The interaction between production and the environment
All companies use natural resources and are directly affected by environmental issues.
Regardless of the end product, companies’ production units need metal, raw materials, fuel, energy, water and surface area on the ground to establish themselves. The production process also entails the release into the environment of gases or residuals. All SMEs must face the issues of resource management and sustainable development.
The life cycle of a product is made up of three separate phases:
- Consumption of raw materials
- Production, including the stages of converting raw materials into end products
- The end product, which will be used regularly, then recycled or destroyed at the end of its life
There is a series of indicators for each of these stages which SMEs can act on to improve their environmental performance:
Sustainable production does not simply involve reducing your environmental impact, but also taking the company’s requirements into account and being economically responsible. The creation of manufactured products should therefore, as far as possible, involve the use of natural resources, energy and processes which are safe for production staff.
The three dimensions of sustainable production
“Sustainable production” is therefore structured around three points:
- The environment. Efficient use of resources and energy, use of materials and energy sources that are respectful of the environment, protection of biodiversity, limitation of residuals and emissions, limitation of use of hazardous substances.
- Society. Compliance with the law, human rights, good community relations, good working conditions, respect for suppliers and product safety.
- The economy. Prevention of corruption, investment in infrastructure, creation of jobs, contribution to the local economy, creation of income and profit, payment of taxes in a responsible way, innovation.
Source: OECD guidelines on sustainable production