A Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility for Manufacturers
With the rise in concern for climate change, it’s critical for industrial companies to do their part and contribute to sustainability in manufacturing. Fortunately, your business doesn’t need to spend more or reduce efficiency to become more eco-friendly. In fact, it means quite the opposite.
In the manufacturing industry, corporate social responsibility (CSR) can grow simply by introducing end-of-line packaging solutions in line with any current or future commitments you want to make to help protect the planet’s future. From reducing carbon emissions to recycling old materials to developing new ways to limit environmental harm, you can establish numerous practices to uphold CSR standards.
What Is Corporate Social Responsibility?
CSR is a way for businesses and organizations to regulate and take responsibility for their actions that impact the environment and society. CSR encourages businesses to make a positive contribution to communities, improving the quality of life of employees and consumers. Through various social and environmental measures, companies use CSR as a means to reflect their accountability for other business decisions, such as inclusion, equality, and diversity in the workplace.
There are many ways a company can embrace CSR. However, it must be ingrained into the work culture to be perceived as genuine and go beyond the legal requirements and mandatory regulations. Both consumers and employees value businesses that prioritize CSR and implement sustainable efforts and transparency, such as volunteer projects, charity work, environmental initiatives, and ethical labor practices.
For many businesses, practicing CSR means making a dedicated effort to promote sustainability and act in compliance with environmental, personal health, and safety practices.
Why Should Manufacturers Consider Corporate Social Responsibility?
In addition to complying with state and federal regulations, implementing a CSR policy impacts your business’s performance and profitability from the consumer perspective. Buyers want to support producers and manufacturers that are communicating and following through with commitments to sustainable practices.
Let’s look at some ways CSR can positively impact your business:
CSR fosters a culture of participating in solving environmental and social problems. Playing an active role in these responsibilities can influence the social and economic value of your company and your overall performance. Upholding CSR indicates a good standing for your business within the community and positively impacts your reputation, which can make it easier to perform well and increase your profits.
Additionally, by including your employees in developing ways to maintain CSR, you can create a conducive working atmosphere that brings mutual benefit to your business and society. Focusing your internal organization on economic activities, such as time and energy saving, can greatly influence your business goals and performance.
Public and Internal Relationships
As with business performance, considering and implementing CSR practices within your organization can also positively impact the relationships your business maintains with consumers, employees, and stakeholders. The way your actions regarding sustainability are perceived by these groups can heavily influence your success as a company. Specifically, your manufacturing operations will have a difficult time growing a loyal following if you fail to meet the growing expectations of your company’s role in society.
While your products and services alone give consumers, employees, and investors the opportunity to see you engage in sustainable practices, they’ll also look to your company as a whole and how you uphold their shared values. Research shows that 90% of consumers would purchase from a company that supports a cause they value, while 75% of consumers said they wouldn’t buy from any company that supports anything against their beliefs.
These statistics reflect the strong preference in consumer demand for socially responsible practices from companies, with over 79% of consumers changing their purchases to align with positive environmental impacts. By implementing CSR programs, you improve relationships with the public and those within your organization, creating an emotional connection over shared values and building a positive image. Note that 52% of consumers have a positive association with products or companies they perceive as sustainable and supporting social issues.
Benefits of Practicing Sustainability in Manufacturing
While practicing sustainability and executing CSR programs allows your business to take ownership over its environmental and societal impact, it also has other benefits. Many manufacturers are seeing the financial and workplace advantages of sustainable business practices, such as enhancing employee and product safety.
Here are the most substantial benefits sustainability can provide to increase operational growth and global competitiveness in your company:
1. Operational Efficiency
With sustainable practices, your business can increase its operational efficiency by reducing waste and overall costs. This allows you to focus more on long-term business viability and success through innovation. Using CSR programs and projects, your company can find new ideas that allow you to develop products or improve existing practices to use fewer natural resources.
For example, using controls to limit extra packaging and waste in your manufacturing processes is a simple way to contribute to the health of the environment and save money simultaneously. Integrating these acts of sustainability across your business functions allows you to work toward your own success as a brand.
Making improvements to sustainability is also a collaborative effort that allows your employees to work together to identify areas to implement green practices. This type of collaboration can help cultivate a sense of pride in your company and build a culture that values teamwork, which can lead to more efficient workflows, ideas, and operational improvements.
2. Comply With Regulatory Constraints
It’s critical for companies to address compliance, which includes responsibility for energy efficiency, pollution, and waste management. Enforcing sustainability and CSR practices allows you to respond to regulatory constraints and makes it easier to stay on top of these factors and enhance your performance. Research has shown that investors are hesitant to work with companies that have poor sustainable compliance programs.
These types of programs allow businesses to focus on their highest risks, create more effective functions, and eliminate inefficient activities. While compliance ensures a business will maintain minimum environmental and personal safety requirements, it’ll also help increase efficiency savings. See an overall improvement in your business that goes beyond the minimum effort for compliance through:
- Audit structures
- Scenario planning
- Sustainability control
- Heavier quality-assurance
- Strategic analysis
3. Improve Brand Perception and Sales
Practicing sustainability in manufacturing will help attract new customers and increase overall sales. With sustainable practices in place, you can easily and effectively market your company to consumers. Maintaining a socially conscious image will show consumers, employees, and stakeholders that you prioritize CSR and hold your company accountable for impacting social change through your practices, beliefs, and profits.
This type of image can be critical to your company’s success because the way people perceive your brand will influence their decisions to choose you over competitors. Making improvements to strengthen your environmentally-conscious reputation will entice an entire new base of customers who value sustainability standards, leading to increased sales. With innovative technology and products that allow you to implement green practices, you can publicly promote what buyers want to see.
4. Hiring and Retaining Employees
As with consumers, maintaining sustainable practices further benefits your company by attracting and retaining employees. A CSR program allows you to boost employee engagement by giving them opportunities to get involved in environmental and social causes that matter to them — enhancing their loyalty to your company along the way.
Around 69% of job seekers value businesses with a strong sustainability strategy when looking for work. In fact, many employees in the modern workforce feel that they wouldn’t work for a company that didn’t have a strong stance on personal ethics.
Sustainability Assessments for Manufacturers
Before you can incorporate sustainable practices and CSR programs, it’s critical to examine your processes and facility as a whole to identify what sustainable manufacturing processes can improve in your product life cycle. Within the manufacturing and packing stage, you’ll find four primary categories of sustainability:
The use of energy, often in the manufacturing process, can make it less straightforward to implement CSR in your company. As you know, sustainable manufacturing values products and processes that consume minimum materials and energy.
Fortunately, supply chains can conserve these resources by reducing energy usage across the production, transportation, and distribution sectors. Additionally, your business can deploy practices that improve the community around your facility and generate renewable energy when assessing areas to improve sustainability.
All manufacturers use water for various applications, such as regulating temperatures, cleaning, producing steam, generating power, creating chemical products, and washing equipment. The water you use for these daily tasks can quickly add up, contributing to water overuse and pollution.
Properly recycling your water can help protect the local environment and communities from coming into contact with low-quality or polluted water. Using water testing is a critical aspect of sustainability to ensure the health and integrity of the surrounding ecosystem.
The average water usage across most U.S. industries is about 18.2 billion gallons per day, so conserving water can directly influence the health and safety of the environment.
Industry carbon and greenhouse gas emissions made up over 24% of total emissions in the U.S. in 2020. While it’s essential to set goals to reduce these emissions, it’s just as important to consistently update and revise your existing processes as you track your sustainability.
To help reduce the environmental impacts of your manufacturing processes, it’s imperative to optimize these techniques to produce fewer emissions and develop new processes that allow you to conserve natural resources and fossil fuels where possible. Rising to meet the challenge of decarbonization will put you in the right direction toward sustainability.
Assessing your business’s overall physical waste output and limiting materials that won’t break down over time or can’t be recycled is an effective way to introduce sustainability at all levels of manufacturing — from production to processing to transport. To help reduce your waste, consider different ways you can implement these “R” words into your company:
Using these words as guidelines, you can highlight areas in your manufacturing process that need improvement and keep them in mind when developing new strategies.
Ways to Practice Sustainable Manufacturing
Though understanding and analyzing the benefits of CSR can set your business down the right path, incorporating the necessary steps into your manufacturing company is a different story. Here are some of the top ways you can establish CSR strategies in your business:
1. Audit Energy Use
Energy audits help you understand how much energy you use and how much waste you produce. They also help identify areas for improvement. Using periodic energy audits will help you find savings opportunities regarding air, gas, motors, pumps, steam, heating, packaging, and production processes.
The average cost savings for energy use in most U.S. companies is about $1.4 million. These savings also extend to carbon emissions — the average reduction for carbon emissions is identified as 12,000 metric tons per year. Using energy audits enables you to reduce these related costs and focus on new strategies, such as efficient equipment and machinery, improving your bottom line.
2. Report Progress
Reporting your progress on developing sustainable efforts will promote transparency in your company, something the public will appreciate. Your company can use Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards to publish reports on your contributions to sustainable development.
The GRI sustainability reporting guidelines offer tools to prepare these reports and allow you to document risks and strategies and provide insight to customers, employees, and investors. Reporting your progress and performance empowers your company to understand public expectations of CSR and compare your metrics to competitors’ to help you improve your efforts.
3. Designing Products Sustainably
Implementing sustainability in manufacturing extends to your products and packaging, which you can design to be compact, compostable, dismantlable, or recyclable. Designing products with sustainability in mind will enhance the longevity of your products and allow you to get the maximum use out of your materials.
Making your products and packaging practical, optimized, easy to maintain, durable, and reusable will allow you to contribute to a circular economy. These sustainable decisions, including enhanced automation, reparability, and deconstruction, will positively impact the product lifecycle.
4. Using Recycled or Recyclable Materials
Another way to practice sustainability is to aim for closed-loop production during the creation or processing of manufactured products. The closed-loop industry includes:
- Sustainable manufacturing
- Optimization of production methods and processes
- Recycling discarded materials and resources
- Designing products for remanufacturing
An example of using recyclable materials is plastic strapping. This material has various packaging applications, such as bundling, tote security, and carton closing, for transfer and shipment. Its high strength, elasticity, and moisture-resistant properties ensure its effectiveness in different temperatures.
Plastic strapping can also be used in manufacturing for limited outdoor storage and has many benefits over steel in the vein of producing and reusing that make it a highly sustainable packaging choice, including:
- Safer to use with softer edges and less snap-back during removal
- Shock-absorbing abilities
- Less damaging to product edges
- Eliminates rust marks
- Easier to handle with longer, lighter weight coils
- Less wearing on application machinery
EAM-Mosca Provides Packaging Solutions for Sustainability-Minded Manufacturers
The benefits of plastic-based strapping for end-of-line manufacturing will help you take a step in the right direction toward sustainability. Plastic strapping is a closing and securing solution that offers tamper evidence and embossing for consistent and reliable strap and seal strength, preventing your stock from shifting during transportation.
With consistent break strength, width, and tension, EAM-Mosca’s strapping machines provide immediate increased efficiency, sustainable energy use, and recyclability. Contact the experts at EAM-Mosca for a quote and learn how we provide excellence in strapping solutions.