Sustainable Manufacturing

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Sustainable manufacturing has become an ongoing topic of discussion across a wide range of industries. Consisting of processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and other natural resources, sustainable manufacturing also incorporates economically sound processes that are safe for employees, communities and consumers.

To facilitate the development and use of sustainable manufacturing processes., ASTM International’s Committee E60 on Sustainability has created a new subcommittee, E60.13 on Sustainable Manufacturing. The new group will hold its first meeting during Committee E60’s October 2012 meeting in Atlanta, Ga.

According to Amy Costello, environmental sustainability manager, Armstrong World Industries, and E60.13 chairman, Subcommittee E60.13 evolved out of a presentation on the nature of sustainable manufacturing given by representatives of the National Institute of Standards and Technology during the April 2012 E60 committee meeting. The purpose of the presentation was to discuss the need for sustainable manufacturing standards and E60’s potential role in developing those standards.

“As manufacturers embark on the journey of benchmarking and developing sustainability metrics, they will quickly realize that they are in uncharted territory,” says Costello. “While there are many sources of information about sustainable manufacturing, few standards exist.”

Costello notes that the subcommittee will develop standards that manufacturers can use to benchmark, assess, act on and communicate sustainability metrics, including standards for evaluating, improving and measuring gate-to-gate processes in the production of finished goods.

The following proposed new standards will be the first to be developed by new Subcommittee E60.13:

  • WK35702, Practice for Materials and Energy Information Modeling for Sustainable Products;
  • WK35703, Terminology for Sustainable Manufacturing;
  • WK35705, Guide for Sustainability Improvement of Manufacturing Processes; and
  • WK38312, Specification for the Classification of Manufacturing Wastes and Associated Claims.

Costello says that the standards will play an important role in helping manufacturers communicate the sustainability of their processes and increase consumer confidence in manufacturer claims.

“For example,” Costello says, “is Company A’s claim to be a net-zero waste facility the same as Company B’s claim? How is waste determined within a manufacturing facility? Is it just the material that you send to the landfill or do you count material that is incinerated too? Standardizing this type of basic language and creating standards to evaluate and measure processes will help both manufacturers and consumers.”

The next meeting of Subcommittee E60.13 will be held during the April 2013 E60 meetings, April 16-18, 2013, in Indianapolis, Ind.

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