Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Overview of the ASTM Sustainable Manufacturing Standards

To understand these projects, it's helpful to understand sustainable manufacturing more broadly, its relationship to a circular economy, and why we need standards to support both.

Sustainable Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry supports development and feeds, clothes, and shelters the world’s growing population (Frosch and Gallopoulos 1989), but it uses tremendous amounts of resources. Transitioning to more sustainable, efficient manufacturing processes can benefit both the environment and the manufacturer’s bottom line. Moving towards this better system requires that companies accurately measure their energy and material use, as well as environmental impacts, at each step in the life cycles of their products. These assessments can be difficult, costly, and time consuming, but NIST and ASTM International are creating science-based, systematic standards to overcome these challenges.

Find more information on NIST and ASTM International’s work on sustainable manufacturing.

Circular Economy in Manufacturing

Sustainable manufacturing is a system that uses multiple manufacturing strategies, one of which is a circular economy. A circular economy is defined by keeping materials and products in the economy and out of “unwanted sinks” like landfills and incinerators. The manufacturing industry is vital to creating a circular economy because it makes key decisions about, for example, how a product is designed, the materials used, how long that product will last, operations, the supply chains involved in the production process, and what happens to the product once it’s reached the end of its useful life. Like sustainable manufacturing more broadly, manufacturers need a variety of measurement and data tools and standards to effectively transition their industry to a circular economy.

The Roles of Standards

Standards provide guidelines, rules, and characteristics that entire industries can agree on. They generally contain definitions, technical specifications, or other criteria designed to be used by stakeholders, thus increasing the reliability and effectiveness of goods and services. This includes, for example, terminology standards (e.g., an agreed upon definition of a circular economy), best practices (e.g., how to clean certain manufacturing equipment to increase its longevity), and more. Standards are critical for the transition to a circular economy because they…

  1. Inform, implement, and bridge regulations;
  2. Increase transparency and trust; and
  3. Support market development.
Green gear banner
Credit: ArtsyBee
Created August 25, 2016, Updated September 8, 2022