It’s fair to say that as global concern around sustainability and resource utilisation continues to grow, more businesses are re-examining their manufacturing and production processes to see where they can make them greener - and more efficient. It’s also fair to say that while many businesses talk the talk in that regard, comparatively few are willing to make the changes required to walk the walk.
Autex has been walking the path of waste reduction for a number of years now, developing innovative new processes to ensure the waste created in production and manufacturing is reused and turned back into a viable product.
‘The manufacturing process is predominantly driven by quality, which results in rejection of inferior products and materials,’ says Aidan Hill, Autex’s Group Technical & Sustainability Manager. ‘We’ve strived to create a manufacturing process which minimises product rejection, produces high-quality product, and recovers that rejected material for reuse.’
Autex’s manufacturing process creates roughly 200,000-300,000 kgs of waste materials in the form of trims and cuts each year. The company aims to recover as much of those materials as possible and establish all production lines as zero-waste lines, as well as repurposing recovered materials as resources for manufacturing units and other potential users for further processing.
Autex is structuring the process with pillars relating to the three Rs - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
‘Reducing waste is the most important thing we can do,’ says Aidan. ‘By reducing waste, we avoid the unnecessary use of resources such as raw materials, energy and water - meaning there’s less waste to manage.’ Autex achieves this by carefully monitoring the production process and minimising the size of trims and cuts.
‘We also understand and accept that some form of waste is unavoidable in the manufacturing process,’ says Aidan of the Reuse pillar. ‘Therefore, we choose recovery and recycling of materials as our next step in the process. To recycle waste material, recovery and shredding units are attached to our manufacturing lines. These units re-process the material so that it can be fed into the beginning of our manufacturing lines again. Each year we turn 194,800 kgs of waste trimmings into new products and 38,000 kg of waste trimmings is reused by other local manufacturers. Those trimmings that cannot be used in Autex's own production and are reused by other manufacturers, are repurposed into PET fibres. The core focus of Autex’s Recycle pillar, those 38,000 kgs of waste trimmings amount to an equivalent of diverting almost 26 million 500ml PET water bottles from landfill each year.
By putting this structured sustainability focus at the core of their manufacturing and production operations, Autex is building processes that are not only environmentally friendly, but financially viable. As the business continues its move towards zero-waste operations it seems certain that this drive towards greater material efficiency will only become further entrenched within the organisation - which will undoubtedly have an overwhelmingly positive effect on company, clients and climate alike.
Find out more from Autex Acoustics here.