A Lean and Green Benchmark

To continue our discussion of sustainability and green manufacturing, I present part two of my “digital dialogue” with Brett Wills (author of Green Intentions: Creating a Green Value Stream to Compete and Win). In this post, he presents a great case study in “green thinking”:

"In business for more than 30 years, Interface Inc. is a publicly traded company with 2007 annual revenues of $1.08 Billion. They are headquartered in Atlanta, GA and have offices in more than 100 countries.

Interface is arguably best known in the green world for being a leader in industrial ecology by closing the loop on carpeting. Their ability to take back their carpets and make new carpet out of it with relatively minimal environmental impact in the process has shown that green thinking is not only possible it is practical and just plain good business.

Under the leadership of founder and chairman Ray Anderson along with the support of key change agents such as senior engineer Dave Gustashaw, Interface has a vision of being the world’s first environmentally restorative company by 2020. That’s right, environmentally restorative, not environmentally friendlier or even neutral but to actually have a positive impact on the environment.

Interface looks at waste not only form the customer’s perception of value but also extend that thinking to include the environments perception of value. Although they admit they still have a long way to go, their results serve as inspiration for what can be achieved with a commitment to banish all forms of waste. Have a look at the remarkable stats of their 15-year 'lean and green' journey, you will be amazed.

Cumulative avoided costs from waste elimination – $372,000,000
Total waste sent to landfills from manufacturing – down 66%
Total energy use – down 45%
Total renewable energy use – 27%
Percent renewable or bio-based materials in products – 25%
Net absolute greenhouse gas emissions – down 82%
Water – down 75% modular, 45% broadloom
Post consumer/industrial diversion from landfill – 133,000,000 lbs.
Safety – 60% reduction in recordable accidents.

Still think that going green is a financial drag and a “nice to do” in good times?

The trick to achieving results with green is to have a process and road map to follow. The lean and green process provides this map.

* Information extracted from the an article appearing in the Association for Manufacturing Excellence’s Target Magazine (Volume 24, Issue Number 5). The article was written by Dave Gustashaw and Dr. Robert Hall.

1 comment:

Adam Zak said...

Interface is an excellent example of a company which has figured out the connection between Lean and Green. And that's great.

But what's not so great is that a large majority of businesses in North America still operate in silo-fashion with Green initiatives seemingly standing apart from Lean transformation efforts.

Ironic, in my view, that these companies are pursuing both Lean and Green objectives but have not had the vision to effectively integrate the two. For more of my perspective check out this link.


And that's the way I see it. Adam Zak