Realizing environmentally conscious manufacturing in the post–COVID-19 era

Nancy Diaz-Elsayed, K. C. Morris, Julius Schoop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The unique and unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have resulted in significant disruptions to diverse manufacturing supply chains across the globe. The negative economic impacts of these unexpected and rapid changes in demand and available supplies have been severe, and the economic sustainability of many businesses has been revealed as being highly sensitive to such changes. COVID-19 will inevitably change manufacturing, potentially in a way that is not sustainable unless we factor sustainability into our “redesign.” Otherwise, the industry will remain overwhelmed in a reactionary cycle when the next major problem emerges, such as a lack of resources during a natural or man-made disaster. In this article, we present strategies for addressing three sustainability challenges relevant to manufacturing introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic: (1) an increase in waste generation, (2) uncertainty in life cycle impacts, and (3) navigating new modes of operation for manufacturing. To mitigate the sustainability challenges of COVID-19 and create a more resilient industrial sector, we need to assess the potential of each risk to product development and production processes. We envision a systematic integration of sustainable manufacturing principles and metrics into the business practices of manufacturing enterprises, including the products they produce and the processes used to create them. Realizing this vision will require greater availability and transparency of key data related to environmental and social sustainability factors, which can be used to create a clean and sustainable future in which pandemic and disaster readiness is realized through sustainable manufacturing.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSmart and Sustainable Manufacturing Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 ASTM International. All rights reserved.


  • Green manufacturing
  • Post–coronavirus disease 2019 strategies
  • Resilience
  • Sustainable manufacturing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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