Green Value Stream Mapping

Similar to how value stream mapping has helped many to understand and identify waste from a business viewpoint, mapping the green value stream will also help them surface environmental issues to address. A green value stream map provides evidence for challenging current conditions, processes and the lack of plans for not only a changing work environment, but an evolving business reality that sustainability can offer companies huge benefits and opportunities.

Finding Green Waste:

When conducting green value stream mapping, it is appropriate to mirror the traditional lean wastes by identifying the main environmental or green wastes in the business or organization. As lean principles recommend, one should seek the facts, measure impact, define each challenge and focus teams on relevant testing experiments to conduct. Some issues are difficult to solve or outside the team’s control, so they should be supported by processes and stakeholders to escalate those issues to be addressed in a more systemic way.

The types of green waste provide a framework to apply lean thinking to achieve environmental sustainability goals. Below are the typical areas to focus on when working to identify green wastes.

Evaluate the current form of energy for the facility and consider if there are alternatives that may be cleaner, more efficient, most cost effective or derive from a renewable resource.

Understand if the company’s manufacturing or other industrial processes require fresh water or whether treated or recycled water is sufficient and could be utilized more effectively.

Examine the materials used and and how they are involved in the process. Include the various segments of the supply chain that delivers the raw materials to your facility in the study. Fully define also any waste or pollution generated from product and service development and what processes are in place to deal with those in an environmentally friendly way or if they can be designed out somehow so the costs related to disposal can be reinvested.

Identify the cycle and impact the trash produced at your facility has once it is picked up. With this knowledge mapped out, initiatives can be developed and implemented by the company or in collaboration with other organizations. What can be recycled or re-used can be defined and processes can be set up to ensure the remainder of the trash is disposed of in a safe and responsible way.

Transportation will look familiar to those used to the traditional lean wastes. In this instance, transportation is also a significant cause of pollution. Air quality issues are a primary concern, but also potential spills of dangerous materials like we have seen in the recent news are important considerations. Study the supply chain and see how raw materials get to you and what the facility sends out. Then consider where the facility is located and how workers travel to it every day. Is public transport available and efficient? Does part of the workforce do their jobs remotely? If so, incentivizing workers to use public transport or introducing more hybrid or remote work options can reduce the impact on the environment.

Review the types and quantities of emissions from the facility and determine their environmental harm to employees, local communities and beyond. If they are harmful, look for ways to eliminate or minimize them. Countermeasures might be costly in the immediate term, but can pay off in the longer term and could include efficiency gains if done as part of a thorough process.

It may seem strange to consider biodiversity when mapping the processes of a hospital or the activities on a factory floor. Yet, the very act of building or expanding a facility or parking lot may have already negatively impacted the local biodiversity. For example, the effects of microplastics on all types of species are becoming clear. Therefore, the material selection decisions made all across industry can impact our world’s ecosystems and we all have a responsibility as stewards of our planet to factor these considerations into every decision.

The green wastes enable better green value stream mapping by lean practitioners to see more and put numbers to what we see, thus catalyzing green-focused kaizens. This approach does more than identify quantities of waste and the related potential cost savings. It also puts on the radar an ideal state of net-zero emissions, long-term competitiveness, and the development of eco-conscious businesses that will help all of us.

Mapping the green value streams and targeting waste from an environmental perspective will facilitate the transition from a take-make-waste economy to one focused on integrating into business models and strategies the concepts of eliminating waste, reusing and recycling materials, regenerating natural resources and protecting the world we all live in. Understanding how to deploy lean thinking and practices can help reduce the negative impacts of product, service and design development across a wide range of industries.

Please contact us to discover how our lean enterprise and consulting services can help your company capture the potential production benefits and cost savings from this work.

« Go Back