Sustainable Manufacturing Consortium: Members leverage their experience and resources

Posted November 26, 2010

Partners in Project Green and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) formally launched the consortium at the end of September 2010 in response to a need from manufacturers in the Pearson Eco-Business Zone. About one third of the businesses in this 12 000 hectare zone surrounding Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport is in the manufacturing sector and account for a total annual energy consumption of close to 14 petajoules (PJ).

One of the biggest hurdles for manufacturers is the speed at which sustainable technologies change and evolve. Members of the consortium are striving to reduce their consumption of resources by leveraging each other’s strengths through sharing, learning and improving the implementation of the best practices in their operations. Their overall goals are to achieve accelerated results in implementation time, levels of innovation, organization and personal performance and the ability to sustain improvements. “We realize how networking and business-to-business relationships help companies to implement sustainable initiatives much faster and cheaper,” says Chris Rickett, Senior Project Manager, Partners in Project Green.

The consortium was modelled on similar consortia that operate worldwide under the guidance of High Performance Solutions Inc. In partnership with this consulting group, Partners in Project Green engaged 11 businesses in launching the consortium. Each member contributes to the creation of a vision and an annual strategic plan, while Partners in Project Green and TRCA carry out administrative duties. “Commitment is required. Companies pay a $500 monthly fee and are obligated to spend 11 days a year attending board meetings, training days and facility assessments,” explains Rickett.

A side group, an arm of the board, focuses on specific issues of interest to members; currently it is concentrating on employee sustainability awareness. Added membership privileges include an individual member-company sustainability diagnostic, access to the High Performance Manufacturing Consortium (a national network) and access to specialized resources.

“The consortium allows members to leverage each other’s strengths. In this way, initiatives that have been test-driven by one member can be implemented much more quickly by others,” says Rickett. SPEC Furniture, for example, has benefitted from the experience of Research in Motion in implementing its Zero Waste to Landfill program and is now putting its own program in place.

“The networking goes well beyond the meetings,” notes McKie. “With the consortium, we know that we are not alone in our sustainability efforts.” Clark concurs, saying that “the consortium has a bright future with such a solid base of companies with a large range of experiences and resources.”