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Lean and Green Assistance


Lean Manufacturing’s Promise – Production Transformation

PPRC’s Promise – Environmental Performance

Today, both promises can be kept.

The Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) is committed to promoting improved environmental operations via lean manufacturing activities. Our goal is to be a networking and referral hub for lean and environment, serving the lean community in the Northwest.

Simultaneously combining lean and environmental efforts has boosted lean results for many U.S. companies, including three Washington manufacturers. Here are just a few of results from the lean and environment pilot projects completed in Washington State:

  • Avoided filing for a Title V air permit by reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) releases;
  • Reduced energy costs by $99,000 annually;
  • Reduced hazardous waste by over 60,000 pounds annually;
  • Reduced fiberglass overspray by about 60% (for one product line);
  • Reduced solid waste by over 500,000 pounds annually;
  • Eliminated one source of wastewater generation, for an annual savings of $17,000;
  • Increased staff environmental awareness so this knowledge and experience can be applied during future improvement efforts.

PPRC will provide free assistance to lean professionals to identify environmental opportunities that are synergistic and complementary to lean, and can further increase bottom line savings.

What is Lean and Green?

Lean production and lean manufacturing refer to the use of systematic methods to reduce costs by eliminating wastes and non-value added activities, while delivering what the customer wants, on time. Lean manufacturing was originally developed by the Toyota Motor Company in Japan based on concepts pioneered by Henry Ford, and is now being applied beyond mass production, into service-oriented businesses, agencies, and offices.

Even without explicitly targeting environmental outcomes, lean efforts can yield substantial environmental benefits. However, since environmental wastes and pollution are not the primary focal points, these gains may not be maximized in the normal scheme of lean.

The two strategies can be integrated and offered simultaneously. The approaches have similarities, in that they strive to eliminate non-value-added components, assess baseline conditions and operations, capture the details of process inputs and outputs, and strategize to design, and incorporate changes that will reduce environmental or productivity inefficiencies.

How has Lean and Green Been Applied?

The U.S. EPA, Washington Department of Ecology, NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership programs in several states, and the Green Suppliers Network have recently begun integrating environment into lean projects and are achieving great improvements in productivity and environmental performance. These projects have incorporated the analysis of waste, pollution, and toxicity, while increasing environmental awareness during traditional lean training, value stream mapping, and kaizen events. See case studies.

How PPRC’s Lean and Green Service Works

This service is for lean professionals in the Northwest. If you are working on lean projects and feel that your business or industry could benefit from adding green to your lean efforts, email us at leangreen@pprc.org.

Below are the typical steps throughout the lean and green assistance process, however, each project varies to suit the needs of the client:

  • PPRC provides an initial environmental checklist specific to the industry and process(es), and a list of relatively strategies to incorporate environmental thinking within the lean activities.
  • During initial lean activities, PPRC reviews any relevant lean and environmental information, and/or observes the events or tours the facility, to determine any additional environmental opportunities.
  • The facility and lean provider, along with PPRC, evaluate which, if any possible opportunities warrant further investigation for feasibility.
  • PPRC conducts the external interviews, technology reviews, product reviews, regulatory issues, or other research necessary to determine the feasibility of the opportunity for the facility. This research may involve talking with industry experts available in the P2Rx network [link www.p2rx.org], technical assistance providers (TAPs) within government agencies or other resources, and researching products or equipment with suppliers.
  • PPRC assists in quantifying potential and actual environmental cost savings;
  • [Optional] PPRC documents and publicizes lean and environmental successes for the company.

EPA’s E3 Program

The E3 (Economy, Energy, and Environment) Initiative is a coordinated federal and local technical assistance initiative to help manufacturers adapt and thrive in a new business era focused on sustainability. The program focuses on lean, clean, energy and greenhouse gas emissions. Read more about the E3 Initiative and learn about E3 in the Pacific Northwest.

Other Lean and Environment Resources

View a collection of projects, case studies, tools and other resources as well as organizations involved in Lean and the Environment.

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