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Applying Lean Six Sigma to the Environment

Lean and Green Quotes

Here are a list of “Lean and Green” related quotes that we have found. Please contact us if you find others that should be added to the list…

"I’m convinced our environment is going to need all the help lean can offer."
- Jim Womack, Is Lean Green?

"To the extent that improved environmental outcomes can ride the coattails of lean culture change, there is a win for business and a win for environmental improvement."
- EPA Lean Manufacturing and the Environment

"Pollution prevention may 'pay', but when associated with lean implementation efforts, the likelihood that pollution prevention will compete rises substantially."
- EPA Lean Manufacturing and the Environment

"Public environmental management agencies will be better served by being at the table with [lean] practitioners and promoters, seeking opportunities to fit environmental considerations and tools, where appropriate, into the context of operations-focused lean methods."
- - Jay Arthur, Green is Lean: Being Good For the Environment is Also Good For Your Business

"...we will not so lightly waste material simply because we can reclaim it, for salvage involves labor. The ideal is to have nothing to salvage."
- Henry Ford, Today and Tomorrow

"...[Lean] means to systemically develop people and continuously improve processes to provide value and prosperity while consuming the fewest possible resources."
- John Shook, Keynote speech to Iowa Lean Consortium on 10/2/12

"...lean’s role is to be green’s critical enabler as the massive waste in our current industrial practices is reduced to free up resources for improving product technologies and production locations for free."
- Jim Womack, Is Lean Green?

"Manufacturers in every industry have a big responsibility to fulfill in ensuring a sound environment for future generations. Along with preventing pollution and other overt damage to the environment, they need to conserve resources by using material and energy efficiently. The Toyota Production System is a framework for conserving resources by eliminating waste. People who participate in the system learn to identify expenditures of material, effort, and time that do not generate value for customers."
- Toyota Production System booklet, 1998

"It is unfortunate, and it has remained a mystery to me why the lean community, which is making it's way into industry, is not in conversation, except for this conference, with the green community. Because it is essentially the same argument, and you can't do one without the other. You're not going to succeed at either."
- Hunter Lovins, Lean and Green Conference, London, March 2011

"The potential savings are huge for every company when you tie lean and green initiatives together. It's hard to separate the two. If I am able to stop a ton of metals being poured because I fixed a process issue, then I saved a lot of energy, and that's green. There are also savings there, so they're tied together"
- Samuel Gould, Enterprise Minnesota GreenLean

"I think because of the years of kaizaning and improving our equipment, it was a very easy transition into the environmental part of the business...Each manager has a goal for the environment that they must meet as a part of their performance review. It's also part of our management bonus program, that our overall corporate goals must be met with regard to the environment."
- Jim Myers, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, from Green Lean: Achieving Outstanding Environmental Performance with Lean DVD

"We always like to say we got started dumpster diving...We actually turned over the gondolas of trash and put them in piles, separated them out by commodity, and then went looking for someone who could take that commodity for us. Things we couldn't find a recycler for, we just decided we would try to get with our vendor and see if they could change the product they were sending us, the packaging material."
- Denise Coogan, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, from Green Lean: Achieving Outstanding Environmental Performance with Lean DVD

"'s the people on the front line that are touching the products, touching the waste, that can see it. They're the ones that can come up with ideas on identifying it, saving it, and also, we have to make it easy for them, so they can just reach out and drop it in the right spot, separating it at that point."
- Dean Schroeder, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, from Green Lean: Achieving Outstanding Environmental Performance with Lean DVD

"So most companies, manufacturers at least, already have a lean program in place. They do kaizan activities, they have the machinery, they do total productive maintenance, they do 5S—people are used to making improvements. You take that engine that you've already got in place and you turn it on to Green."
- Dean Schroeder and Alan Robinson, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, from Green Lean: Achieving Outstanding Environmental Performance with Lean DVD

" be truly Green Lean, you have to involve everyone, from the bottom of the organization to the top, in constantly improving, in ways big and small, your environmental impact..."
- Alan Robinson, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, from Green Lean: Achieving Outstanding Environmental Performance with Lean DVD

"They always say that environmental programs are too expensive to put in, but not when you consider the entire program. You get the biggest bang for your buck, so to speak, in reducing the amount of waste you generate. If you don't have to pay to bring it in, you don't have to pay to have someone handle it while it's here, and you don't have to pay to have it disposed of. That's where your big savings will be."
- Denise Coogan, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, from Green Lean: Achieving Outstanding Environmental Performance with Lean DVD

"...33% of our [managers] bonus is based on environmental targets, and another 33% on safety targets, and the other 33% on quality targets, so it does motivate"
- Denise Coogan, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, from Subaru's Path To Zero Waste

"Like lean, sustainability is a journey, not a destination. It requires strong leadership, a solid commitment, and vision from management and highly engaged employees. Manufacturers that get it right will enhance the reputation of their brands, attract new customers, increase profits, and achieve new heights of success. The time to get started is now."
- Buckley Brinkman, Wisconsin MEP, from Green is the new gold for Wisconsin manufacturers

"The financial and environmental benefits exceeded our expectations, and underscore the cogent business case for sustainability. The program is projected to deliver a 31-to-1 return on the state’s investment of $1.75 million and average paybacks of about 10 months for manufacturers."
- Buckley Brinkman, Wisconsin MEP, from Green is the new gold for Wisconsin manufacturers

"The initial results show that the projects with the largest impact do not come from the traditional sustainability areas such as energy or recycling. Instead, outcomes from the initial projects suggest that transportation and operational improvements are places where manufacturers can look to find big savings, quick paybacks, and significant environmental benefits."
- Buckley Brinkman, Wisconsin MEP, from Green is the new gold for Wisconsin manufacturers

"The linear 'Take – Make – Dispose' system, which depletes natural resources and generates waste, is deeply flawed and can be productively replaced by a restorative model in which waste does not exist as such but is only food for the next cycle."
- Ellen MacArthur

"Believe in climate change. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter. But you’d better understand this: the best route to rebuilding our economy, our cities and our job markets, as well as assuring national security, is doing precisely what you’d be doing if you were scared to death about climate change."
- Hunter Lovins, from Climate Capitalism

"Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value."
- R. Buckminster Fuller

"...sustainability = happier employees and more money. Harnessing the excitement of current employees around a few simple 'green' goals is a vital first step in igniting the above evolution from 'centralized' mandate to embedded sustainable mindset."
- Kristen Joiner, from The top 3 myths about going sustainable

"Your business can't afford not to be sustainable. Your employees are your greatest resource – tap their excitement. And they'll show you where to start"
- Kristen Joiner, from The top 3 myths about going sustainable

"Waste in a system is a sign of inefficiency. Driving out waste - whether it's in the form of garbage or water, emissions, time, materials - makes good business sense"
- Liz Christiansen, University of Iowa Sustainability Director, from 2020 Vision

"People on the production line have the deep knowledge to really know what will save energy"
- Lauren Asplen, IUE-CWA union leader, from EDF Solutions: Tapping workers' know-how to save American jobs

"Energy-efficiency Treasure Hunts will give IUE-CWA [union] workers new skills to make their companies more productive and competitive. That's good for our members' job security and good for their company's bottom line."
- Jim Clark, President, IUE-CWA, from EDF: Manufacturing Energy Productivity Pilot: Promising Results

"The Treasure Hunt showed us that we can leverage the knowledge and skills of our IUE-CWA [union] workers to uncover additional cost-cutting opportunities, and these activities directly align to our factory ISO-14001 continuous improvement projects."
- Matt Jonas, Cobasys, from EDF: Manufacturing Energy Productivity Pilot: Promising Results

"Such [inefficient] practices can range from needlessly operating machinery, failing to optimize the equipment or performing tasks in the wrong sequence to making questionable decisions, such as using compressed air to clean the shop floor."
- Jerry Thompson, Sr. VP of customer solutions, Management Alternatives Ltd, from IndustryWeek: Saying Goodbye to Energy Inefficiency

"After all, anything we buy, we emit, send down the drain, burn in an incinerator or put into landfill, we pay for. If we can save it we will automatically contribute to our bottom-line. Therefore it has to make good business sense"
- Steve Hope, General Manager, Environmental Affairs and Corporate Citizenship at Toyota Motor Europe, at Lean and Green Business System book launch event

"Sustainability is simply not something you add on to a company. You can try — you can make a department, you can hire people to do that. But at the end of the day, that has nothing to do with sustainability."
- Paul Hawken, Presidio Graduate School Sustainability professor, interview on

"Too many industries rely too heavily, and unnecessarily, on top-grade drinking water from municipal treatment plants when conditioned or recycled raw and process water will do just as well."
- Linda Muroski, Director of Water Resources at BASF, Green Manufacturer

"Lean and sustainability are conceptually similar. Both seek to maximize first quality product (or first-pass yield) and margin. This is accomplished through waste and time minimization. In green language, both seek to maximize system boundary efficiency. The difference lies in where this system (or process) boundary is drawn and how, and in how waste is defined. Lean sees waste as non-value added to the customer; green sees waste as extraction and consequential disposal of resources at rates or in forms beyond that which nature can absorb."
- Dave Gustashaw and Robert W. Hall, AME Target Magazine 2008

"A Shingo Prize-winning study that EPA commissioned found that through Lean, many companies were saving money by taking steps that also benefited the environment, even when they were not consciously trying to do so"
- Mitch Kidwell, EPA, from article

"Green/lean becomes viable when manufacturers comprehend its positive impact on productivity and profitability. My premise is we won't learn how to get rid of these overhead costs until we learn to see them"
- John Connelly, Enterprise Minnesota, from Green: The new ripple of lean

"Environmentalism, sustainability isn't an activity you pick up. It's a systemic way you run your company. It's a way you think about your business..."
- Dave Rinard, Steelcase Director of Global Environmental Performance, Green Manufacturer: Steelcase as Environmental Leader

"By linking lean and green processes to performance, we can show that these processes contribute to business results. And when we do that, business leaders don't see it as an obstacle but a path. That's what makes the difference."
- Dave Rinard, Steelcase Director of Global Environmental Performance, Green Manufacturer: Steelcase as Environmental Leader

"The key to achieving safe, sustainable, and profitable operations are integrating and leveraging Lean methodologies in all areas of the business."
- Dennis Averill, Lean Sustainability: Creating Safe, Enduring, and Profitable Operations

"Lean production and environmental sustainability share the same overall goals and objectives: to eliminate waste, to maximize the use of resources, and to achieve long-term efficient operations."
- Dennis Averill, Lean Sustainability: Creating Safe, Enduring, and Profitable Operations

"Environmental sustainability or 'Green' efforts make business sense because they focus on the efficient use of resources, which has a positive and salutary effect on an organization's finances."
- Dennis Averill, Lean Sustainability: Creating Safe, Enduring, and Profitable Operations

"Sound environmental performance - managed in the right way - drives costs down, revenues up and increases shareholder value."
- John Elkington and Oliver Dudok van Heel, The Sustainability Advantage

"Managers should look at environmental problems as business issues. They should make environmental investments for the same reasons they make other investments: because they expect them to deliver positive returns or reduce risks."
- Forest Reinhardt, The Sustainability Advantage

"When viewed within the context of sustainable development, environmental concerns become not just a cost of doing business, but a potent source of competitive advantage. Enterprises that embrace the concept can effectively realize the advantages: more efficient processes, improvements in productivity, lower costs of compliance, and new strategic market opportunities. Such business may expect to reap advantages over their competitors who lack vision. Companies that fail to change can expect to become obsolete."
- Stephan Schmidheiny, The Sustainability Advantage

"Zero emissions, self-sufficient energy production, zero waste, and helping to restore the social and environmental health of the planet would be powerful vision elements for a company."
- Bob Willard, The Sustainability Advantage

"Therefore, if corporations are interested in attracting and retaining the best talent and in unleashing their creative and productive potential through intrinsic motivation, visibly committing to corporate social and environmental responsibility could yield this competitive edge."
- Bob Willard, The Sustainability Advantage

"No corporation can be truly innovative until everyone in the company has adopted an environmentalist attitude."
- Edgar Wollard, Chairman and CEO of DuPont, The Sustainability Advantage

"Eight recent case studies of people working in well-designed, energy efficient buildings measured labor productivity gains of 6% to 16%."
- Paul Hawken, Amory and L. Hunter Lovins, A Roadmap for Natural Capitalism, Harvard Business Review

"...93% of the material we buy and 'consume' never end up in saleable products at all. Moreover, 80% of the products are discarded after a single use, and many of the rest are not as durable as they should be."
- U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Factor Four: Doubling Wealth, Halving Resource Use

"...the 3M Company's Pollution Prevention Pays (3P) corporate-wide program, launched in 1995, rewards creative employees who design pollution prevention projects, encourages sharing good ideas, reports results to all employees, and has saved the company well over $750 million since its inception in 1975."
- Bob Willard, The Sustainability Advantage

"Global corporations are part of the global ecology and are dependent on it. No environment, no consumers in society, no business."
- Bob Willard, The Sustainability Advantage

"If we focus on reducing the environmental wastes, we can't do that without also reducing the Lean wastes. But the reverse may not always be true. So we should focus on reducing the environmental wastes."
- Ian Young, Using Green to Re-energize Lean

"Lean Thinking must be 'green' because it reduces the amount of energy and wasted by-products required to produce a given product...Indeed, examples are often cited by reducing human effort, space, and scrap by 50 percent or more, per product produced, through applying Lean principles in an organization...Lean's role is to be green's critical enabler as the massive waste in our current practices is reduced."
- Jim Womack

"So what's the difference [Lean vs Lean and Green]? Well apart from the fact that individual customers are multiplied to become society and the environmental wastes have a slightly different character than the traditional lean wastes, not a lot."
- Peter Hines, SA Partners, Lean & Green article in Cranfield University Lean newsletter

"If the products and services that make you money are not environmentally-friendly, then you are not a 'green' company"
- Brion Hurley

"Of one thing we can be sure; energy will be more challenging and more important in the future. Will you, and your business, be ready?"
- Peter Schwartz, Chairman, Global Business Network

"[#4 of 14 key principles] End the practice of awarding business on the basis of a price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust."
- Dr. W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis

"The lean and green mindset not only includes the traditional seven lean wastes, but also incorporates energy and material efficiency plus use of safer chemicals to identify and reduce the total cost of production from raw material extraction to the product's end of life."
- Sustainable Manufacturers: Sustainability 101

"Eco cars are the product of eco plants and eco people"
- Lean Blog Audio Podcast #11 recap of Toyota Plant Tour

"Lean is really the ultimate green vehicle"
- Paul Akers, author of 2 Second Lean and owner of FastCap

"Because it is much like lean both in concept and practice, sustainability can be thought of as lean extended to a much broader objective"
- Gary Langenwalter in "Life" is Our Ultimate Customer: From Lean to Sustainability

"...the adoption of some key Sustainability practices by Lean manufacturers could significantly impact these organizations' efforts to reduce costs and otherwise improve overall Lean Results metrics"
- Lean and sustainability programs: evidence of operational synergy for lean manufacturers and logical growth toward sustainability

"...manufacturers recognized for successful lean implementation were more apt to effectively integrate an eco-friendly mind-set into their business practices."
- Manufacturing Goes Lean and Green

"Many companies were found to have naturally extended objectives of green-focused management, waste reduction and production results — basically, with lean comes green."
- Manufacturing Goes Lean and Green

Watch the recorded webinars from the 2-course series called "Lean Six Sigma for Environmental Professionals": Introduction to Process Improvement and Tools for Process Improvement

Download PPT slides from "Lean Six Sigma and the Environment" Overview course


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“In the early years, MEPs focused on lean manufacturing, but they were starting to hear from their clientele about jumping on green. That’s why we formed the Green Suppliers Network. It seemed like a natural progression to combine lean and green.” - Tom Murray, former EPA Senior Science Advisor, Sustainable Manufacturer Conference

"The biggest opportunity area for lean thinking, design, engineering and management is in the coming race towards a low-carbon economy. As the pressure builds to drive carbon out of every aspect of our economies, we will see growing interest in the offerings of clean energy insurgents and in the carbon productivity approach..." - Breakthrough Business Models: Exponentially More Social, Lean, Integrated and Circular

"While many of them [best companies in Australia] have been using Lean concepts to improve their performance, they have found that focusing on sustainability has supercharged their efforts and inspired a new wave of innovation from their employees"
- Ian Young, Using Green to Re-energize Lean

"Being a Lean organization doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a sustainable organization; but you can’t be a sustainable organization without being Lean."
- Ian Young, Using Green to Re-energize Lean

"Last year, one award winner had told their staff they wanted to put together teams to work on environmental issues. They had 35 out of 100 people volunteer!"
- Ian Young, Using Green to Re-energize Lean

"So instead of focusing on the Lean things, they focused on the ‘green’ things; they halved and then nearly halved again the waste in that process that was going to a landfill. But what happened to all the Lean metrics, and throughput? Well, they got better too! Everyone focused on doing the best possible change-overs once they understood that most of the wasted material was because of a ‘not-so-good’ process."
- Ian Young, Using Green to Re-energize Lean

"If you target and achieve the green outcomes to reduce consumption, you can’t help but pick up the Lean outcomes too."
- Ian Young, Using Green to Re-energize Lean

"If you’re not doing Lean, or your improvements have flattened off, give it a rest – but focus on Green and sustainability instead. You can’t become Green without being Lean.’"
- Ian Young, Using Green to Re-energize Lean

New Online Course - Lean Six Sigma and the Environment (FREE)

Lean Six Sigma Sustainability Books

"I urge upon the youth, in particular our small entrepreneurs that they would never compromise, at least on two counts. First, ZERO DEFECT and second, ZERO EFFECT. We should manufacture goods in such a way that they carry zero defect; that our exported goods are never returned to us. We should manufacture goods with zero effect that they should not have a negative impact on the environment." - Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Zero Defect Zero Effect (ZED)

“Careful attention to safety and the environment is one of the guiding principles of Toyota, and the company intends to work within the new charter to protect the environment at all stages of operations, from product development and design to manufacturing, marketing, and final disposal...We at Toyota have prepared this Earth Charter as a framework for stepped-up efforts in the name of safeguarding the natural environment...The time has come, however, for us at Toyota to redouble our commitment to safeguarding the environment”
-Toyota Earth Charter, 1992

"My definition of Lean is to employ minimum resources for the maximum benefits. Therefore, Kaizen leads to Lean, and Lean leads to green. Kaizen is the most environmentally-friendly approach."
- Masaaki Imai, foreword to the book, "Healthcare Kaizen"

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