The Cost of Green Manufacturing: How Will the Green Economy Trend Affect My Job?

As green manufacturing (manufacturing materials, equipment, and products that are eco-friendly or will be used in such endeavors) expands, so does the unease at what seems like a temporary trend in manufacturing. Sure, green manufacturing is much more of an industry and a lot stronger than the skinny jeans/jeggings trend in retail. However, it is still very new and embodied by concepts and practices that buck the time-tested standards. Naturally, many investors, local governments, and even workers are wary of putting their faith into a green manufacturing plant. The “fad” component isn’t their only worry.

Policy Dependence

The incentives given to lure green business to certain states and to promote such activities in the U.S. are often the backbone of green plant funding. The fear is that a recession or change in the political climate could wipe out that funding, causing the companies to have to scrounge for investors. In a bad economy, investors are hard to find. Furthermore, there is the concern that public policy that now supports green manufacturing could vanish with legislation, leaving the companies, and the towns they support, on their own.

Playing Techno Catch-up

Another issue is the technology used to process, produce, and manufacture the green products. In many cases, it is either too expensive to mass-produce or not developed enough to support a large-scale manufacturing effort. In other cases, the technology is very new. The processes and equipment are either untested under standard use or too new to know yet how they would hold up. Technology used to produce things like magnesium fuel cells, electric cars, and solar powered appliances must catch up before green jobs can take a firm foothold in American industry.

Workforce Skimp

The last unique problem with green manufacturing is the amount of automation in the firms that have gotten past the technological “newness”. These firms rely heavily on the technology that eliminates tasks traditionally left for human operators. Green plants that have been welcomed throughout the U.S. open to disappointed locals who find that the number of job openings is significantly less than a traditional manufacturing plant. Furthermore, many of the positions require degrees that are not found in the local area. Thus, people brought from outside the community fill positions. This serves as further insult to injury.

The abundance of green jobs and green plant openings in the next few years are met with mixed feelings and rightfully so. Until a stronger grasp is made in the technology and financial divisions, the futures of the plants are uncertain. The types of jobs offered are not help either.