What can we do as manufacturers to become part of the evolving process and create solutions?
Sustainability has many different meanings in today’s modern world; from our food at the grocery store to creating renewable energy sources, it has become an essential part of everyday conversation. Although not a new concept, sustainable manufacturing plays a significant role in reducing our environmental impact.
What is sustainable manufacturing, and what can we do as manufacturers to become part of the evolving process and create solutions?
Sustainable manufacturing is “creating manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources.” (US EPA, December 2020). At Inova, sustainability is considered from the beginning processes of material selection to environmentally friendly shipping options when it leaves to our customers.
The following examples are for any manufacturing facility looking to be more sustainable.
#1 Reduce Emissions
Emissions are the gases and particles which are put into the air or emitted by various sources like cars, trucks, and airplanes. Reducing our emissions is important for improving air quality, create economic growth, and slow climate change. Starting from the inside out, Inova beds and selected finishes meet strict requirements for formaldehyde emissions. Our core materials and our laminate finishes meet the requirements for CARB ATCM 93120 set by California Air Resources Board. We also offer the options of FSC COC, FSC-Certified / LEED credit Certified Wood for our cores and finishes.
Our supply chain consists of certified and trusted vendors. We have three vendors located in our same industrial park that supply ninety percent of our core materials. Tafisa, the manufacturer of our laminate, is located in Quebec, Canada, under a 6-hour drive away, and our metal fabrication vendor is less than 20 miles from our factory.
#2 The three “R’s.”
Three common phrases we use at Inova: recycling, reusing, and repurposing! As a manufacturer, this doesn’t have to be complicated. We all begin with our specific material and turn it into something else. When choosing such materials, be selective! Find materials that work with your budget, meets your specifications, and improves sustainability. Our laminate finishes, supplied by Tafisa Tafipan, are manufactured using 100% recovered and recycled wood materials. Our upholstery fabrics, provided by Mayer Fabrics for our Sofa-WallBeds and Sofa-WallBed Sectional, are GreenGuard Certified.
With your suppliers vetted, now figure out how to maximize your material use and minimize waste. When you do, you are essentially repurposing, recycling, and reusing materials! At Inova, we use our fall-off materials from previously cut sheets of material (typically waste) in our beds as “utility parts,” and any remaining metal is gathered and recycled. Our engineering team uses large leftover materials during the early prototyping stages of a product design. Ensuring no opportunity is missed, we have recycling stations located throughout our building, including offices and break rooms.
#3 Small actions, significant results
Our 72,000 SF factory is lit exclusively with LED Lighting. Automatic lights and smart thermostats are installed around our office to conserve energy. In addition to our internal practices, we work with local vendors to repurpose shipping pallets that would otherwise be placed in the dumpster once delivery and distribution were complete.
#4 Packing and Shipping
Next, examine your packaging and dial in the amount needed per product. Look for the minor improvements first and build on them. For example, does that product require five rotations of plastic wrap? Or is four and maybe even three times sufficient? Once you have done your assessment, create an internal standard for all to follow and look for continual ways to improve and reduce the material over time. To reduce our environmental impact through our packaging and shipping at Inova, we eliminated any Styrofoam in our packing, and we practice bulk packing for larger orders. Bulk-packing allows us to pack like materials (ex. All bed panels) and stack on pallets to reduce shipping materials, costs, and emissions from transportation.
We know that everyday decisions can lead to long-term success for our future, our employees and consumers, and most importantly, our environment. As the world keeps changing, it is important to us at Inova to continue improving our practices and putting our best product forward with the environment in mind.
For more detailed information on our products, methods, and partners, please visit our website at https://inovabed.com/sustainability.
To learn more about the California Air Resources Board and the LEED standards, please visit https://www.usgbc.org/.