We all know that being a business owner is beyond time consuming. Making decisions to move your business forward, managing people, looking for customers, “can I please have an extra day in the week to do all this”? Why would you possibly want to burden yourself or your staff with finding a way to close the consumption circle at your business? What are the benefits?
First, let’s define some terms as they relate to manufacturing.
Waste—materials that you have left over from manufacturing.
Upcycle— reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original. Ex: turning moth eaten, cashmere sweaters into a coat by cutting and recombining them.
Repurposed—using something for a different purpose than that for which it was intended, altering it superficially in the process. Ex: creating pillows from the leather of a used couch.
Recycled— convert (waste) into reusable material, breaking it down and altering its form during the process. Ex: shredding discarded textiles to produce stuffing for quilted boots.
Closing the consumption circle means taking all of the materials that are not used in the products you manufacture, (the waste), and either up-cycling, re-purposing or recycling it so that nothing ends up in the waste stream on its way to a landfill.
Here are three ways to close the consumption circle at your business and some of the benefits each method offers.
- Invest in hardware, software, or training that reduces the amount of materials and fuel used to manufacture your products. (part of Lean manufacturing) Benefit? Saves time and money! On top of that your company is showered with good vibes from environmentally aware customers because you are reducing your environmental impact.
- Find a vendor to pick up your unused materials. Benefit? Saves your resources—time, money, manpower, storage space! You can also make money by selling your waste.
- Institute processes that use your own waste to manufacture products that may or may not be related to manufacturing your core product. Benefit? Make money both by selling your products and by not allowing materials you have already paid for to be written off as a loss.
These paths obviously mean an initial investment in planning, time, money, effort and changing attitudes. In return, your company receives the benefits mentioned above as well as public praise, and PR opportunities which attract new customers. Make a better world for your kids and grand kids! Close your company consumption circle!