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Nature Provides Recipe For Sustainable Manufacturing

patagonia_recycling.jpgBy studying the Earth’s biosphere, managers can learn how to build ecologically friendly products that reduce manufacturing costs, Gregory Unruh writes in the Dallas Morning News.

To make recycling easier, manufacturers should think fewer materials, rethink sourcing strategies and simplify the number and types of materials used in production – nature uses carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen to produce all living things, according to Unruh.

Managers should plan at the beginning of design for the end of their product’s useful life. When an organism dies, the biosphere recovers its materials and reinserts them into its production processes, Unruh writes. Up-cycling maintains the value of materials without loss of quality or performance.

Unruh says that a parsimonious materials palette and a virtuous recycling process can establish sustainable platforms for entire product lines. The design of the earliest multicelled organisms is a platform that has been leveraged over and over again.

Unruh points to Shaw Industries, Patagonia, and Herman Miller as three examples of companies that have embraced sustainable manufacturing principles.

for another angle on turning to nature for inspiration, Biomimicry, design inspired by nature, is becoming a core sustainability strategy for companies looking for ways to cut their ecological footprints.

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