Green Products Manufacturers

More people are seeking out green products because of heightened awareness of environmental issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, overflowing landfills, and pollution. As a result, more manufacturers are turning their businesses into sustainable businesses. Green products manufacturers are concerned about the impact that manufacturing production processes, and use of the products themselves, have on the environment. To tackle this problem, many are transforming recyclable materials into products that won't negatively affect the earth. They are also creating products that use water and energy more efficiently, such as low-flow toilets, solar panels, and hybrid cars.

Manufacturing is the process of turning raw materials into usable products. Depending on the scale and scope of the business, manufacturing can be done by hand or by machine. The main areas manufacturing covers include food; textiles, clothing, and footwear; metals; printing and paper; furniture and cabinet making; machinery and equipment; and petroleum, coal, chemical, and related products. Green products can be made from recycled or reused materials such as glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles and milk jugs, yogurt containers, aluminum and tin cans, bottle caps, newspapers and magazines, cardboard boxes and containers, blue jeans, and even old car tires.

One example of a manufacturing company concerned about the environment is Homasote, a New Jersey-based manufacturer of building products made from recycled materials. According to its Web site (http://www.homasote.com), the company's manufacturing process recycles up to 100 tons of recycled cellulose fiber each day, and helps conserve more than 1,370,000 trees and eliminates more than 100 million pounds of waste that would otherwise be in landfills each production year. Homasote also recycles all of the water it uses to manufacture its products.

The Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) plant (http://www.subaru-sia.com), located in Lafayette, is another example of a manufacturing company that is actively working to reduce its imprint on the environment. It recycles and reuses 97 percent of its refuse, and it boxes and ships the remaining 3 percent to the city of Indianapolis, where the refuse is incinerated to help generate steam. As a result, nothing is sent to landfills, which is why SIA achieved a "zero landfill" status. To help people understand how dramatic this business practice is, SIA's Web site states: "When you carry out the trash on the next collection day, you're sending more to landfills than does the SIA plant in Lafayette." Types of things SIA is recycling and/or reusing include: brass lug nuts (previously, 33,000 pounds of brass was thrown away each year); paint sludge, which is dried into powder, then shipped to plastics manufacturers to reuse for guardrails and parking-lot bumpers; and solvents, which are cleaned and reused in paints.

The types of jobs involved in manufacturing include product designer, manufacturing production manager, assembler and fabricator, quality control inspector, and manufacturing sales representative.

Product designers focus on style, function, quality, and safety when they design products. They usually specialize in one area, such as cars, appliances, housewares, toys, technology goods, or pharmaceuticals. They create designs by hand and with computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided industrial design (CAID) software. They make sure the design meets company specifications.

Manufacturing production managers oversee one area of the manufacturing process if the plant is a large operation; if it's a small business, they may be responsible for managing the entire plant. Managers plan, direct, and coordinate the production process. They create the plan for the work, deciding on the sequence of work, the staff and machines needed, and the production schedule. They work closely with other departments to make sure budgets are adhered to, deadlines and goals are met, and company policies are followed.

Assemblers and fabricators use tools, machines, and their hands to put products together. They assemble automobiles, airplanes, household appliances, computers, electronic devices, and more. Their work may be easy, or it may be complex, requiring them to closely read and follow schematics and blueprints.

Quality control inspectors inspect products to make sure they meet specific standards. The nature of their work depends on the types of products they inspect. For example, materials inspectors will check products by sight, smell, sound, feel, and even taste. They look for imperfections such as scratches, cuts, bubbles, missing parts, and stitching and seam errors. They may also check measurements and make sure products operate correctly.

Sales representatives promote products to wholesale and retail buyers and purchasing agents. They demonstrate their products to prospective clients, explaining how they can reduce costs and drive up sales, and address questions and concerns.

Other jobs in manufacturing include cost estimators, who compile data on all the factors that can impact costs involved in manufacturing a product; production clerks, who help with the flow of information, work, and materials among manufacturing offices; and precision machinists, who use machines to create parts for products.

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