How can a blog affect a nations economy? The blogospherre is giving a voice to anyone who has internet connection and a bit of time. Where years ago, your voice was bound to your circle of influence, today the masses truly have a voice of their own.

By collaborating, we can create change. One post will not change the world but an excessive stream of commentary can show just how concerned people are. I’ve personally always had an opinion on something and this blog gives me an outlet. As others share the same desire to make their opinion known, our collaboration could create the ripple needed to evolve into a crushing wave.

Green Collar Manufacturing is about “How Green is Revitalizing America’s Manufacturing Base”. In my opinion, this is an inevitable component to the recovery of the American economy. My opinion has been shaped by conversations with people and reading several books and articles. The faster we get to it, the better.

However, there is the issue of war. America has assumed the role of world police and spends half the world’s military spending. We’re only one country. If we quickly shift our spending to developing more efficient manufacturing and green technology, we supposedly risk security. So it is possible that my progressive blog posts about sustainable business could actually pose a security threat because I promote rapid growth. Ok that’s a little extreme but let’s move on.

An article at Foreign Policy in Focus written by Jonathan Rynn, PhD, who also frequently writes for Grist, brought to light some disturbing figures. Disturbing to me, the guy who lives in America, is very Patriotic, wants his country to get back its economic mojo, reclaim the value of our dollar, be a safe home where people are free to believe in and do whatever they would like as long as it doesn’t impede others human rights, and respect our limited natural resources in the face of extreme population growth. (Exhale)

That being said, Rynn, makes among other things these observations, which I hold true because he says so and I trust his numbers. When you read them, you’ll believe that they are about accurate.

Spain is a global leader in railway and solar development.

Denmark leads in wind.

Germany leads in solar and renewable manufacturing, thanks to big incentives, which reduce every year, and which will eventually give way to free market competition.

Japan produces machinery for manufacturing at about the same level of USA with half the population. They also are railway leaders

Russia, China, Japan, Italy, and Spain are all years ahead of America in high speed train production.

If this was the Olympics, America would be low in the medal count.

European and Japanese companies are apparently the only viable options for building a rail network at several hubs in the US. They “dominate the most fundamental sector of the economy, namely the production of machinery for manufacturing industries in general (often referred to as the mechanical engineering sector).

So I have to force myself to believe that this great country of ours can reclaim the manufacturing base needed to establish economic security in the face of all this. That’s why I need to write at this website, and it’s why we, the people, need to make our voices heard no matter how much it may seem like no one is listening. There are ripples everywhere right now and it will soon become a wave. We are years behind the rest of the world and we have to catch up.

 

 

Donald Trump said, “As long as you’re going to think anyways, THINK BIG.”

At first, Saturn of Indiana’s manufacturing plant didn’t think they could achieve zero landfill status, but by setting the goal and thinking big, they were able to take the neccesary steps to that mark. OK, I know Trump wasn’t refering to zero landfill status when he talked about thinking big, but you get the point.

Industry Week published a few briefs dated July 1 (so I’m assuming the articles are coming out in a to be released paper issue) and it caught my green-manufacturing eye.

I think the tone of the articles are a sign of green becoming commonplace. The magazine describes the necessity of green practices and its benefits while barely even mentioning the planet, or our climate. They just highlight companies that have made efforts to contribute zero waste to landfills: in Subaru of Indiana’s case, done in part by making sure materials are used again and that the byproduct of byproducts are sent for recycling.

Subaru also hired Allegiant Global to help them keep up with their zero waste goals because assafety and environmental compliance manager Denise Coogan, Subaru of Indiana says.

“We’re in the car making business, not the waste management business,” 

“Allegiant finds us places to recycle our material.”

And they do this by doing three primary things:

 

“on-site collection and sorting of recyclable materials,

advice on using recyclable and reusable materials,

and creation of markets for manufacturing byproducts. “

 This is the kind of thing the Green Collar Economy B2B Directory was made for. Finding companies like this that can help you save money and reduce waste.

 

Industry Week also highlights another large corporation, Frito-Lay, which has created their very own Department of Energy, which allowed them to better develop an off grid energy plan.

 

With progression like this, the planet benefits while you, the manufacturer, benefits. The attraction of a green economy is the idea that it could actually create a stronger economy while we making the necessary changes needed to preserve earth.

An important lesson to learn from these stories is that they never thought “zero waste”, or “net zero” would happen at such a large plant or at such a large scale but by taking the right steps in the right direction, it gradually became a reality.

As a general rule, it’s a great idea to aim high. Even if you think zero waste or even carbon neutrality is not possible, aim for it anyways, set a deadline and try to get as close to it as you can. Even if you don’t hit the number you expected, you will be headed in the right direction.

 

I usually don’t comment on stories from Grist here. However, they published an article about a significant transition towards a green economy, so I’m breaking with that tradition today. It has shown a clear identifier of where our priorities are headed and, quite frankly, what makes more business sense.

As many people have heard or read about, General Motors recently closed a Wisconsin plant that produced SUV’s and Pick up trucks.

As many have not heard about, the high speed train industry is the most underfunded part of transportation in America, way behind highway construction.

However, a high speed train network using several hubs across the country is being planned.

At the same time, factories that make gas guzzlers are closing and trucking companies are protesting gas prices.

This transportation shift is a clear example of the ensuing transition to a cleaner, greener economy. This shift will also help manufacturing is a few big ways.

1.       With more high speed rail shipping, to and from Midwest cities and outward, factories will have a cheaper more efficient way to deliver goods.

2.       Trucking companies won’t be relied on for longer distances. They will be able to make more local stops, stay regionalized, and create a better work environment for drivers.

3.        Less trucks means less pollution and it also means less fuel cost to manufacturers looking to ship.

4.       The construction of this project will be immense and the upkeep will employ workers for a long time. Manufacturing of railway material and trains would be extremely difficult to outsource.

5.       The creation of new trains can take advantage of advances in sustainable technology allowing for the materials reused time and again.

Also, the basis of the Grist article is revolved around a quote by Barack Obama,

“the fight for American manufacturing is the fight for America’s future — and I believe that’s a fight this country will win.”

So do I.

First of all, the Electronics Supply and Manufacturing website just summarized the first chapter of the book Green Electronics Design and Manufacturing by Sammy G. Shina. My Cradle to Cradle sumnmaries pale in comparison to this in depth excerpt. It’s more like a brief text book.

It would be a great read for green manufacturing managers who aren’t sure if they need to read the whole book. However, they do provide a link to buy the book (Perhaps I should provide one to Cradle to Cradle).

Second, The Greening of Lean Manufacturing, a press release for McClarin Plastics published by emediawire.com informs readers that McClarin has increased business, kept to their lean principles, become greener, and increased profits.

“We are anxious to share what we’ve learned about eco-responsibility through using Lean principles. Our hope is to get everyone in a supply chain operating on the same page so they too can realize the benefits…We’ve lowered overhead and increased cash flow which we’ve re-invested back into the company.”

 said Roger Kipp, vice president of marketing and engineering for McClarin Plastics in Hanover, PA

It a bit of a controversial story, a Hornell, New York factory has proposed that they switch to a 10 hour per day, four day workweek. This sounds great at the onset. Three day weekends every week; fewer commutes, which will save on gas; and only four days that the factory has to be open, which will save them energy costs as well.

The problem is the overtime availability. You can’t please all of the people all the time and 49 out of 600 people said they would not prefer the four day work week. One reason is that some feel their overtime opportunities will be taken away, and that this is really just the factory avoiding having to pay for that extra cost.

Personally, I think a four day work week is a great idea. It could become even more common in the green economy as businesses look to save on energy and assist their workers with transportation costs. There will be no decision, though, until the factory manager makes an official written proposal and the Union has its say.

Suniva Solar announced the establishment of a factory in the Atlanta area that could bring in 100 new jobs. Made possible by 50 million dollars of second round investing and the expectation of “$10 million in revenues this year and will be profitable next year with $100 million in sales.”

According to earth2tech.com, Georgia beat out several states, who were offering big incentives. I guess the fact that Suniva was founded at Georgia Tech’s Center of Excellence in Photovoltaics gave the state a bit of a home advantage.

  

 

Chemicallygreen.com expanded on the Lieberman Warner bill and gave some interesting points about why it might actually just be congress creating a tax hike in order to create projects in their home states. Initially, I hopped on the ‘Bush is missing the environmental boat again’ bandwagon but it will

“represent the largest tax increase in U.S. History.”

The country is pretty much on hold until a new President is inaugurated so this debate might be just a discussion to get a better sense for what our best options are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waste can be used to add nutrients to the earth. Ever since engineers discovered the efficiency of piping sludge/sewege waste into water streams, we have been discarding that waste (and usually polluting the waters).

 

It could be used in a different way, but there are some problems with the waste stream. One being the liquid chemicals that might also be flushed down the drain, making our waste notably less than 100% organic.

 

Again, in order for our waste streams to truly work, products must be designed for an eventual reincarnation, rather than being sent “away”. If we can develop products that make people feel unique without that implying ‘no one else can use it when I’m done’, we can replenish more of the nutrients we take from the earth, more often, and in a safer way.

 

                   “There is no need for shampoo bottles, toothpaste tubes, yogurt and ice-cream cartons, juice containers, and other packaging to last decades (or even centuries) longer than what came inside them…Worry free packaging could safely decompose, or be gathered and used as fertilizer, bringing nutrients back to the soil.”

 

When looking at creating environmentally sensitive products, the Cradle to Cradle team makes sure they

 

                  “look carefully at the potential long term design legacy”

 

And that is something that all green manufacturers should do when designing a new product or redesigning an old one.

 

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