Waste less

Waste is any unproductive loss of raw materials, energy or labour, where waste is an unwanted outcome. In many processes waste is inherent and cannot be avoided, however it can usually be reduced.



Some simple measures to check on business efficiency

This applies to manufacturing, but may also be used by service providers where the product is not a material object and raw materials are minimal and do not appear in the product .







Expected performance (Manufacturing general)

Time (labour)

Labour cost / Sales

Profit / no. of employees

Ø  $20,000 p.a.

Materials (process inputs)

Waste disposal cost / Sales

Profit / cost of waste disposal

Ø  50


Energy bills / Sales

Profit / cost of energy

Ø  2

Capital (overheads)

Capital Employed / Sales

Profit / net assets

Ø  depends


Of course the performance will depend on the exact nature of the business. There is room for concern if these performance measures are not being met by a manufacturer and an investigation of the causes for below average performance should be undertaken.


Strategies for Efficiency Improvement

There are a myriad of strategies that can be employed to improve efficiency and profitability. They rely on making some measurements to prove their effectiveness and there are some general principles that override most of the strategies used.


-          Design out waste (eco-design)

-          Reductions by avoiding unnecessary processes should be done first

-          Use a Lifecycle approach to waste (raw materials, manufacture, product use, end of product life)

-          Waste action hierarchy    REDUCTION  >>  REUSE  >>   RECYCLE  >>  WASTE TO ENERGY  >> DISPOSAL

-          Energy hierarchy   REDUCE DEMAND  >> DEMAND MANAGEMENT  >>  SOURCE OF ENERGY

-          Energy fuel source hierarchy   ELECTRIC  >> DIESEL  >  PETROL  >  LPG  > NATURAL GAS

-          Even sequential process flows save time and improve productivity

-          A linear pathway for production saves time and improves productivity