made by manufacturers at many points along a product’s supply chain (see Figure 1).


Figure 1: Sustainability Opportunities Map


The key question is, therefore: which interventions create the greatest benefit and should be prioritised? The results from the Crowd survey for the “Green Manufacturing” event (shown in Figure 2) provide an equivocal answer. Respondents have not favoured (or rejected) any of the nine opportunity areas suggested in the survey. Instead, they have provided surprisingly even support for all of the opportunities (with a couple of exceptions), suggesting that each opportunity is important, but perhaps that its importance varies by sector or by where a company is on its sustainability journey.

Figure 2: Current Results from the Crowd Survey Question 3


The clear preference for resource efficiency in the production process suggests that respondents recognise this as an area that can be addressed most easily and/or that substantial improvements in the efficiency of production processes remain. This latter point is consistent with the findings of the Next Manufacturing Revolution report [] which we produced with the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing and 2degrees in 2013.


If we look across all of the opportunities, there are four clear capabilities or traits needed to access them successfully, with these themes repeating across multiple opportunities. Together, these could be considered as a different “mindset”:

  1. Openness to ideas. No company will be able to successfully address multiple opportunities without welcoming new ideas – from staff, internally across sites, and from external parties.
  2. Collaboration. Reaching across the supply chain to engage with other parties requires a collaborative approach to suppliers, customers, peers and other stakeholders – with transparency and sharing of information. For example, packaging adds value to the manufacturing supply chain in a wide variety of ways including containing, protecting, transporting, labelling, displaying, marketing and preserving products. Therefore changing packaging is a multi-purpose, multi-party optimisation exercise.
  3. CEO leadership. Many of the opportunities require support from multiple functions within a company. Remanufacturing, for example, requires marketing and sales to be comfortable with a lower price point product in their range, as well as logistics assistance to recover cores and operations to strip down and reassemble products. Only the CEO can lead such changes, driving the vision while reassuring all parties and making the necessary trade-offs.
  4. Application of resources. The opportunities presented require professionals in many fields designing technical, operational and tactical solutions, fitting them into business circumstances and de-risking them, supported by external experts as necessary. This cannot be done as additional projects layered on top of already stressed teams.

Companies equipped with this positive mindset are more able to capture the substantial value in profit and sustainability improvements while contributing to the community through the creation of in-country jobs, reducing the balance of payments and improving resource security.


Conversely, companies who are closed to new ideas, adversarial in their relationships, short-term in their outlook and focussed on reducing headcount/spending are expected to be less successful.


Which sort of company is yours?


Written by Greg Lavery, CEO, Levery Pennell

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