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Sustainable Manufacturing Tour

July 15, 2009

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Acting U.S. Commerce Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services Mary Saunders is leading a tour of four Seattle-area manufacturing facilities as part of the department’s Sustainability 360 initiative. The tour, Sustainability 360: An Aerospace Supply Chain Event, is designed to showcase the benefits of sustainable manufacturing throughout an aerospace manufacturing supply chain.

Sustainability 360

We just concluded our first Sustainability 360 event here in Seattle and the experience was outstanding – lots of good practical examples of how implementing sustainable manufacturing practices can reduce environmental impact and improve the bottom line for businesses.  Sustainability 360 is what we are calling our regional tours of manufacturing facilities operating at various points in the supply chain, in this case the aerospace supply chain.  Our sustainable manufacturing and aerospace teams in Manufacturing and Services worked with the U.S.  Export Assistance Center and Washington Manufacturing Services, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center in the area, to put together a tour of four companies who are at various stages in their sustainability journey, to share their lessons learned and best practices with other local companies.

Participants visiting the new facility of Tyee Aircraft, a producer of aerospace components.  Tyee has incorporated sustainable principles into its lean manufacturing practices with zero waste water release, energy efficient lighting, and recycling programs.

Participants visiting the new facility of Tyee Aircraft, a producer of aerospace components. Tyee has incorporated sustainable principles into its lean manufacturing practices with zero waste water release, energy efficient lighting, and recycling programs. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo.)

We toured Puget Sound Energy, Tyee Aircraft, Goodrich Aerostructures and The Boeing Company, along with 24 local company representatives.  And we learned a tremendous amount.  For instances, successful companies are those that are “purpose driven”, with management and employees working toward a common goal.  Sustainability takes into account the interest of the company itself in becoming more competitive; as well as the interests of investors, suppliers, customers and the community in which it operates.  Ideas for improving sustainability can come from anyone in the company and even from suppliers and customers.  There are no bad ideas.  Sustainable Manufacturing practices save money and help grow business.

I have toured factory floors before, but I have never seen this much energy and enthusiasm, in companies ranging in size from a little more than a 100 employees to several thousand.  Today’s program reinforced the practical value of the departments’ Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative and the value of public-private partnership in advancing the competitiveness of U. S. industry.  What a hands on- way to spread the message to U.S. manufactures nationwide that sustainable manufacturing practices can deliver triple-win solutions that benefit U. S. firms, the communities in which they operate and the environment.

Mary Saunders giving her opening remarks for the Sustainability 360 event at utility Puget Sound Energy. PSE's 2008 energy efficiency work will result in annual savings for its customers of $30 million a year.

Mary Saunders giving her opening remarks for the Sustainability 360 event at utility Puget Sound Energy. PSE’s 2008 energy efficiency work will result in annual savings for its customers of $30 million a year. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo.)

Sustainable manufacturing is an area where the U.S. maintains a global competitive advantage.  Not only are we the largest producer of clean technologies globally, we are also a leader in creating cutting edge, lean and clean manufacturing practices throughout industry  supply chains.  I am looking forward to our continued work in helping to spread the sustainable manufacturing message nationwide.  For information on this initiative and its three components, take a look at http://www.manufacturing.gov/sustainability.  Let us know what you think.

One comment

  1. Not so sure about the title “we are the largest producer of clean technologies globally” – personally I think it is polititians speak of all talk and no substance. The US is one of the worlds highest polluters and a large reason why the ozone layer is so vulnerable – although I would not expect you to agree with me, even if you wanted to.



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