The “voice of the customer” guides members of your supply chain to continue
producing, stop, speed up, or slow down. Proceeding without the authority of
this signal can result in waste from
stockpiling supplies downstream from
your own operation.
• Consider “just in time” operations.
Make only what is needed, when it is
needed, and in the amount needed.
This is also called “pull production”
because products and materials are
produced when the downstream party
requests it, instead of being pushed by
the producer. It can improve utilization and flow, and cut waste and inventory. In traditional accounting,
inventory is usually an asset; in TPS
and lean management it is a liability.
• Level out the workload to avoid stress
on workers and the production system, which can lead to sub-optimal
performance and lapses in quality.
One way to do this is to make products in smaller batches using “cellular
manufacturing”(where adaptable) instead of the traditional approach of
creating of large batches for “
economy of scale” and waiting for orders.
Lean is more than knowledge about
he above methods. People are the key to
success and they need to be united in
their awareness of, acceptance of and
participation in a lean production
culture. Innovation is more likely when
you integrate teams and solicit every
worker’s input. For example, manufacturing employees hold process knowledge that the environmental health and
safety team needs to improve conditions
by removing hazards and other wastes. The lean process doesn’t end. Strive for
continuous improvement (kaizen). Measure your progress so you know what’s
working and what needs adjusting.
WASTE NOT (continued from page 35)
Eliminate Waste from
the Ground Up
Nature’s Path was able to divert 83 percent of its waste from the landfill
through these tactics:
• Creating two employee gardens at its
facilities with on-site composters for
• Sending inaccurately filled boxes to
food banks and sending food spills
from factories to local farmers
• Composting classes for employees in
Blaine for at-home use
• Mandatory lean manufacturing training for all employees that focuses on
eliminating waste through creative
problem solving and employee
• Involvement in the Tilbury Eco-Industrial Partnership, which helps
network businesses for by-product
into the future. “Do less harm” simply
isn’t good enough—not when you
could thrive by regenerating and enriching the living systems on which
our economy depends.
The real challenge isn’t just to be
ess bad or to slow the rate of deterioration, but to actually build the regenerative capacity of the living systems
that sustain the human experience—
and to make that a normal consequence of doing business.
How much “waste” do you think is
acceptable? How much environmental
damage? How much safety risk to your
employees or community? Compare
the answer in your gut with the answer
on your balance sheet. Your job: bring
them into harmony. Here’s a clue:
you’ve got to ask the right questions.
Not “Can we?” but “How can we?” ;
This article is adapted from “The Truth
About Green Business” (0-7897-3940-2 FT
Press, May 2009) by Gil Friend. Reprinted
by permission of the publisher. © 2009 Gil
How high do you aim in your quest to “be green”? Match your competitors?
Go beyond them? Aim for carbon-neutral? Carbon-negative? Zero waste? Which
goal is the right goal? How good is good enough?
“Traditional” environmental management is focused on reducing harm—
gradually, in a public policy framework of advocacy and compromise; finding “
acceptable” levels of damage that could be reached at an “affordable” price.
But for a truly sustainable business, “good enough” means operating in a way
hat helps both the economy and earth’s living systems continue to function long
Gil Friend is founder, president and CEO of
Natural Logic Inc, ( www.natlogic.com),
providing advisory services
in strategy, design, operations and information systems to help build
Clients include Dean Foods, Equal Exchange, General Mills, Green Mountain Energy, Hewlett Packard, Levi Strauss & Co,
Nike, Odwalla, Coca-Cola, White Wave, Sun
Microsystems and many others.
Friend lectures widely on business strategy and sustainability issues and has coauthored several books on sustainable agriculture and sustainable business and is author of the just-published book The Truth
About Green Business. You can contact him
at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him at