In the bustling district of Coimbra, Portugal, Microplásticos stands tall as a beacon of sustainable industrial practices. For 36 years, this automotive component supplier has been on a relentless journey towards carbon neutrality, setting a firm goal to achieve it by 2030. João Marques, the administrator of Microplásticos, emphasizes their commitment, stating, "We have a clear target to reach carbon neutrality by 2030."
Green Energy Transition
Microplásticos has made significant strides in reducing its carbon footprint, with an 88% decrease achieved simply by transitioning to green energy. The core of their production process, heavily reliant on energy consumption, saw a remarkable decrease in carbon emissions through this transition. A substantial solar energy investment, featuring a large photovoltaic panel park, contributes 15% to 20% of the industry's energy consumption, further underlining their commitment to sustainable energy sources.
Digitizing Production for Efficiency and Environmental Impact
Embracing technological innovation, Microplásticos is not only transforming its energy sources but also revolutionizing its production processes. The company has initiated a pilot program using augmented reality in production, allowing operators to utilize tablets to enhance assembly line efficiency. This forward-thinking approach not only improves operational processes but also aligns with environmental goals.
Electrifying the Fleet and Going Paperless
As part of their commitment to sustainability, Microplásticos has declared "war" on paper, digitizing operations throughout the organization. The ongoing electrification of the company's automotive fleet further demonstrates their dedication to reducing environmental impact. João Marques emphasizes, "Not only in management departments but also on the factory floor, we digitized everything."
Industry Challenges and Opportunities
However, challenges persist in the automotive industry's broader environmental landscape. Despite internal efforts to decrease environmental impact, the use of recycled materials faces resistance from customers and automotive brands. The lack of a directive mandating the use of recycled materials in the industry remains a missed opportunity to significantly reduce carbon emissions.
EcoX: Transforming Used Cooking Oil into Sustainable Detergents
Venturing north to Vagos, the EcoX company, nestled in Aveiro, takes a unique approach to sustainability. Specializing in producing detergents from used cooking oil, EcoX addresses the environmental issues associated with improper disposal of such waste. Beatriz Bandeira, the manager of EcoX, explains, "Oil is a product that causes many environmental problems when not disposed of properly."
Innovative Processes and Sustainable Products
EcoX collaborates with partners to collect and treat vegetable-based waste oil, transforming it into a rich base for sustainable detergents. Rigorous laboratory testing ensures the stability, aging, and aromatic qualities of their products, which include floor cleaners with scents like mango and multi-purpose cleaners with fig fragrance. The company's dedication to research and development is evident, with products undergoing extensive testing for up to 16 weeks in controlled environments.
Embracing Change: Support for Sustainable Transformation
EcoX, among the participants in the Pacto Centro Circular initiative, exemplifies how companies can receive support for environmental transformations. Isabel Damasceno, president of the CCDRC, emphasizes the shifting landscape, stating, "There are demands and even proprietary funds for energy and environmental transformations in companies."
Conclusion: A Sustainable Future Requires Collective Action
In conclusion, the journey towards sustainability is multifaceted, requiring not only internal efforts but also industry-wide initiatives. Companies like Microplásticos and EcoX serve as beacons, showcasing the potential for environmentally conscious industrial practices. As the world emphasizes the need for sustainable transformations, it is imperative that businesses, customers, and regulatory bodies join hands in shaping a greener and more sustainable future.