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Sustainable Manufacturing Processes

The ever-increasing cost of resources and the threat of adverse environmental impacts indicate that the time for sustainable manufacturing processes to emerge is now. A proposed new ASTM International standard will help industry adopt more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices by informing manufacturers how they can incorporate sustainability into their daily operations.

WK35702, Guide for Evaluation of Environmental Aspects of Sustainability of Manufacturing Processes, describes methods to enhance resource efficiency, considering environmental impacts, at the manufacturing process level.

“WK35702 will help identify opportunities in operations planning, provide guidelines for collecting data and give insight into how to calculate metrics on which informed decisions can be made,” says ASTM member Paul Witherell, mechanical engineer, National Institute of Standards and Technology.

“The public has become increasingly aware, and mindful, of sustainability practices,” says Witherell. “More and more consumers are making purchasing decisions based on how well a product manufacturer is able to adopt more sustainable practices. WK35702 will be a step toward enabling manufacturers to educate their customers to be more informed about how well such products are manufactured, should they so choose.”

Witherell notes that primary users of WK35702, once it has been approved, will be small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to implement more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices into their production line.

“While other documents may discuss sustainability in generalities, there is currently no standard to provide SMEs with technical and measurement guidelines on implementing sustainable manufacturing practices into their process decisions,” says Witherell. “These SMEs do not always have access to the tools and in-house expertise that larger corporations have.” This proposed standard will help such entities evaluate their own practices and provide them with information on which decisions can be made.

WK35702 is being developed by Subcommittee E60.13 on Sustainable Manufacturing, part of ASTM International E60 on Sustainability. The subcommittee invites participation in the development of WK35702 and other proposed standards, including the following:

  • WK35703, Terminology for Sustainable Manufacturing;
  • WK35705, Guide for Sustainability Characterization of Manufacturing Processes; and
  • WK38312, Classification for Waste Generated at Manufacturing Facilities and Associated Claims.

CONTACT Technical Information: Paul Witherell, National Institute of Standards and Technology • Gaithersburg, Md. • Phone: 301-975-3385 | ASTM Staff: Stephen Mawn • Phone: 610-832-9726 | Upcoming Meeting: Oct. 7-9 • October Committee Week • New Orleans, La.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.