ployment in many companies right now,
are expected to increase markedly in significance by the end of 2022. While only
6% of respondents see these technologies
as significant today, this rises to 29% of respondents expecting them to have a significant impact in the next five years.
That future progress can only be made, however, if companies pro- vide the right support and cultural
climate to foster further sustainable trans-
formation. And there are certainly many
challenges that remain.
Almost a third of survey respondents
(31%), for example, indicate that the biggest
barrier they face right now to increasing sus-
tainability progress in their manufacturing
and production activities continues to be a
lack of corporate budgets to fund more sus-
tainable production approaches. Close to a
fifth also highlighted a lack of departmental
accountability or incentives for sustainabil-
ity improvement (Chart 10).
Given the demonstrable value from man-
ufacturing sustainability initiatives such as
efficiency improvements, cost reductions,
and resource maximization, these remain-
ing barriers to progress seem like false econ-
omies in the longer term.
Even sudden reversals of political com-
mitment seem unlikely to halt continued
sustainability progress across the manu-
facturing community. Despite the recent
high-profile withdrawal of the U.S. from the
Paris Climate deal by the Trump Adminis-
tration, ostensibly on the grounds that it was
not considered a “fair deal” for the U.S., the
move is likely to have only a minor impact
on the future of sustainability initiatives in
most manufacturing companies.
The vast majority of survey respondents
................... ................... ................... ................... ................... ................... ...................
tinues to be a
lack of corpo-
to fund more
(71%) believe this Trump decision will have
“no impact” on their company’s approach
to sustainability whatsoever. Six percent
even feel it may help “accelerate” their efforts (Chart 11).
Towards a Circular Economy
Combining many of these under- lying trends and goals together – efficiency improvements, cost
reductions, better waste control, material
use and reuse, product end-of-life strate-
gies, and the unprecedented analytical vis-
ibility provided by new digital technologies
across the value chain – the ultimate prom-
ise seen by many proponents of improving
manufacturing sustainability is not just
company- wide, but industry-wide.
The concept of a more regenerative and
circular industrial global economy – where
the traditionally linear “Make, Take, Dis-
pose” approach of manufacturing in the
past is replaced by a more sustainable
“Refurbish, Reuse, Recycle” approach
that maximizes all resources throughout
the full lifecycle of products – seems to be
swiftly gaining acceptance as a future in-
Sixty-five percent of survey respondents
classified such a circular industrial econ-
omy model as either “Very Important” or
“Fairly Important” to the future of manu-
facturing (Chart 12).
There’s clearly a long way to go yet, but
perhaps this suggests that we’re still only at
the beginning of the true pursuit of manu-
facturing sustainability as an industrial force.
With the help of new digital analytical
and production technologies, and more
enlightened value-focused support and
funding for corporate sustainability initiatives at all levels, it’s nevertheless a goal that
seems increasingly possible. M