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9 Ways to embrace sustainability in Industry 4.0

We recently attended a Climate Innovation Summit and came away with some fantastic insights on sustainability. Here’s a friendly guide for Industry 4.0 leaders in manufacturing on how to run a more sustainable company.

1. Encouragement over criticism

First off, let’s build a culture of encouragement. When your team tries new things to be more sustainable, cheer them on! Sharing what works (and what doesn’t) helps everyone. Greenwashing is out; genuine change is in.

2. Collaborate for greater impact

Look for ways to collaborate with others. Whether it’s teaming up with other companies, universities, or community groups, working together amplifies your impact. Think about pooling resources for bigger, better environmental projects.

3. Smart plant choices

Don’t overlook the power of plants. Choosing the right native plants for your landscapes can make a big difference. Talk to experts to ensure you make choices that benefit the environment and fit local conditions.

4. Eat and grow more veggies

Promote a plant-rich diet while reducing the meat you consume, even within your organization. Also, consider growing more vegetables on-site or supporting your local farmers. When you host company dinners, consider making plants the main course and serving meat as a side. It’s a simple step that can have a surprisingly large environmental impact.

5. Innovate and think circular

Get creative with your sustainability efforts. How can you repurpose materials? For example, "Can you use recycled metals or plastics instead of new materials? Or give car batteries a second life in solar power systems? Thinking outside the box can lead to some impactful solutions.

6. Water wisdom

Water is precious. Focus on improving how you use and manage it. With its wealth of water resources and talent, Chicago is a great example. Why not treat wastewater as a resource? It can be used to produce biogas, grow crops, cool industrial processors and more.

7. Value ecosystems

Restoring ecosystems like wetlands can help manage floods and control erosion. It’s not just about planting trees—consider all vegetation types that can store carbon and survive local conditions.

8. Food we eat

As an individual, the most impactful thing you could do to reduce your impact on emissions is to reduce the amount of meat you eat. You don’t have to become vegan; even swapping one meat meal per week for a plant-based meal will make a difference. All of us working together will make a significant difference.

Shop local and invest in your local farms. This will reduce emissions from transportation and, if you buy organic, can be even healthier for you and your family due to the decrease in pesticide usage.

At an organizational level, consider how your suppliers process their products from seed to finished product. Here are some questions you could ask your partners to evaluate whether they are positioned to become sustainable suppliers.

9. Energy we use

When choosing energy sources, consider sustainability. Consider reusing batteries made from mined minerals and maximizing materials above ground to avoid unnecessary mining. Ensure your batteries are replaceable, repairable, and can have a second life after their initial use. Let's innovate together to harness our oldest energy forms in new, eco-friendly ways.


Running a sustainable manufacturing company means being creative, collaborative, and thoughtful. Encourage your team, share successes, and always look for ways to improve. By making sustainability a priority, we can build a greener future together.

Let’s commit to thinking creatively and acting collaboratively to make sustainability a core part of our industry. Here’s to a greener, more sustainable future!

Published by Esther Galantowicz , Hannah Green in Industry 4.0

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