Canadian Manufacturing

Tackling the seven green wastes

by Lisa Wichmann   

Manufacturing Economy efficiency Sustainability

Toronto: Though sustainability is firmly established in certain industries, not everyone in manufacturing is convinced.

“A lot of people still see green as tree huggers and hippies out west; or something that’s nice to do in good times,” said Brett Wills, senior consultant with High Performance Solutions Inc. in Kitchener, Ont.

A former plant manager, Wills helps manufacturers and other companies become more responsible.

In a presentation at Canadian Manufacturing Week recently, he said it’s useful to think of green the same way as lean.


Just as lean has a value stream map, manufacturers can use a “green value stream map” to tackle what he calls the seven green wastes: energy, water, materials, garbage, transportation, emissions and biodiversity.

Each of the seven wastes has a symbol plant managers can use to create a graphic breakdown of their facility’s consumption.

Energy is a great place to start, Wills said. He advised plant managers to check if they’re using excessive amount of energy—more than required to run production. Secondly, is the energy from a source that has a negative impact on the environment? Finally, are they paying for the energy?

Wills says in as little as five years, manufacturers will be harnassing clean energy—and getting it for free, minus the initial investment in equipment.

As for quick hits, Wills suggested lighting. “Lighting has the quickest return [on investment] and it’s where you can get cost savings,” he said.

He recalls seeing one facility where 400 watt lights were always on, shining on a top shelf full of boxes. “Taking out a 400 watt metal halide bulb could save $400 a year,” he said.

Other common culprits are computers left on at night; holes in air compressors; dock doors left open, and devices drawing power even when turned off, such as office photocopiers.

Turning all the machines on at once in the morning should also be avoided, as a gradual start-up would yield more favorable demand-share pricing.

“You can get results today without investing a lot of money or spending a lot of time. It’s just knowing what to look for and getting your employees to look for it too,” he concluded.


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