In us alone, 9 million passenger cars, 300 million tires, 670 million compact fluorescent lamps, and over 5 billion kilograms of plastic products are discarded annually.

Note that, as indicated subsequently, the term discarding implies that the products have reached the top of their useful life; it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re wasted and dumped into landfills.

The particular manufacturing process and also the operation of machinery can each have a big environmental impact.

Some waste is produced by Manufacturing operations, such as:

a. Machining and trimmed materials have chips from sheet forming, casting, and molding operations.

b. Slag from foundries and welding operations.

c. Additives in sand utilized in sand-casting operations.

d. Hazardous waste and toxic materials employed in various products.

e. Liquids from processes like heat treating and plating.

f. Solvents from cleaning operations.

The adverse effects of those activities, their damage to our surroundings and to the Earth’s ecosystem, and, ultimately, their effect on the standard of human life are now well known and appreciated. Major concerns involve warming, greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide), acid rain, ozone depletion, hazardous wastes, water and pollution, and contaminant seepage into water sources.

One measure of the adverse impact of human activities is named the carbon footprint, which quantifies the number of greenhouse gases produced in our daily activities.

The term green design and manufacturing is now in common usage all told industrial activities, with a serious emphasis on design for the environment (DFE).

Also called environmentally conscious design and manufacturing, this approach considers all possible adverse environmental impacts of materials, processes, operations, and products, so they will all be taken under consideration at the earliest stages of design and production.

These goals, which increasingly became global, even have led to the concept of design for recycling (DFR). Recycling may involve one among two basic activities:

• Biological cycle: Organic materials degrade naturally, and within the simplest version, they result in new soil which will sustain life. Thus, product design involves the utilization of (usually) organic materials. The products function well for his or her intended life and might then be safely discarded.

• Industrial cycle: The materials within the product are recycled and reused continuously.

For example, aluminum beverage cans are recycled and reused after they need to serve their intended purpose.

To demonstrate the economic benefits of this approach, it’s been determined that producing aluminum from scrap, rather than from bauxite ore, reduces production costs by the maximum amount of 66% and reduces energy consumption and pollution by quite 90%.

One of the fundamental principles of design for recycling is that the use of materials and product-design features that facilitate biological or industrial recycling. In the U.S. automotive industry, for instance, about 75% of automotive parts (mostly metal) are now recycled, and there are continuing plans to recycle the remainder yet, including plastics, glass, rubber, and foam.

A term coined within the 1970s and also called C2C, cradle-to-cradle production considers the impact of every stage of a product’s life cycle, from the time natural resources are mined and processed into raw materials, through each stage of producing products, their use and, finally, recycling.

Certification procedures for companies are now being developed for cradle-to-cradle production, as they need to be for internal control.

Cradle-to-grave production, also called womb-to-tomb production, includes a similar approach but doesn’t necessarily consider or tackle the responsibility of recycling.

Cradle-to-cradle production especially emphasizes

1. Waste-free production.

2. Using recyclable and nonhazardous materials.

3. Reducing energy consumption.

4. Using renewable energy, like wind and solar power.

5. Using materials and energy sources that are locally available, so on reduce energy use related to their transport, which, by and huge, has an inherently high carbon footprint.

6. Continuously exploring the reuse and recycling of materials, thus perpetually trying to recirculate materials; also included is investigating the composting of materials whenever appropriate or necessary, rather than dumping them into landfills.


In reviewing the assorted activities described to this point, note that there are overarching relationships among the essential concepts of DFMA, DFD, DFE, and DFR.

These relationships will be summarized as guidelines, now rapidly being accepted worldwide:

1. Reduce waste of materials, by refining product design, reducing the number of materials utilized in products, and selecting manufacturing processes that minimize scrap (such as forming rather than machining).

2. Reduce the employment of hazardous materials in products and processes.

3. Minimize energy use, and whenever possible, encourage the employment of renewable sources of energy.

4. Encourage recycling by using materials that are part of either industrial or biological cycling, but not both within the same product assembly.

Ensure proper handling and disposal of all waste within the case of materials used that aren’t a part of an industrial or biological cycle.

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