E-Cycling Helps Manufacturers Generate Business Value
Electronic waste is a big problem.
In 2019, the world generated a record 53.6 million metric tons of discarded electronic and electrical devices, according to a Global E-waste Monitor report. That’s an increase of 21% in just five years. But there’s more: The figure is expected to double by 2050, hitting 120 million tons annually.
The good news is that manufacturers can be an active part of the solution. Though their bread and butter has typically been bringing new products to market, manufacturers are now also developing end-of-life processes for goods to mitigate environmental impact, according to Bright Machines Vice President of Industrial Solutions Adam Montoya, writing in the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s Manufacturing Leadership Journal. (The MLC is the digital transformation division of the NAM).
The challenge: complex components. Disassembling a product is not nearly as straightforward as assembling it, according to Montoya. Take a server, for example. A company might know what’s inside it based on its original configuration, but memory or processor upgrades could have changed over the course of its life.
- When a lot of change has taken place, the dismantling process is unique to each server, making it complex and difficult to automate.
The solution: intelligent disassembly. Improving the end-of-life process for electronics requires intelligent disassembly, a combination of smart technology and a different way of thinking, says Montoya. Here’s how it works:
- Automation technology that uses AI and advanced vision systems interprets the contents of a particular component and compares it against the original blueprint.
- Next, the system assesses the presence and location of components within the unit.
- It then sorts, separates and removes components so they can be reclaimed or recycled.
The bottom line: Manufacturers stand to realize many benefits from intelligent disassembly. Components with sensitive data can have machine-driven proof of destruction. Systems with usable parts can be repurposed rapidly.
- Ultimately, it’s an important way for manufacturers to collectively reduce carbon footprints and electronic waste while delivering business value, says Montoya.
For more on this topic, read Rethinking End-of-Life Technology Value in the Manufacturing Leadership Journal. And to learn more about how manufacturing leaders are undertaking digital transformations, join the MLC at its Rethink conference in Marco Island, Florida, on June 26–28.
Timmons to Congress: Permitting Reform Urgently Needed
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons has been making the most of his time on the road during the Competing to Win Tour, delivering a strong message to congressional leaders about top manufacturing priorities. He did so again yesterday on permitting reform with congressional leaders in Washington:
- “Some of the biggest obstacles preventing manufacturers—and therefore the entire American economy—from reaching our full potential are the permitting delays, red tape and complicated bureaucracy that have plagued us for decades,” he told the leadership of several House committees.
He went on to cite a number of different areas in which permitting reform is desperately needed, including . . .
Energy: Permitting reform is crucial to almost every sector of energy manufacturing, from oil and gas all the way to nuclear and clean energy technologies.
- “For example,” Timmons noted, “the siting of and infrastructure for hydrogen power generation and transportation and for advanced, small modular and micro-nuclear reactors have progressed far too slowly.”
- “Manufacturers depend on access to reliable and affordable energy to expand, which is why we support reforms that would foster transparent, streamlined and timely federal regulatory processes for the siting, permitting and licensing of energy delivery infrastructure of all types,” he continued.
Transportation: Manufacturers also need railroads, highways, airports and ports to run their operations and get their products out the door.
- “Yet obtaining permit approvals for these projects often takes years, especially when reviews are piecemeal and duplicative,” Timmons pointed out. “[M]any companies are waiting on the sidelines because transportation infrastructure construction moves too slowly—or not at all.”
- “To ensure the broad and beneficial impact of [the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021] … it is critical to clear permit backlogs and ease processing timelines,” he said.
Resource development: Manufacturers prioritize sustainability, Timmons noted, but “restricting access to America’s abundant natural resources hinders our ability to strengthen domestic supply chains.”
- “The inconsistent administration of critical mineral policies, for example, has limited our ability to use a wide range of resources that lie on and beneath federal lands—resources that are critical to producing everything from cars to medical devices,” he added.
- “Streamlining resource permitting and leasing policies will help stabilize manufacturing supply chains, control costs for consumers, reduce our reliance on foreign countries and create jobs in the U.S.”
Environmental standards: Manufacturers have worked steadily to improve U.S. air quality, helping to “lead our country to the cleanest air in the modern world,” said Timmons.
- “Unfortunately, when federal agencies continually revise standards before current standards are met and before states have implemented prior mandates, they create unpredictability”—which may mean that new manufacturing facilities get built in other countries instead, where they don’t face as rigorous standards.
- However, if Congress makes regulations more predictable and consolidates review processes, the U.S. “can continue to build on its strong record of environmental stewardship by boosting domestic manufacturing, which is environmentally cleaner than international competitors,” Timmons concluded.
Congressional intent: Congress should make sure that permitting reform isn’t just passed, but also implemented as easily as possible, Timmons advocated.
- It should conform to “on recent and future statutory streamlining efforts such as One Federal Decision,” while making sure federal agencies don’t duplicate each other’s efforts and waste time.
The last word: “Permitting affects every aspect of our lives—from our economic security to our national security,” said Timmons. “[I]f we seize this opportunity to lead, there is no limit to what manufacturers in the United States can accomplish—for the good of our people and for the good of the world.”
NAM Pushes Back on Harmful New Air Regulations
Manufacturers have long led the way in efforts to reduce air pollution and improve air quality. Yet, new proposed regulations from the federal government will work against these efforts instead of bolstering them, stymying critical progress and destabilizing economic growth at a time when both are more important than ever.
The challenge: The Environmental Protection Agency is considering a new rule that would impose stricter air standards on particulate matter known as PM2.5 (i.e., particles that measure two and a half micrometers or less in diameter). This rule would enact significant top-down restrictions, forcing manufacturers to change their operations abruptly and without any support.
The reality: For years, manufacturers across all sectors have been developing smart, innovative ways to use energy, water and other resources more sustainably—all while boosting economic growth and creating good jobs at the same time.
- Today, manufacturing in the U.S. is cleaner and greener than at any other time in history, largely due to a revolution in how manufacturers produce, use and recycle energy and resources.
- Across the board, levels of major pollutants have declined dramatically over the past few decades. Thanks to existing regulations and a culture of innovation, the U.S. is far outpacing global competitors in environmental stewardship.
By the numbers: According to the EPA, the U.S. reduced six common pollutants covered by National Ambient Air Quality Standards, including PM2.5, by 78% between 1970 and 2020. In fact, PM2.5 levels alone have dropped a full 44% since 2000.
The impact: These new regulations could be devastating for manufacturers and for the climate. Here are just a few of the negative repercussions:
- An additional regulatory burden on businesses will drain resources from innovative manufacturers, posing additional hurdles to the investment in research and development that fuels progress in energy efficiency and climate action.
- Making permitting harder could also jeopardize new clean energy projects that America needs to address climate change.
- The standards will hinder onshoring, resulting in continued manufacturing abroad—which is less clean than manufacturing in the U.S. The EPA’s proposal undercuts U.S. competitiveness and will not further the goal of global emissions reduction.
- New regulations could damage an already-slowing economy, increasing costs and constraining job growth at a time when Americans are grappling with record inflation.
Our view: Rather than imposing new and unnecessary obligations on manufacturers, the federal government should focus on enforcing the strong regulations that are already in place and give manufacturers the space to find better solutions.
- “The EPA’s announcement . . . [about reconsidering] the PM 2.5 standard will only further weaken an already slowing economy,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Let manufacturers do what they do best: innovate and deploy modern technologies to protect the environment, while creating jobs and strengthening the economy.”
NAM in action: The NAM is rallying manufacturers to speak out against the EPA’s proposal and calling on Congress to oppose these harmful regulations.
- Manufacturers can show their support by sending an email to decision makers in Washington, explaining the real impact of this damaging proposal and urging them to stand up against unnecessary regulations.
Join in: There is an EPA hearing to discuss the proposal on Feb. 21. To participate, be sure to sign up soon—the registration deadline is Feb. 16.
Manufacturers: Improving Air Quality Is a Top Priority; EPA Announcement Is the Wrong Approach
Washington, D.C. – Following the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement that it will reconsider National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:
“Improving air quality in the U.S. is a priority for manufacturers, and we’ve worked for years to make progress in delivering some of the cleanest manufacturing processes in the world. Based on the EPA’s own data, air quality has improved by more than 30% over the past 20 years, even as production and energy consumption have increased.
“The EPA’s announcement today to reconsider the PM 2.5 standard will only further weaken an already slowing economy. It will push states and localities into a nonattainment designation, which will halt new investment, stop operations in some circumstances and cost jobs. Manufacturers are already concerned about the threat of a recession—62% believe that the U.S. will officially slip into a recession in 2023, according to the Q4 2022 NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey released yesterday.
“Today’s announcement is the wrong approach. Let manufacturers do what they do best: innovate and deploy modern technologies to protect the environment, while creating jobs and strengthening the economy.”
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.9 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 55% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.
Sustainability Is a Top Manufacturer Priority, Survey Shows
Manufacturers are pursuing sustainability like never before.
That’s according to recent polling conducted by the Manufacturing Leadership Council, the NAM’s digital transformation division. The annual Sustainability and the Circular Economy research survey seeks to determine the progress made in sustainable manufacturing.
Competitiveness: There has been a surge in the number of manufacturing executives who view sustainability as critical to the future of their businesses.
- 58% of respondents in 2022 believe sustainability is essential to future competitiveness compared to 38% in 2021.
- 68% of executives say they are implementing extensive, corporate-wide sustainability strategies. That’s up from just 39% in 2019.
What’s driving change: The motivations go beyond regulatory compliance and cost savings.
- 78% say sustainability is about better alignment with corporate values.
- 68% believe in creating a cleaner, healthier environment.
- 66% seek to improve company reputation with customers and investors.
Top corporate goals: More than half of survey respondents reported having specific sustainability goals and metrics across almost all key functions in the company.
- Goals were most apparent in manufacturing and production (79%), supply chain (69%) and product design and development (67%).
- Additional goals were cited in transportation and logistics (56%) and partner compliance (51%).
Energy efficiency is No. 1: The primary sustainability focus of manufacturers, according to survey results, is energy efficiency and reduction, combined with the transition to renewable energy sources. These efforts are linked intrinsically to meeting net-zero emissions goals.
- 45% of respondents report having announced formal net-zero goals.
- 30% aim to hit net zero by 2030.
Digital tech, employee training play a role: Also on the rise is the number of companies that recognize the importance of digital solutions in their sustainability efforts.
- These tools are being used to manage and monitor materials and energy consumption, optimize operations to improve efficiency and report sustainability progress.
- Respondents also say meeting sustainability targets must include engaging employees through education and training, as well as greening their supply chain.
The last word: An overwhelming 90% of all respondents agree that manufacturing has a special responsibility to society to become more sustainable and accelerate the transition to a future circular industrial economy.
Interested in putting some renewable energy solutions into action, including solar power, battery storage and LED lighting? Programs from utility companies and other entities enable efficiency upgrades with little or no upfront capital. Connect with NAM Energy to explore your options!
Manufacturers: Kigali Ratification a Blueprint for Bipartisan Climate Action
Washington, D.C. – Following the Senate’s 69–27 vote to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Rachel Jones released the following statement:
“The Senate’s vote to ratify the Kigali Amendment is a blueprint for the type of bipartisan climate action that meets science-based targets while strengthening manufacturing competitiveness. It will reduce emissions by the equivalent of 80 billion metric tons of CO2 by 2050, with the potential to create up to 150,000 more U.S. jobs by 2027. This action proves that if we work together—if we rise above politics and partisanship and focus on solving problems—we can make our vision of a brighter tomorrow into reality.
“Manufacturers have supported the ratification of the Kigali Amendment for years. This treaty will be a boon for manufacturing, for global trade and for products that protect health, safety, comfort and productivity worldwide. Ratification further strengthens our global leadership on the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons and will help the U.S. hold countries like China and India accountable on emissions. This shows that we can tackle climate change while strengthening our global competitiveness as we deploy next-generation technologies.”
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.
Manufacturers: Court’s Decision Affirms EPA’s Authority to Issue Appropriate Greenhouse Gas Regulations
Washington, D.C. – Following the Supreme Court’s 6–3 decision in West Virginia vs. EPA, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:
“Manufacturers share a deep commitment to protecting our planet and our people, and manufacturing innovation holds the key to solving the generational challenge of climate change. The court’s decision affirms the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to issue appropriate greenhouse gas regulations while providing a reminder that the agency must stay within the guardrails delegated by Congress. As some of the largest electricity consumers and as electricity generators, manufacturers are ready to work with the EPA to deliver innovative and balanced solutions that protect our environment and our competitiveness as it considers next steps.”
Background: Earlier this week, the NAM along with 42 state partners sent President Biden a letter highlighting the importance of affordable, reliable electricity for manufacturers to remain competitive. It signals manufacturers’ eagerness to work with policymakers on the important decisions and planning surrounding the future of the electrical grid and broader energy policy.
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.7 million men and women, contributes $2.71 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org
NAM Urges Changes to Climate Disclosures Rule
As the Securities and Exchange Commission considers a prescriptive rule that imposes significant and burdensome climate-related disclosure obligations on public companies, the NAM is pushing back. It is fighting for critical changes that will support manufacturers’ leadership on climate change.
The background: Manufacturers have long been leaders on climate solutions, working to create the technologies and processes needed to combat climate change while also providing material information about their climate-related efforts to investors.
- But a recent rule proposed by the SEC would mandate that companies, large and small, report reams of complex climate-related information, even when that information may not have any impact on their financial performance or operations.
The rule: The proposed rule, which the SEC released in March, would require qualitative descriptions of companies’ climate-related risks and strategies as well as quantitative reporting of their greenhouse gas emissions and any climate-related impacts on their financial statements.
- The result would be an unworkable framework that does not align with current practices—imposing an enormous burden on manufacturers across the country.
- Additional information can be found about the rule here and about the NAM’s engagement with the SEC on climate disclosures here.
The response: The NAM has laid out a series of necessary changes that the SEC must make to reduce the compliance costs and liability risks associated with the rule’s requirements. Our recommendations will align the rule more closely with current climate reporting practices—decreasing burdens on public companies and increasing information utility for investors. Specifically, the NAM is calling on the SEC to:
- Delay annual GHG emissions reporting, granting manufacturers time to collect and verify data for a midyear report (rather than the proposed February deadline).
- Strike disclosure of Scope 3 emissions, which requires tracking emissions data through the supply chain. While some manufacturers are already working to understand these emissions, the data collection, estimation and reporting methodologies are still evolving. At a minimum, the SEC should provide more flexibility for companies subject to the Scope 3 requirement.
- Rescind accounting changes that would require climate impact analyses of companies’ consolidated financial statements on a line-by-line basis.
- Adjust the climate-related risk disclosures and Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions reporting requirements to make the provisions less prescriptive and more aligned with existing company practices.
- Fine-tune the guidelines for reporting on climate-related goals to avoid penalizing companies that set ambitious targets.
- Remove requirements that companies disclose competitively sensitive information about the internal tools they use to understand and plan for climate risks, scenarios and activities.
The last word: “The SEC’s climate rule as written would be harmful for both large and small manufacturers and unhelpful for investors,” said NAM Senior Director of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Charles Crain. “The NAM is committed to supporting our members in their efforts to combat climate change and inform investors about this critical work, and the recommendations we’ve offered present an important step toward that goal.”
Watch: NAM President & CEO Jay Timmons joined CNBC to discuss the impact of the proposed rule.
Manufacturers: New Water Permitting Proposal Falls Short of Needed Certainty
Washington, D.C. – Following the introduction of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Water Quality Certification Improvement Rule, National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Rachel Jones released the following statement:
“The EPA’s new water permitting proposal falls short of providing the certainty that manufacturers in America desperately need from their local, state and federal regulators, and if the EPA doesn’t get the regulations right here, American families will continue to feel the consequences of rising construction costs and delayed infrastructure investments. While we are pleased that this proposal provides some clarity on the scope of reviews and sets timelines to increase predictability, it just doesn’t go far enough to stop activists from abusing what were intended to be important water protections.
“Manufacturers in America have endured red tape and permitting delays for decades, and manufacturers know what happens when the vaguely worded Section 401 is used as an excuse to block critical infrastructure: We lose out on modern manufacturing jobs. By setting clearer guidelines, the EPA could empower manufacturers to invest in our people and communities with confidence and to work with state leaders to protect our water and environment. The NAM will continue working with policymakers to improve this measure so that it can strengthen environmental stewardship while speeding infrastructure investment and expanding manufacturing here in the United States.”
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.7 million men and women, contributes $2.71 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.
NAM Joins Groups in Applauding Kigali Amendment Progress
Washington, D.C. – In response to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passage of the Kigali Amendment, the National Association of Manufacturers, Air-Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration Institute, American Chemistry Council, The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued the following statement:
“The business community applauds the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for its bipartisan vote approving the Kigali Amendment for consideration by the full Senate. This is an important step in ensuring the U.S. joins this global effort while accessing international markets that will grow American jobs. It is a win for the economy, the environment, and U.S. leadership.”
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.5 million men and women, contributes $2.71 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.