Eco-friendly = Profitable

I came across a very interesting article over on the Ensia site titled Manufacturing Goes Lean and Green written by Justin Miller. The article focuses on Highwood -- a manufacturer of synthetic woods -- that considers its product and its manufacturing facility environmentally friendly. 

Although the company was designed as a "green" operation, it started embracing Lean methodology years after inception and here are the results that grabbed my attention:

"In 2009, for example, Highwood cut its energy consumption for lighting by more than 50 percent just by retrofitting its facility with high-efficiency fluorescent light bulbs. With help from MEP (Manufacturing Extension Partnership), the company installed solar panels, which now provide about 20 percent of its energy needs"

"Highwood not only has reduced its landfill waste by 70 percent, but has reduced monthly removal fees by roughly 65 percent."

I'm sure these results came after embracing nontraditional mindsets, which certainly evolved the culture within the organization. The most important test for Highwood will be sustaining and expanding this new culture of challenging the traditional way of thinking.

I am always interested in hearing stories about organizations that are combining their formal Lean initiatives with "green" policies as it is proven to be the natural extension of Lean thinking and implementation.

What are your thoughts on this article? Do you think Lean initiatives can ultimately lead organizations to "closed-loop, zero-waste processes"?