The steps involved in planning and organizing a waste reduction program are summarized in Table 4.
Most small businesses do not realize how much waste they produce. Ask most managers if they use all of their raw material, or input, and they will probably say that they do. What they actually mean is that they process all of the raw material needed, not that they use the entire amount purchased. If they feel they are getting their money's worth, most managers will not give a second thought to what is lost or wasted.
This philosophy is common in smaller businesses because they often do not have the personnel, the expertise, or the budget to spend on developing adequate inventory control. The larger the business, the more resources are available to scrutinize inventory control.
Waste reduction in any size industry can only work if it is embraced by top management. Small operations often have an advantage here because the owner is usually the immediate supervisor and remains on-site for most of the workday. Through leadership and example, employees will be motivated to participate in the overall program.
Table 4 Planning and Organization Activities Summary
Setting Up the Program
Establish waste minimization as a company goal. Establish a waste minimization program to meet this goal. Give authority to the program task force to implement a program. Starting the Program Task Force
Find a "cause champion" with the following attributes:
Familiar with the facility, its production processes, and its waste management operations. Familiar with and respected by the employees. Familiar with quality control requirements. Good rapport with management.
Familiar with new production and waste management technology.
Familiar with waste minimization principles and techniques and environmental regulations. Aggressive managerial style. Getting Company-wide Commitment
Find people who know the facility, processes, and procedures. Find people from the affected departments or groups.
Incorporate the company's waste minimization goals into departmental goals.
Solicit employee cooperation and participation.
Develop incentives and/or awards for managers and employees.
Several large corporations, e.g., General Dynamics, Borden Chemical, and the 3M Corporation, have pioneered effective waste reduction programs with procedures that fit equally well in smaller operations. These large industries were driven by upper management pressures, profit margins, and corporate images. Inherent in each program is a strong waste reduction plan and direct involvement by employees from all departments .
Small businesses may not have the capital to spend on expensive equipment or to change existing processes overnight, but they do possess a valuable resource in their employees. Creative ideas and active participation by all employees can translate into unexpected cost savings and profits for any entrepreneur. Acting on an employee's recommendation, General Dynamics was able to eliminate disposal costs of a caustic solution by finding a market for it. Borden Chemical greatly reduced effluent waste by encouraging good housekeeping techniques. In the area of waste reduction, employers should never overlook the obvious and never reject another's ideas as being too simplistic.
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