LEAN to Green Sustainability

What is Lean to 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 Co. 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, because environmental wastes and pollution are not the primary focal points, these gains may not be maximised 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.

Beyond Lean toward Green

Integrating manufacturing excellence with the Business of Sustainability

Excellence programs have long focussed on the elimination of waste from our processes. The implementation of manufacturing best practice leads us towards sustainability. The focus of improvement programs can be expanded to include and embrace sustainability themes, and equally the tools and techniques of lean manufacturing can be adapted and applied to sustainability improvement projects.

An emphasis on sustainability can improve the performance of an organisation and build on lean manufacturing programs by extending the emphasis on waste elimination and the involvement of employees in improvement initiatives.

In the future, as the cost of material and energy continues to increase and becomes a larger component of the cost of manufacturing (currently up to 70% or more), organisations will need to adopt sustainability strategies.

Tools and Techniques

A range of tools and techniques have been developed.

  • Draw a Value Stream Map of the material conversion processes or water usage
  • Undertake a Mass Balance of all energy and materials into and out of a process
  • Conduct a material waste assessment of your organisations
  • Develop a Waste Reduction Action Plan (WRAP)
  • Assess requirements and prepare for Waste wise accreditation
  • Create a Deployment Chart to demonstrate the link between specific improvement initiatives and a Sustainability strategy that links with the other strategic goals of the organisation


Companies who have applied Lean to Green programs have achieved the following results :

Lean to Green

  • Reduction landfill by 80 %
  • Reduction energy consumption by 35 %
  • Reduction in carbon footprint per unit by 35 %
  • Reduction water consumption by over 50 %
  • Reduction landfill waste from 120 to 90cubic cubic meters per month.

Ian Young’s Sustainable Scorecard

0 1 2 Score
The % of all incoming materials converted into saleable product (by mass ) 75%>95%
The % of raw materials recycled, or made from other companies by-products 50%>80%
The number of 5R suggestions implemented ( per employee ) in the past 6 months None 1 – 3 >3
Our Products and services assist our customers to become more sustainable Not at all Partially Totally
We monitor for all products and processes the Total cost of non-conformance None Some All

Your Sustainable Organisation Rating …………… / 10


For more information on Lean to Green sustainability, call Lean Australia on 61 (02) 9683 6200 or email admin@performancedrivers.com.au.


Performance Drivers Consortium nurtures world class capability and business performance. Meetings focus on the deployment of new and relevant operational performance improvement tools such as Lean Enterprise.

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