A Green Manufacturing Renaissance: Bringing Jobs Back Home

Most manufacturing CEOs are concerned about being good corporate citizens. According to a survey of CEOs by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, 87 percent say it’s important for their companies to reduce their environmental footprint.

No manufacturer can afford to ignore the pressing environmental issues of today. To do so puts both their profit line and their legacy at risk. A green manufacturing renaissance is the renewal of production processes and the establishment of environmentally friendly operations within the manufacturing field to use fewer natural resources, reduce pollution and waste, recycle and reuse materials, and moderate emissions in their processes and products.

Offshoring Jobs

During the past four decades as companies looked to improve their economic performance and reduce labor costs many jobs were moved offshore. According to the 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, global annual carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 20% since the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The Asia Pacific region saw carbon dioxide emissions increase by 50% since 2005, while emissions in the U.S. declined.

Companies shifting production offshore, especially to China have negatively affected the environment. China has become the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide by far, growing emissions at a breakneck pace. Offshoring’s impact on the world environment has been significant through higher carbon emissions and other pollution from developing countries and from long-distance transport. Companies increase pollution by offshoring production to developing, less regulated countries and then importing those products back into the U.S.

Reshoring or Near Shoring Jobs

Companies who were once offshoring production to take advantage of lower wages had failed to recognize the microeconomic, macroeconomic and environmental costs by understanding the total cost of offshoring.

Now with the passage of the new USMCA | United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement companies can make a significant impact on the economic and ecological model for North America. North American companies can reduce the cost and environmental impact of electricity generation, industrial production and goods transport by reshoring or near-shoring production.

Now that companies are analyzing the total cost of ownership (TCO), they can make better decisions for the environment, society and corporate performance by accounting for all costs associated with the product. By using the Reshoring Initiative TCO analysis, manufacturers can factor in sustainability objectives and minimize environmental impacts. The Reshoring Initiative has also developed the CSRE (Corporate Social Responsibility Estimator), a tool to help companies quantify the environmental impact of offshore vs. domestic sourcing. In a first test, CSRE showed that shifting production of an aluminum diecasting from China to the U.S. cut the environmental impact by close to 50%. Contact info@reshorenow.org to learn more.

TCO will now enable companies to identify products for which reshoring will provide major environmental benefits while maximizing shareholder returns. Shifting to a local-for-local business model will reduce CO2 levels and achieve higher environmental standards sooner.

Green Manufacturing Jobs

Over 70 percent of Americans today view manufacturing as the most important industry. It stands at the center of our country’s success and contributes to many job opportunities. Therefore, it is crucial for everyone to learn about the latest technologies, trends, and practices within the field of advanced manufacturing.

Green manufacturing jobs require a strong core skillset and an added layer of lean and green knowledge. Now, more than ever, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills — at all levels, are needed for workers and their companies to be competitive in the new green advanced manufacturing economy.

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Glenn Marshall, Newport News Shipbuilding Career Pathways (retired), is on the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) Management Team initiative for leading a “Manufacturing Renaissance” and a member of the Job Creators Network . For more information email marsh8279@aol.com.

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