Challenges to Sustainability in the Filtration Industry

Sustainability is a driving force of change in our industry, not just for ourselves but also for our customers. For businesses with disposable products who are looking towards the future, improving sustainability is important. Discover the key sustainability challenges and what we’re doing to tackle them.

Reducing our environmental footprint is vital

When we talk about sustainability, the filtration industry discusses how filters help remove environmental pollution and enable green energy processes. This is undoubtedly true and a vital part of our shared journey towards a greener planet, but the challenges in our industry itself are hard to overcome.

The energy required to operate filtration systems, the sourcing and supply of products, and the filtration materials and filters themselves all impact the environment.

And the need for change is now.

The situation is unsustainable…

We currently produce about 400m tonnes of plastic waste every year.

…businesses want to change…

91% of decision makers in the engineering sector consider sustainability when making business decisions.

…and they want suppliers to change, too.

78% of manufacturers see their supplier’s focus on sustainability as important or very important.

Consumer behaviour is leaning towards more sustainable habits. 43% of consumers value a business's effort to reduce their carbon footprint. And an equal percentage choose brands with circular practices that keep products and materials in use for as long as possible and regenerate natural systems. 

Additionally, 83% of executive-level managers believe business alignment with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors will contribute more to a company's value in five years than today. If you want to maintain your reputation in tomorrow's world, you can't afford to overlook areas of your business where processes aren't 'green' enough. 

Mitigating risk is another reason many companies are prioritising sustainable filtration. These must be considered and may be more of a motivation than the potential benefits.

Major companies now impose specific sustainability requirements on their downstream suppliers in corporate purchasing. A prime example of this is the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), where supply chain members increasingly request environmental performance data from their primary suppliers.

The CDP, boasting a substantial collective purchasing power of over US $5.5 trillion and comprising 200-plus global members, strives for increased transparency across the supply chain. Noncompliant suppliers risk losing their status as preferred suppliers.

As if that weren't enough, regulatory mandates are intensifying, further complicating compliance. Manufacturers face mounting pressure from national, regional, and global regulations, as well as voluntary standards geared towards:

  • Enhancing energy efficiency
  • Curbing carbon emissions
  • Minimising water usage
  • Reducing waste generation
  • Disclosing detailed environmental performance metrics

These factors make sustainability efforts increasingly intricate and vital for filter manufacturers to navigate effectively.

The drive for change comes from many sources and it will take time. In this paper, we identify the key challenges our industry faces and give some insight into the steps we’re taking to improve sustainability.

"Amazon Filters takes a resolute stance on sustainability. Pursuing cleaner and greener technologies is not just an option but our obligation to safeguard our planet's future. By delivering innovative and eco-friendly filtration solutions, we strive to inspire positive change, ensuring a harmonious coexistence between industry and the environment for future generations."

Neil Pizzey, Managing Director, Amazon Filters

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3 key challenges to sustainability in the filtration industry


Reducing waste

Reducing waste is one of the biggest sustainability challenges in the filtration industry. From product manufacturing to packaging and transportation, every step presents opportunities to reduce waste and improve sustainability. But in a world where economic pressures limit ambition, it can be difficult to overcome challenges to reducing waste, such as:

  • Cost of waste management

  • Contamination of manufacturing materials

  • Finding the right solutions and partners

  • Employee training

  • The logistics of recycling

On the customer side, we need to find ways to improve the lifecycle and total lifetime costs of disposable filtration products.


Because the most effective way to reduce our carbon footprint is to have optimised processes that use the least number of filters and thus, create the least amount of waste.


Saving energy

Manufacturing processes use roughly one-third of the world’s energy. As such, even lower-intensity segments, like filtration, can significantly impact global sustainability goals. By reducing waste and water usage, adjusting energy loads, lowering heating requirements, and embracing carbon-neutral manufacturing, the filtration industry has the potential to drive measurable sustainability outcomes.

Energy efficiency improvements are increasingly mandated by licensing authorities and customers, so now is the time to take action. Of course, the best way to save energy is not to use it, but that’s easier said than done in industries that rely on multi-stage, codependent processes – make a cut here and pay the cost there.

The key challenge to energy saving is visibility. How do you know which processes demand the most energy and what factors influence that demand?


Supply chain

To step up their sustainability pursuits, filter manufacturers must also understand the impact of their distribution practices. This aspect becomes particularly critical as the filtration industry heavily relies on shipping and road freight.

Consider this: The shipping industry currently contributes approximately 2.7% of global CO2 emissions, with significant concentrations along East-West trade routes. Bulk carriers, oil tankers, and container ships account for 85% of all shipping activity. At the same time, road freight accounts for around 9% of global CO2 emissions. The United States, Europe, China, and India are responsible for more than half of these emissions.

To support ambitious global decarbonisation efforts, manufacturers must meticulously assess various factors within their supply chains. These include the distance travelled, geographic coverage, predictability, repeatability of routes, and, especially for road freight, the number and length of breaks taken.


Case Study

Sterile filtration of biotech fermenter off-gas

Amazon Filters recently helped a multi-national pharmaceutical company at one of their sites where they produce an API by microorganism fermentation.

Due to the need for very high air flows and very low pressure drops, the Off-Gas systems consist of large multi-round housings. Depending on the size of the fermenter, they contain either 20” or 30” cartridges. The filters need to operate for as long as possible. Consequently, selecting a filter that demonstrates longevity is imperative. It also needs to demonstrate it can provide sterile air and withstand multiple steam cycles without harming performance, which could ultimately damage the fermentation process.

We identified that our SupaPore THB cartridge would match or exceed the existing filter's specification and supplied a 'like for like' in terms of size and fit.

After long-term testing, the proven benefits to the client were lower unit costs and a 30% reduction in the clean pressure loss. This lower pressure drop is a significant benefit as it reduces energy costs associated with compressing and temperature-controlling large volumes of air.

Due to the high number of filters used each year, the customer had stipulated precise packaging requirements, and Amazon Filters could meet that demand. We provided double-bagged, double-labelled filters with a unique bulk supply, in a reusable outer package. Another significant benefit for the customer is that we can offer shorter lead times and more flexibility in ordering patterns by utilising local inventory.


Solutions to the sustainability challenges in filtration

There are no easy solutions to the challenges of sustainability. And the industry must adopt them across the board and across the supply chain. But, fundamentally, we need to be doing more with less.

  • Improving processes to optimise filtration and reduce energy

  • Extending the lifecycle of filters so that less material is used

  • Investing in greener materials for products and packaging

  • Developing better, more efficient products and processes that maximise filter life and reduce consumable waste

  • Expanding visibility of energy and resource use, both internally and across the supply chain


Improved filtration processes

It’s not just about having a greener filter. Filtration impacts the entire production chain, so making a small improvement to your process leads to marginal gains across your production line that result in significant energy savings. Better processes also optimise production costs and improve the quality of the end product.

For example, reducing pressure loss in gas filtration minimises the cost of compressing and temperature-controlling large volumes of air.

Reducing the usage of filter consumables with a correctly sized filter can reduce the landfill generated by filtration processes. In addition to the money you save, this is one of the most effective ways to improve sustainability – use fewer filters.

We work with our clients to ensure filters are correctly sized. This extends their life and reduces the number of used filters sent to the landfill. To give you an idea of how much this saves, an effective process with the right filter can result in 3x less landfill waste.

How correct filter sizing reduces your carbon footprint-white

Filtration process resources


More sustainable filter production

In addition to improving filtration processes, there’s a lot we can do to get our houses in order.

Lean principles and efficient waste management improve the manufacturing processes that produce filters.

At Amazon Filters, we store and sell the waste produced in the manufacturing of filters (such as off-cuts of filter material) and recycle them for use in lower-spec products such as coat hangers and crates.

We’ve also installed solar panels that generate energy for the National Grid, reducing our reliance on conventional energy sources. We’re even reducing how much energy we use in our factories and offices by installing timers on air-con controls to optimise use and managing our cargo unit doors to maintain efficient heating and cooling.

  • Installing LED lights
  • Fitting new insulation and compressors
  • Preventative maintenance schedules to extend the lifecycle of equipment

The Waste Hierarchy

The Waste Hierarchy is a model that ranks waste management priorities according to what's best for the environment. It features five stages:
waste hierarchy


Greener packaging materials

While robust packaging is essential for damage-free delivery, it can also be highly wasteful. We can reduce this waste by keeping the packaging used in high-volume shipments to a minimum. This might involve wrapping items in bundles rather than individually, and packing them together in larger quantities so fewer boxes are required.

The packaging should be made of recyclable cardboard, rather than plastic. At Amazon Filters, we've seen how big of an environmental impact this can have. We reduced CO2 by 33,500kg in 2020 by using and recycling cardboard packaging. That's the equivalent of 32,359 trees planted.

5 simple ways to improve filter packaging


1. Reduce packaging by supplying multiple filters in a box rather than each filter being individually boxed‭.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬


2. Reduce the gauge of polyethylene packaging film.


3. Recycle all the packaging you receive from suppliers‭.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬


4. Explore new materials for packaging derived from renewable plant-based sources‭.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬


5. Replace plastic-based packaging ‬with paper-based alternatives‭.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬


Better products

In many ways, sustainability begins at the filter design stage. Rapid prototyping that drives quick and able R&D can help us realise sustainability benefits by modifying existing products. Beyond generating less material waste, we must explore ways to reduce our reliance on environmentally-detrimental materials.

There are many examples of new product formulations. The automotive industry has largely switched to waterborne paints and coatings, vastly reducing volatile organic compounds emissions (VOCs). Beyond reducing human health hazards, this switch can yield considerable environmental benefits. How long will it be before the filtration industry can move to greener plastics and similar alternatives to manufacture our disposable filters?

We’re experimenting with filters made from more environmentally responsible materials, such as polymers derived from vegetable or starch sources or recycled materials as part of our internal R&D.


Improved visibility of our sustainability

There are a range of strategies that filter manufacturers can consider to drive ongoing progress in this regard, but ultimately, it comes down to capturing and structuring data. This requires expanding filter production capabilities, using IoT (Internet of Things) technology to read and measure process efficiencies and using machine learning to optimise them.

From a road freight perspective, companies could use digital technologies and data analytics to optimise their loads. Currently, the largest opportunity for most filter manufacturers is in domestic transport and developing markets, where empty miles are often twice as high as on international routes in developed markets.


Partnering for a greener future

Customers are keen to impress their ESG responsibilities onto their suppliers to create long-term, sustainable supply chains. This drives filter manufacturers to take these initiatives seriously and carefully weigh the cost of making positive environmental changes in the face of economic pressures.

We seek to lead by example – to protect and preserve our environment by providing support and advice to those who need it, and by ensuring that we take steps to minimise waste and avoid pollution in our manufacturing plants. We will endeavour to achieve this by:

  • Ensuring that we comply fully with the current environmental legislation, regulations and codes of practice that are appropriate to our business.

  • Implementing waste minimisation programs and recycling initiatives wherever practical in our facilities.

  • Implementing environmentally friendly manufacturing and product technologies wherever technically and economically feasible.

  • Setting objectives for improvement as part of our Management Review of the Environmental Management System and monitoring progress towards them throughout the year.

  • Advising any interested parties of our policy and offering advice and information as appropriate.

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Use less, do more

Effective process filtration plays a role in reducing an organisation’s carbon footprint. But, using filtration technologies to improve wider sustainability initiatives doesn't solve our industry's inherent sustainability challenges.

Packaging, processes, products, and supply chains need to improve to meet the growing demand for greener, more sustainable solutions that support the essential infrastructures we continue to rely on.

Being sustainable is a commitment to making responsible decisions that will reduce your impact on the world. It's not just about reducing waste. It's about developing processes that will enable you to maintain efficient, environmentally-friendly practices long-term.


Save time and money with Amazon Filters

Optimising your filtration process is critical to reducing downtime and increasing revenue‭. ‬We can assess your existing filtration solutions and‭ ‬offer expert advice‭ ‬and manufacturing to improve your process‭. ‬

Why us?

For over 35 years, our team of experts has designed, manufactured, and installed innovative filtration solutions for businesses worldwide.

Today, we’re one of the world’s leading filter manufacturers supported by years of industry knowledge, we deliver high-quality, reliable, and accredited filtration solutions to your exact specifications.

We help you focus on producing high-quality products and services, and worry less about the filtration process.

  • Exceptional project turn-around times

  • Competitive, cost-effective pricing

  • Industry leading technology

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