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The Lean and Chemicals Toolkit
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The Lean and Chemicals Toolkit

Purpose of This Toolkit

This Lean and Chemicals Toolkit offers Lean implementers practical strategies and techniques for improving common Lean results related to time, cost, and quality while also reducing risk and enhancing environmental performance related to all aspects of chemical manufacturing, management and use. This toolkit is intended to introduce Lean practitioners from chemical manufacturing companies, companies that use chemicals in their products and/or production processes, and small businesses that use chemicals on an incidental basis to strategies for identifying and eliminating chemical “waste” and risk as part of Lean. Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) professionals at these companies will also find useful information in this toolkit. Finally, the toolkit introduces Lean practitioners to the wide array of chemical waste management information and resources available from EPA and other organizations.

The “Lean” methods discussed in this toolkit are organizational improvement methods pioneered in the Toyota Production System. Lean production and Lean manufacturing refer to a customer-focused business model and collection of methods that focus on the elimination of waste (non-value added activity) while delivering quality products on time and at a low cost. The toolkit assumes that you are familiar with Lean methods. For those who want to learn more about Lean, see EPA’s Lean and Environment website.

Key Questions Addressed by This Toolkit

Lean works well when it focuses on identifying and eliminating waste. Environmental improvement and chemical reduction efforts that could distract Lean efforts from this prime focus may not get much traction. By contrast, this toolkit contains strategies and techniques that can enable Lean practitioners to easily identify chemical wastes and improvement opportunities alongside the myriad other wastes and improvement opportunities uncovered by Lean. To accomplish these objectives, the toolkit aims to answer the following questions:

How to Use the Toolkit

The Lean and Chemicals Toolkit uses icons to help you find and follow important information in each chapter.

Key Point

Key Point
Identifies an important
point to remember.

Key Term

Key Term
Defines an important
term or concept.

New Tool

New Tool
Presents a technique
or resource that helps
capture, communicate, or
apply new knowledge.

Caution icon

Highlights a potential
problem that could arise
without close attention.

Chapters also include one or more “To Consider” text boxes that contain questions to help you explore how the information relates to your organization.

What is the relationship between Lean and chemicals?
By eliminating manufacturing wastes, such as unnecessary chemical use, and improving management of chemicals, businesses can reduce costs and risk, while better meeting customer needs. In addition, companies that eliminate harmful chemicals from their products can gain potential market advantage from eco-labeling and certification programs. Chapter 1 describes the benefits of learning to see chemical wastes as part of Lean implementation and combining Lean and chemical use reduction efforts. Chapter 2 provides background information on chemical manufacturing, management, and use.

How can one reduce chemical wastes using Lean events?
A key step in effective Lean and chemical efforts is learning to see chemical wastes in the context of Lean methods and identifying where to target chemical reduction activities. Chapter 3 examines specific techniques for using Lean methods to identify and eliminate chemical wastes. Methods examined in this chapter include value stream mapping and kaizen events.

How can one improve chemical management in Lean workspaces?
Lean implementation can bring significant changes to how work is configured in the workplace and, as a result, to how chemicals are managed. Chapter 4 describes how Lean strategies such as cellular manufacturing, just-in-time delivery, and “right-sizing” affect chemical management, and presents Lean approaches to chemical and hazardous waste management. Chapter 5 examines workspace-level opportunities to eliminate chemical wastes, focusing on Lean methods such as point-of-use storage, 6S (5S + Safety), visual controls, and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM).

How can Lean design tools be used to reduce chemical costs and risks?
Lean design methods offer a powerful way to reduce chemical use and risk in products and processes. By asking the right questions related to chemicals during Lean design efforts, organizations can better design products and processes that reduce costs and risk while also meeting customer needs. Chapter 6 provides an overview of Lean design tools—such as 3P, Quality Function Deployment, and Design for Manufacturing and Assembly—and describes opportunities for integrating chemical considerations and environmental design principles.

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