Singapore opened its first “green” factory two months ago setting up a milestone for Singapore’s green industry. The news brought great attention to a broader area—Asia, and people soon realized that most manufacturers in Asia have begun to turn “green” in recent years. This is becoming a trend in Asia that cannot be held back.
Big Western multinational firms started to implement environmentally friendly factories in Asia the past five years. The United States Green Building Council reported that 300 manufacturing facilities in Asia are certified or waiting for certification through what is called the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED. Experts found that this move will greatly reduce energy costs for firms and this is the main reason why companies are embracing environmental measures, rather than goodwill. For example, Intel reduced its global energy bill by $111 million since 2008 as a result of a $59 million investment in environmental projects. Compared to Western multinationals, most domestic manufacturers in Asia still practice traditional manufacturing. They have refused to invest considerable amount of money into facility upgrades and “green” research projects because they usually do not work directly with consumers who value a green approach in the manufacturing process. Therefore, they do not see the benefits in applying “green” operations.
Although local consumers do not praise the “green” approach of manufacturing, the market for green industry is expanding in Asia. Asian energy consumption grew at only 3.7% in the last few years while the economy in its peak period grew at about 9%. The great decline in Asian energy consumption means that more manufacturers in Asia now apply sustainable measures in their assembly lines, led by large Western multinational manufacturers.
I believe that facility upgrades will be a major trend in the manufacturing industry of Asia because governments have noticed that pollution is becoming a serious problem due to the poor behaviors of several manufacturers. I think the main problem for the developing countries of Asia is raising awareness about the benefits of sustainable industrial upgrades.