Manufacturing – The News logo with factory worker in background

Looking for a happy ending? Cheerful news around manufacturing seems hard to find these days. But it’s there if you dig deeper! Read all about it in our monthly round-up of manufacturing-related news.

Impending Gas Catastrophe May Spark Post-Winter Party

It’s not looking good, according to ‘Europe’s Winter of Discontent’.

“If you have spent the past few days being sizzled alive on a Mediterranean beach or slow-roasted on the streets of Berlin, London or Rome amid a heatwave, cold weather may be the last thing on your mind. But make no mistake, winter is coming, and it promises to be brutal and divisive because of an energy crisis that is rapidly worsening as Vladimir Putin strangles supplies of Russian gas.”

“Industrial users such as chemicals and glassmaking firms are in trouble, as well as a broad list of businesses, including many German champions.”

It’s time for the European Union to show unity. It’s time for a plan. Sacrifices will need to be made. But it may be a blessing in disguise: “The prize for Europe is not just getting through the coming months. Europe will forever free itself from Russian energy intimidation. It will also have created a coherent continent-wide energy-security mechanism that will help accelerate the shift to cleaner energy. Europe has a habit of coming together during crises. It is time to do so again. If you are reading this in Paris or Madrid with the air-conditioning on, turn it down a notch.”

Once Again: A Perfect Storm of Perfect Storms

“War, raising the specter of nuclear conflict. Climate change, threatening famine, flood, and fire. Inflation, forcing central banks to crush consumer demand. The pandemic, closing factories and overloading hospitals. Each crisis is hard enough to parse by itself; the interconnected mess of them is infinitely more so,” according to ‘A Crisis Historian Has Some Bad News For Us’.

“America and the world are living through what Adam Tooze, the internet’s foremost historian of money and disaster, describes as a ‘polycrisis’. As he sips a beer at a bar near Columbia University, where he is the director of the European Institute, Tooze talks through a long list of challenges.”

The once obscure academic is now an economic influencer. And while he drowns us in bad news, he remains strangely chirpy. “In person, he comes off as intellectual, sure, but also self-deprecating, voluble, funny. While we chat polycrisis, he riffs on his love of cities (‘You cannot feel depressed!’); his sense of alienation, being so few degrees from so many important people (‘a weird club’); and his experience in therapy (‘Being present is the hardest thing on Earth’).”

Meanwhile: “He is offering no reassurance about where that might head – only the hope that perhaps this polycrisis might be knowable to us.”

Here’s to turning knowledge into power.

ESG Is Not Experiencing Its Happiest Hour

“Every industry can be part of the solution — or part of the ongoing problem”, according to ‘Corporate Greenwashing Is Getting Harder To Spot – Here’s How To Do It’. “Greenwashing obscures the level of change that needs to happen,” says one activist. “It’s a giant societal placebo that makes you think we’re moving in the right direction when that’s not true.”

Meanwhile, much ire is saved for ESG – since its vagueness-in-vastness can easily be exploited. “The methods used to evaluate companies’ Environmental, Social, and Governance credentials are often misleading and downplay climate impacts.”

In another article, it’s argued ‘ESG Should Be Boiled Down To One Simple Measure: Emissions’. “Although ESG is often well-meaning it is deeply flawed. It risks setting conflicting goals for firms, fleecing savers and distracting from the vital task of tackling climate change. It is an unholy mess that needs to be ruthlessly streamlined.”

And indeed, it’s good to focus. “Investors and regulators are already pushing to make disclosure by firms of their emissions more uniform and universal. The more standardized they are, the easier it will be to assess which companies are large carbon culprits—and which are doing most to reduce emissions. Fund managers and banks should be better able to track the carbon footprints of their portfolios and whether they shrink over time.”

“Make no mistake, though: tougher government action is essential now.”

Turning Plastic into Innovation

Speaking of tougher government action: ‘California Requires Plastics Makers to Foot the Bill for Recycling’. “The landmark legislation also restricts single-use plastics. And because California’s economy is so big, experts say, the law could have far-reaching effects.”

It’s estimated the law will eliminate 23 million tons of plastic over the next decade.

Now, this may sound like bad news for plastic packaging manufacturers. However: “Those tracking the bill were buoyed by the comparative buy-in from industry groups, which have historically resisted producer responsibility laws. In a statement, the American Chemistry Council described the law as ‘not perfect’ but said it would work to eliminate plastic waste.”

“Recycling advocates said that they hoped the law would lead to potential innovations such as refill stations for products like detergents or beverages.”

Opportunity knocks.

This Can’t End Well. Or Can It?

“Operators are forced to defer maintenance as aging fleet is ‘run harder than it’s ever been run’,” according to ‘“Things Are Going to Break”: Texas Power Plants Are Running Nonstop’.

Power generating stations are being pushed to their limits as Texas faces a growing population, a surge in energy-hungry crypto mining, and severe weather conditions, which demands cranking either the air conditioner or the heater.

“It’s kind of like humans – we need to rest and recover. If we run full speed for a long time, we can collapse.” So, where’s the happy ending here? Well, not to toot our own horn… But haven’t they heard of Augury?

 

Read ‘Manufacturing – The News: Stay Positive, But Not Too Positive’.
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