John Chalifoux, president of MERA - The Association for Sustainable Manufacturing, urges reman players to shout about the green benefits of their businesses.
MERA and its members are always looking for opportunities to raise awareness and acceptance of remanufactured goods. Improving the perception of the remanufacturing industry is also a key objective. Using the term ‘sustainable manufacturing’ to describe the work of remanufacturing companies is an important step. To paraphrase Merriam-Webster, “sustainable” is harvesting, using a resource without completely using it up. This is what companies in our industry do with cores. “Manufacture” is the process of making something, systematically, by hand or by machine. That is a standardised industrial process. Put the two words together and that’s a contemporary way to say “remanufacturing”.
So why does it matter?
'Remanufacture’ is not a popular word. Merriam-Webster shows on their website that its popularity of look-up is in the bottom 20-30% of all word look-ups. Whereas, ‘sustainable’ – a word that’s been around for nearly 100 years – is in the top 10%. (‘Manufacture’, of course, is a popular and well-understood term.) Take this in context, knowing the perception of our industry does not match the reality, and it becomes clear that there is a better way for us to communicate.
Don’t miss the opportunity to present your company in a more favourable light. Recently, a MERA member decided to take this approach in their recruiting process. When meeting with candidates, management described the organization as a sustainable manufacturing company. During interviews, staff focused on excellence in manufacturing and the environmental benefits of sustainable manufacturing. They reported that – as compared to past interviews when they focused on the term remanufacturing – candidates were more engaged and expressed greater interest in joining the company. They are now using the narrative with their current employees.
Don’t miss the opportunity to elevate your remanufactured goods. Another member company has been using an advanced narrative when comparing new products – side by side – to their remanufactured products: “This product was made using a traditional manufacturing process. [Note the absence of the word “new”.] And this second product was made using our sustainable manufacturing process. The second one has quality on par with the first, and it costs less. Which one would you choose?” They are pleased to report that the product associated with sustainable manufacturing is the perennial winner.
Don’t miss the opportunity to record your contributions in a sustainability report. Many companies do an excellent job capturing the economic, environmental and social impacts of their operations and other activities. Any practices related to corporate social responsibility should be highlighted, especially the benefits of your remanufacturing operations. Include how your company reduces its impact on the environment, benefits your workers, and increases participation in the community, including your celebration of Earth Day. Remanufacturers and their customers truly have a compelling story – great news to share about saving our planet.
Don’t miss the opportunity to mainstream your messaging within your community. During an early meeting of the MERA board of directors, a new board member stated: “I’m here because I want my neighbours to understand and appreciate what we do.” He joined MERA because he believed in the cause, and he believed there is strength in numbers. His words have grown to be more than a statement. They are a rallying cry – a challenge for all in our industry. Sustainable manufacturing is the new era of manufacturing. In today’s world – as we move closer to a circular economy – all manufacturing will be driven to reuse as much as possible. Let the world know that sustainable manufacturing companies are leading the way!