Green Manufacturing: Understanding the Basics

Just as economic development depends on a strong manufacturing sector, sustainable development depends on green manufacturing. You’ve probably heard the term in the industrial press, or even the mainstream news. But what exactly do we mean by green manufacturing?

The sponsors of the 2008 Green Manufacturing Expo offer this definition. Green manufacturing is:

The creation of manufactured products that use processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources, and are economically sound and safe for employees, communities, and consumers.

In short, green manufacturing entails efforts to reduce waste, limit energy use, and omit pollution from the industry. The environmental benefits are clear, but cleaning up manufacturing processes can also give companies a competitive edge. Here’s what we mean.

Benefits of Implementing Green Manufacturing Procedures

In order to be considered truly sustainable, manufacturing operations must consider a triple bottom line, analysing processes in terms of economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Green manufacturing is that which strives to remove environmental impacts, and is one of the three pillars of a broader picture of sustainable manufacturing, which involves “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

When you apply this triple-bottom-line approach to the industry, it seems that “greening” your operation would only drive success in the environmental category of preferred outcomes. In fact, cleaner manufacturing also impacts social and economic bottom lines.

According to a paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on Materials Processing and Characterisation (ICMPC 2014), there are many economic advantages to investments in greener operations. These include:

  • Positive branding and better customer relationships.
  • Compliance with federal environmental regulations and avoidance of associated fines and fees.
  • Capturing residual value of waste materials through reuse and recycling.
  • Green manufacturing can even reduce production times, reducing the overall cost of the product.

Increasingly, consumers care about the environmental effects of the products they buy. As the authors of that ILCMPC report write, “Nowadays, environmental consequences are considered strategically essential for business operations with the aim to reduce costs and develop quality products.”

Why bother with green manufacturing? For the best reason in business: The market demands it.


“Introduction to Sustainable Manufacturing.” Trade. International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 6 Dec. 2011. PPTX. 12 Mar. 2019.  

Paul, I.D., G.P. Bhole and J.R. Chaudhari. “A Review on Green Manufacturing: Its Importance, Methodology, and Application.ScienceDirect. Procedia Materials Science, 2014. PDF. 12 Mar. 2019.

Silberglitt, Richard et al. “The Global Technology Revolution China, In-Depth Analyses: Emerging Technology Opportunities for the Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA) and the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA).JStor. Rand Corporation, 2009. Web. 12 Mar. 2019.