Exploring sustainable manufacturing principles and practices
Abstract: The manufacturing industry remains a critical force in the quest for global sustainability. An increasing number of companies are modifying their operations in favor of more sustainable practices. It is hugely important that manufacturers, irrespective of the subsector they belong to, or their organizational size, implement practices that reduce or eliminate negative environmental, social and economic impacts generated by their manufacturing operations.Consequently, scholars have called for additional studies concerning sustainable manufacturing practices, not only to address the paucity of related literature, but also to contribute to practitioners’ understanding of how to incorporate sustainability into their operations. However, apart from expanding the knowledge of sustainable manufacturing practices, it is first key to understand the ground set of values, or principles, behind sustainable manufacturing operations. For that reason, the purpose of this thesis is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge regarding sustainable manufacturing principles and practices.The results presented in this thesis are based on three studies: a systematic literature review exploring sustainability principles applicable to manufacturing settings, and two empirical studies addressing sustainable manufacturing practices.In general, it is concluded from the literature that there is a little knowledge about sustainability principles from a manufacturing perspective. In relation to the most common sustainable manufacturing practices, it is concluded that these practices mainly refer to energy and material management, and waste management. Similarly, the study of the adherence of sustainable manufacturing practices to sustainable production principles concluded that the principles concerning energy and materials conservation, and waste management were found to create the highest number of practices. Although most manufacturers still engage in reactive sustainable manufacturing practices driven by regulatory and market pressures, some industrial sectors were found to be more prone to develop proactive sustainable manufacturing strategies than others. Furthermore, SMEs were found to lag behind large organizations regarding adherence to sustainable manufacturing principles.
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