Lean Waste Stream: Reducing Material Use and Garbage Using Lean Principles, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Lean Waste Stream

Reducing Material Use and Garbage Using Lean Principles, 1st Edition

By Marc Jensen

Productivity Press

182 pages | 53 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2014-09-10
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The fact that a process produces garbage is a testament to design inefficiency, and this book explains how to use the nature of that garbage to pinpoint and eliminate those inefficiencies. Lean Waste Stream: Reducing Material Use and Garbage Using Lean Principles suppliesan unprecedented look at how to address business waste in a manner that will improve your organization’s environmental and financial performance.

Tackling the problem of business garbage from a Lean perspective, the book maintains a focus on how to minimize garbage in ways that cut costs. It considers the problem of garbage in terms of transportation, inventory, and labor costs—with an effort to connect reductions in garbage production at all stages with lower operating costs and improved productivity.

Explaining how to use garbage analysis as a tool to identify the problems in process flow that produced the garbage, this book describes how to look downstream for options to reuse, repurpose, and recycle garbage to minimize landfill impact and costs. The text includes practical exercises with step-by-step instructions, as well as real-world examples that illustrate how specific wastes have been dealt with profitably by various organizations.


Garbage is something to which most people pay little attention. When companies like Walmart have focused on their waste they have discovered new profits. Heightened awareness of solid waste in virtually every setting can result in lower costs. Jensen explains the importance of paying attention to garbage and provides the methods for organized evaluation. His work is an excellent resource for anyone devoted to improving an organization’s environmental and financial performance.

—Fenton Rood, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality

Table of Contents

The Garbage Can

Looking Inside the Magic Box

Garbage and Wealth

Garbage as Embodied Process Costs

Garbage vs. Material Waste


Getting Rid of Our Waste


Energy Recovery


Downcycling and Upcycling

Recycling as a Last Resort

Waste Avoidance Strategies


Minimization and Prevention


Garbage Auditing

Planning the Audit

Safety for the Audit

Dumpster Diving Safety

Conducting an Audit Autopsy Style

Include Recycled Material in Your Audit

Vacuum Hoses

Hazardous or Sensitive Materials

Garbage Audit Data Collection

Conducting a Live Audit

Ongoing Garbage Monitoring


Interrogating the Garbage

Garbage Interrogation Worksheet

Making Improvements

Improvement Teams

Project Selection Criteria

The Project Team

The Project Charter Tool

Value Stream Mapping

Capturing Garbage on a Value Stream Map

Garbage and Material Waste Data Box

Building a Baseline Value Stream Map

Mapping Time

Mapping Improvements

Process Mapping Presentations

Making Improvements That Stick


Effective Recycling Programs

Design for Recyclability

The Psychology of Effective Recycling

Sharing the Rewards of Recycling

Waste Sorting and Segregation

Making Garbage Transparent and Accountable

Postconsumer Recycling vs. Material Recapture


Composting Programs and Organics

Food Waste

Plant Waste from Landscaping

Municipal Compost Yards

Plant Waste from Operations

Biodegradable Materials

Edible/Consumable Landscaping


Transportation and Storage of Garbage

Process Improvement and Spaghetti Diagrams

Garbage Compaction

Small-Scale Compactors

Styrofoam Densifiers

Reducing Dumpster Pulls—External Waste Handling Costs

Water in the Garbage

Dewatering Slurry


Reuse and Repurposing

Reusable Containers

Relationship with the Supplier

Repurposing and Reusing Containers

Specialty Markets for Materials

Material Exchange Programs

Virtually Any Waste Product Can Be Reused for Something


Waste Prevention through Design

Source Reduction Efforts

Simplify Suppliers

Purchasing Controls

Compressed Gas Leaks

Preventative Maintenance Practices



Paperwork Reduction

Why Do We Use Paper?

Advantages and Disadvantages of Paper



Active Processes vs. Records Retention

Analyzing Paper Use with a Paper Audit

Records Retention Policies and Document Destruction

Build a Robust Electronic File System

Common Sources of Office Waste Resulting from Paper Use

Reducing Toner Use

Paperwork Reduction vs. Paperless Office


Regulated Waste Segregation

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

Defining Hazardous Waste

Measuring Hazardous Waste

Exploring Nonhazardous Alternatives

Regulated Medical Waste

Confidential Paperwork

Waste Hoarding

Training and Information


Afterword: Maybe Don’t Call It Green

Appendix A: Conducting a Garbage Audit at the University of Oklahoma

Appendix B: Norman, Oklahoma, Municipal Compost Facility

Appendix C: Regulated Medical Waste at St. John Medical Center


About the Author


Marc Jensen is director of the University of Oklahoma (OU) Lean Institute in the College of Continuing Education where he teaches, coaches, develops materials, and administers programs. He specializes in applying Lean techniques to environmental sustainability and conservation efforts, driving environmentally conscious economic growth. Jensen earned his Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification in 2009. He serves broadly in an advisory capacity on conservation, sitting on several internal OU committees, and as a board member of the Oklahoma Recycling Association. In addition to his work in Lean, Jensen teaches as an adjunct in the music departments for both OU and the University of Indiana.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Industries / Manufacturing Industries