ŁEFA     Lean Manufacturing & the
                    Opportunities for Environmental Improvement
Lean manufacturing is a business model and collection of methods that focuses on the elimination of many types
of waste while delivering quality products on time and at least cost. EPA is interested in finding ways to maximize
the environmental benefits of lean.
Chris Reed
US EPA National Center for Environmental
202-566-0606, reed.chns@epa.gov
  The Lean and Environment Toolkit,
  a collaboration between EPA and its
  partners, provides practical strategies for
  using Lean to reduce environmental waste.
  Using the  tools enhances Lean results -
  waste elimination,  quality enhancement,
  delivery of value to customers -  while
  helping to  protect the environment. You
  can find more information on the toolkit
  at: http://www.epa.gov/lean/toolkit
        Lean and EroinnaitToolldt

Lean manufacturing is a business model that emphasizes eliminating
waste while delivering quality products at the least cost to the
manufacturer and customers. In this context "waste" refers to
inefficiencies of all kinds, ranging from time and movement to energy
and materials. In the U.S., lean implementation began in the 1980's in
the automotive and aerospace sectors.  Today, lean initiatives are
spreading rapidly in numerous manufacturing and service sectors.
Lean thinking focuses on three objectives:
  •    Reducing production resource requirements by minimizing
      inventory, equipment, storage and production space, and
  •    Increasing manufacturing velocity and flexibility; and
  •    Improving quality and eliminate defects.
Lean methods create a continual improvement-based, waste elimination culture
that involves workers at all levels of the organization.  Lhere are a
variety of common lean methods, including Kai^en (Japanese for
improvement) rapid improvement events, just-in-time manufacturing,
value stream mapping, total productive maintenance, cellular
production (or  synchronous, single-piece flow manufacturing). Six
Sigma is a closely related business strategy focused on maximizing

                                                            NATIONAL CENTER FOR
                                                            ENVIRONMENTAL INNOVATION

Lean and  the Environment
An October 2003 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA)  report (see http: / /www.epa.gov/innovation /lean)
examines the relationship between lean and the
environment and points out opportunities for further
enhancing organizations' environmental performance
through their lean initiatives.

Some key findings:
  •     Lean produces an operational and cultural
        environment that is highly conducive to
        waste minimisation and pollution prevention,
        Significant environmental benefits typically ride
        the coattails of lean initiatives.  The powerful
        economic and competitiveness drivers behind
        lean drive a willingness to undertake substantial
        operational and cultural changes, many of
        which have important environmental
        performance implications. Lean typically
        results in less material use, less scrap, reduced
        water and energy use, and decreased number and
        amount of chemicals used.
  •     Lean can be leveraged to produce even more
        environmental improvement.  Although lean
        currently produces environmental benefits
        and establishes a systemic, continual
        improvement-based waste elimination culture,
        lean methods do not explicitly incorporate
        environmental performance considerations,
        forgoing some environmental improvement
        opportunities. Lean provides an excellent
        platform for broadening companies' definition
        of "waste" to address environmental risk and
        product life-cycle considerations, as some lean
        practitioners have demonstrated.
  •     Some regulatory  issues can be encountered
        when applying lean to environmentally
        sensitive processes. The flexible, and rapidly
        changing operating approach used in lean
        manufacturing is quite different from traditional
        manufacturing operations and can be challenging
        to use in environmentally-sensitive manufacturing
        processes such as painting and coating.  Some lean
        practitioners believe this results in situations where
        either environmental performance improvements
        can  be constrained or the risk of non-
        compliance increases.
                •     Environmental agencies have a window of
                      opportunity - while companies are embarking on
                      lean initiatives and investments - to collaborate
                      with lean promoters to further improve the
                      environmental benefits associated with lean.
                      There is a strong and growing network of
                      organizations promoting lean.  These
                      organizations share a goal with organizations
                      promoting environmental improvement and
                      pollution prevention—both strive to eliminate
                      waste from business. At present, however, there
                      is very little coordination or collaboration between
                      the environmental and lean networks.

              EPA and Lean
              Recognizing that lean trends have implications for both
              regulatory and non-regulatory programs, EPA is working
              with lean experts, organizations implementing lean, state
              environmental agencies, and other partners to:
                •     Raise awareness about the relationship of lean
                      production to environmental performance.
                •     Share "good practices" for improving the
                      environmental benefits of lean initiatives.
                •     Develop and disseminate integrated  lean and
                      environment tools.
                •     Identify and address environmental regulatory
                      considerations associated with lean.
                •     Explore how lean techniques might  be used to
                      improve government administrative  processes
                      (e.g., permitting).
              EPA is working with partners in a number of industry
              sectors and in government agencies to document lean and
              environment success stories and to develop and test tools
              that organizations could use to maximize the
              environmental benefits of lean. In addition, EPA is
              conducting outreach about lean and the environment to
              lean practitioners and pollution prevention (P2) technical
              assistance providers.  Finally, EPA is working with states to
              apply lean techniques to streamline permitting.

              Further Information

              More information about EPA's  lean and  environment
              activities and research is available  on EPA's  Lean website:
United States
Environmental Protection
Office of Policy,
Economics and Innovation
 September 2005