Earth Consultants

Applying Lean Six Sigma to the Environment

EC 048: How 8 Wastes Impact the Environment

4 min read

In this podcast, I share a snippet of a talk from the Master Brewers Association of America Northwest District Spring Meeting. I spoke as part of Lean Portland, along with Matt Horvat and Maria Grzanka.

The full presentation is available on podcast and video.



Our Lean Portland group was asked to speak at the Master Brewers Association of America, Northwest District spring meeting. This is May 11, 2019. I took a little snippet of my section of the presentation where I talked about the eight wastes and how it ties to environmental impacts. I think I’ve shared that before, but added a couple of different examples to that, so I thought I’d share that. It’s just a couple of minutes long, but I thought you might enjoy. Thanks.

How many of you have seen these wastes before? Some of you? Okay. One thing I thought that was really cool was that these also line up with sustainability efforts and environmental impacts as well. If you have inventory, you need space. That means you need a bigger building and if you’re building something new or expanding, that’s going to require materials. And then you’ve got to heat and maybe cool and light the space and that’s going to cost money and have an environmental impact as well. By cutting down the inventory and letting things move through your facility faster, that will require less actual space. Or you can, as we were talking about, can you modify the process to reduce the time or delay expanding or having to move to a new facility by looking at the route and flow of your work.

Another thing is transportation. If you are having to move and transport things around a lot, that may require packaging material – the plastics and wraps and cardboard boxes and containers and all those things that have a material impact. Someone’s got to make those, and there’s raw materials that are consumed and used up in that. And then you have defects and, obviously, you have to deal with the defects and dispose of it and get rid of it and that can have a cost to it as well. Or it can be sent down the drain and have to be processed and treated so there may be chemicals involved to have to deal with it.

And so when we’re waiting, things can expire and things can go bad and you can have to throw things out and so you order too early. One of the common things we run across is bulk buying and saying, “I can get a really good deal if I buy a lot of this up front.” But then if I don’t have processes that deal with it quickly, it has the risk of going bad. When we look back, we took up a lot of space to store all of this that we got a good deal on, but did we actually get the money’s worth at the end of the day or not when we had to deal with the loss that we had and the extra cost of carrying around and the money that wasn’t in our bank account was tied up in that inventory? Those are some of the questions will ask a lot.

I went to a [Habitat for Humanity] Restore yesterday and they have clothing that they’re selling out, just like Goodwill does, and so that was a big area of their whole warehouse was taken up on clothing. We were trying to help them figure out how to process those [clothes] faster so that it doesn’t take up so much space because they have lots of things coming through the door and they’re kind of getting overwhelmed in a good way. So, usually, inventory is the first thing we look for when we’re looking for opportunities, but these all are tied back to environmental impacts as well.

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