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Lean

Environmental Benefits of Lean Methods

Lean Method Potential Environmental Benefits
Kaizen Rapid Improvement Events
  • continual improvement culture focused on eliminating waste
  • uncovering and eliminating hidden wastes and waste-generating activities
  • quick, sustained results without significant capital investment
5S (or 6S)
  • decreased lighting, energy needs when windows are cleaned and equipment is painted light colors
  • spills and leaks noticed quickly
  • decreased potential for accidents and spills with clearly-marked and obstacle-free thoroughfares
  • reduced contamination of products results in fewer product defects (which reduces energy and resource needs; avoids waste)
  • reduced floor space needed for operations and storage; potential decrease in energy needs
  • less unneeded consumption of materials and chemicals when equipment, parts, and materials are organized, easy to find; less need for disposal of expired chemicals
  • visual cues can raise awareness of waste handling/management procedures, workplace hazards, and emergency response procedures
Cellular Manufacturing
  • eliminates overproduction, thereby reducing waste and the use of energy and raw materials
  • fewer defects from processing and product changeovers- reduces energy and resource needs; avoids waste
  • defects are noticed earlier, preventing waste
  • less use of materials and energy (per unit of production) with right-sized equipment
  • less floor space needed; potential decrease in energy use and less need to construct new facilities
  • easier to focus on equipment maintenance, pollution prevention
Just-in-Time / Kanban
  • eliminates overproduction, thereby reducing waste and the use of energy and raw materials
  • less in-process and post-process inventory needed; avoids potential waste from damaged, spoiled, or deteriorated products
  • frequent inventory turns can eliminate the need for degreasing metal parts
  • less floor space needed; potential decrease in energy use and less need to construct new facilities
  • can facilitate worker-led process improvements
  • less excess inventory reduces energy use associated with transport and reorganization of unsold inventory
Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)
  • fewer defects-reduces energy and resource needs; avoids waste
  • increased longevity of equipment decreases need for replacement equipment and associated environmental impacts (energy, raw materials, etc.)
  • decreased number and severity of spills, leaks, and upset conditions – less solid and hazardous waste
Six Sigma
  • fewer defects – reduces energy and resource needs; avoids waste
  • can focus attention on reducing the conditions that result in accidents, spills, and malfunctions, thereby reducing solid and hazardous wastes
  • improving product durability and reliability can increase product lifespan, reducing environmental impact of meeting customer needs
Pre-Production Planning (3P)
  • eliminates waste at product and process design stage, similar to "Design for Environment" methods
  • nature (inherently waste free) is used as a design model
  • right-sized equipment lowers material and energy requirements for production
  • reducing the complexity of the production process ("design for manufacturability") can eliminate or streamline process steps; environmentally sensitive processes can be targeted for elimination, since they are often time-, resource-, and capital-intensive
  • less complex product designs can use fewer parts and fewer types of materials, increasing the ease of disassembly and recycling
Lean Enterprise Supplier Networks
  • magnification of environmental benefits of lean production (reduced waste through fewer defects, less scrap, less energy usage, etc.) across the network
  • environmental benefits are more broadly realized by introducing lean to existing suppliers rather than finding new, already lean suppliers