no waste


NoWaste  is about delivering more for less, it is about eliminating waste from our daily work. It is about improving productivity, it is about increasing our competitiveness and most of all, it is about making it easier for everyone to "do sustainability".

Conventional thinking on sustainability can be broadly divided into the three broad areas: buying the right stuff; minimising pollution and getting rid of it in a progressive (and law-abiding) way. Buying the right stuff is easy, just pay a bit more and you can be assured of the right provenance. Minimising pollution is also achievable through buying the right technologies. Proper disposal is something we are asked to do everyday by the municipal authorities, the media and other social champions, and readily achievable through investing in recycling. For a business, these activities can be managed by a specialist manager and/or contracted out to specialist companies.

Have you noticed a trend in the previous paragraph?

Every one of those activities requires you to spend some money, or spend a bit more money or spend a lot more money. In corporate jargon, this is known as a "cost centre". Why are they not profit centres? Well, basically it is because whilst all these activities deliver some common good, they are not often items that add value to a customer, nor do they add utility to your products and services. Since customers are mainly buying your products and services, rather than just your reputation of doing good, then having cost centres just end up cutting your margins.

You may think, so what? Reputation matters and even in a recession, it still matters. Well, there are customers who will pay more for a good reputation. But with tough competition on price for just about every product and service why run that risk of losing a customer because of your higher costs?

NoWaste takes a different approach to sustainability. Unlike many others, we look at sustainability not as an end-of-pipe issue of disposal, or solely as a pollution or procurement issue, but instead as a business operations issue. We focus on improving the productivity of the organisation. At its simplest, if we can deliver more output from the same input, then we are saving money, engaging our employees and also reducing the amount of resources we use. In other words, we are doing sustainability.

The way we extract more outputs from the same inputs is by eliminating waste.

Waste is an Anti-Sustainability: it costs money, it demoralises people, and it is literally costing the earth.

3 versions of processA simple way to look at waste is to consider how we work - we have an idealised process map of what we are supposed to do - generally quite simple, logical and consistent with the demands on us. However the reality is often something entirely different. The real process we work to is often complex, sometimes illogical and usually confusing.

This happens because we add new bits to an existing process or have workarounds or the extra details is caused by the physical layout of the workplace. If a work environment is poorly laid out and badly organised, it is quite likely that we will be making unnecessary trips or carry out extra manoeuvres/ movements which complicate our process map.

All this costs money, effort, materials and time. Furthermore, whilst all the wasted actions are happening (and not adding value), we are still paying for the utilities - electricity does not become cheaper when we are wasting our time, heating does not costs less just because we are performing unnecessary actions.

Reducing waste offers an organisation the simplest and most cost-effective way to do sustainability. It is an approach that everyone can take part and by improving current practices, individuals and teams get ownership of the innovations thus increasing morale.

waste definitions To start, let's define waste:

Although these definitions appear to be quite strict, there is actually quite a bit of flexibility. For example, although customers tend to see utility as the reason for their purchase of products and services, most customers understand that some non-value adding elements are also necessary. These can include workforce welfare, a pleasant working environment, training and skills development.

The critical issue about value and wastes is that just about everything we do includes some element of waste - because we are not perfect and neither are our processes and procedures. As such, our aims are:

The UK government suggests that waste should be managed through a hierarchy of activities, starting at the most effective and then progressively going for the less effective solutions as options run out.

waste hierarchy The first two options are the best choices as they maximise the sustainability gains through saving money and reducing resource wastage. Since they cut waste, they also motivate people.

The next two options are less preferred but are considered to be easier to do

NoWaste is based on well-tested operations management techniques such as Lean, Six Sigma Quality, Total Productive Maintenance and Total Quality Management.

The NoWaste approach was established in 2004 and has since helped companies and teams to improve their operations, save money and feel good about themselves.

Click on the navigation links on the left hand side for some background details of these and explore the techniques tab at the top of the page.