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How can Industries enable Sustainable Manufacturing in India?

By Ankush Patel, Founder & CEO, Treeni Sustainability Solutions,

Added 24 January 2022

The manufacturing sector in India has been one of the highest growth sectors and a major contributor to GDP growth.

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The manufacturing sector in India has been one of the highest growth sectors and a major contributor to GDP growth. From large-scale companies in manufacturing to MSME’s and MNC’s have been a significant contribution to the growth within this sector. Furthermore, the programs initiated by the Government of India like “Make in India” and “Vocal for Local” is focused on increasing the GDP contribution of the manufacturing sector by the year 2022, by almost 22 per cent.

The Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi, is aiming to place India on the world map as a manufacturing hub through these initiatives in the post COVID era. As per a survey conducted by the (FICCI) Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, during the second quarter of FY22, the capacity utilization in India’s manufacturing sector stood at 72 per cent, showing a significant recovery in revenue. Today, India is recognised as the leading nation for investors looking to invest within the manufacturing sector.

Given the rapid growth of this sector, there have also been raising concerns to understand the role manufacturing industries play in environmental endangerment in terms of noise, soil, air, and water pollution and other environmental hazards. There has been a continuous rise in the pollution levels within the country which can be directly linked to the manufacturing sectors as the core contributors, despite the strict policies and pollution control guidelines implemented by the government for ecosystem conservation.

According to a recent report by SoE (The State of India’s Environment), 2019, the number of GPI (Grossly Polluting Industries) has increased by 136 per cent, across India from 2011 to 2018. However, there is an overall push towards encouraging a green economy, and international governments have started focusing on adopting greener and sustainable practices within their respective countries. Hopefully, this will also encourage entrepreneurs to adopt sustainable business practices within their businesses. Here are a few sustainability practices that can be adopted in the manufacturing sector

  • Adopting Lean and Green Measures – When thinking about greener practices, switching to solar energy is the most efficient alternative for industries. Initially, step one is an energy audit which is required to identify consumption patterns and wastage that will help to understand the daily and monthly requirements of energy. Heavy-duty machinery functions can be carried on with a regular electricity source while functions like heating, lighting, and cooling, can be switched to solar. This will help in reducing costs and will ensure minimizing the Global carbon footprint and increase the efficiency of business operations.
  • Optimized Energy and Raw Materials – One of the core processes for profitable manufacturing is optimizing resources which includes machinery, raw materials, and natural resources like fuel, water, etc. When sourced at reasonable quality and cost will help to ensure a consistent output. Apart from these, manufacturers also need to focus on the ‘Green’ quotient while purchasing, to make informed decisions and choices. Furthermore, optimized usage of steam/water or other natural resources, either by optimizing the production process or by recycling them in-house for re-use will help to cut down massive use of resources.
  • Leverage Smart Technology – In the era of Industry 4.0, the new standard is to optimize processes by leveraging smart technology. Manufacturers have adopted digital-first ways of working to make their operations future-ready by integrating best-in-class digital solutions, building efficiencies, and optimizing costs and raw material consumption in the mission. Adopting greener manufacturing processes will help to reduce the harmful effects of the pollution-generating process on employees. The harmful hazards can be controlled and the exposure can be managed by leveraging Machine Learning and Robotics/AI.
  • Packaging: It is one of the major contributors to waste generated through manufacturing processes and industry. Non-degradable waste like the use of synthetic/plastic material has caused an alarming rise in Global pollution rate. Replacing the use of plastic for small and bulk transport with recycled and natural materials like bamboo, hemp, cardboard, paper, etc will help to reduce environmental impact drastically.
  • Waste Treatment and Recycling: If manufacturers start taking responsibility for the waste generated and impose recycling of waste matter as a vital part of all processes, the final output will be a lot more green-efficient and environmentally friendly. Most of the industries that fall under the GPI category are observed to flout pollution norms by releasing toxic waste into the surroundings. One of the prominent aspects of green manufacturing is recycling and waste treatment which holds huge potential on the entire supply chain and operations, creating a sustainable impact.

India’s urbanisation coupled with rapid industrial and economic growth has resulted in rising demand for natural resources, an increase in waste generation, and carbon emission. India’s manufacturing sector needs to adopt sustainable manufacturing aggressively to overcome these challenges and minimize their impact.

There are several decisive factors like ensuring a cleaner environment, conservation of natural resources, better public health, smarter and efficient business processes within the manufacturing sector that will help India to become an international manufacturing hub.

Industrial growth cannot be implemented if policies and procedures aren’t imposed for holistic development through eco-friendly practices that focus on total economic growth to achieve long term goals for India’s development. 

While there are a few start-ups and other early adopters, the sector needs more and more manufacturers to embark on this journey towards sustainability and develop comprehensive plans to achieve them

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