Introduction

The environmental movement of the 1990s prompted many business managers to think about the impact of their activities on the environment. Before then, most managers seemed to think that generating waste was an unavoidable function of conducting business. Currently, managers are increasingly focusing on minimising waste and adding value to waste by-products.

Minimising the volume of pre- and post-production organic and non-organic waste is vital to companies in the food processing supply chain. Essential business objectives for minimising solid waste throughout the supply chain are to minimise inputs and reduce the potential for waste, and to contemplate re-engineering or creating co-products to add value.

Waste minimisation is an efficient and up-front solution to waste management that can significantly alter the way a business thinks about and treats waste (May & Flannery 1995). Although recycling is the solution that is usually embraced by those concerned about waste, waste minimisation is a superior approach because it aims to eliminate or reduce the quantity or toxicity of manufacturing wastes in addition to waste generated by products at the end of their useful life. Waste minimisation approaches range from good housekeeping practices to product redesign, and result in less waste being created, stored, treated, or discarded by a company.

Not only is it an environmentally superior alternative, waste minimisation is a competitively sound tactic for companies. It allows firms to reduce escalating disposal costs, adhere to governmental regulations, be viewed as a 'green' (environmentally sound) company, and increase their profits.

The main themes of this chapter are the key reasons to minimise waste, chain management to minimise waste, good housekeeping procedures to minimise raw material waste, the effective implementation of measures to minimise waste, and future trends. A case study is presented to demonstrate that a company can realise significant waste reduction and associated cost savings by forming a supply-chain partnership programme. At the end of the chapter, sources of further information and advice are presented.

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