Waste appears in many forms across all functions of your business. Waste in the form of garbage, exhaust, energy, water, leaks, scrap, office supplies, time, resources and even people are prevalant. Waste costs money and can continue to snowball if not attacked and rectified.

Many forms of waste in a manufacturing environment are classified as hazardous which must be managed per compliance of local state and municipal laws. All waste ends outside your plant in many areas including landfills, backyards, junkyards, recyclers, rivers, lakes and oceans. Exhausted waste goes into the atmosphere and ends up in groundwater, soil, plants, animals and people.

Zero Waste Hierarchy

The goal of all manufacturers should be to find ways to eliminate waste in all of its forms. Achieving ZERO WASTE can be done. As shown in this hierarchy one starts at the top to find ways to first eliminate or avoid wherever possible. Then the process is to work down the pyramid until there is no alternative but to dispose of the waste. Eventually the goal should to dispose of nothing.

Achieving zero waste requires innovation, engineering, networking and rethinking how everything is currently done in your facility. What can be avoided, what can be reclaimed and reused, what can be recycled back into the processes, what can be changed?


Are the machines sized appropriately to the tasks required? Is there heating and air conditioning applied to "dead" areas? Is all scrap reused or recycled? Do you build to order to avoid surplus inventory? Are your workers properly trained on the machinery not only to operate but how to maintain it? Are all safety measures in place? Is the Qualtiy Program up-to-date? What leaves your building in the form of trash? What leaves in the form of hazardous material? What do you do with e-waste? Are your facilities clean energy powered?


How much packaging is discarded from incoming materials? How efficient and organized are your warehouses? Do you have sufficient supply sources for all processes and products to avoid downtime? Are there ways to reduce packaging and pallets that go to customers? Are all delivery trucks that enter and leave your facility completely full? Can you source supplies locally?


There are many areas where your employees can help eliminate waste in the office. How much paper do you print and how much ink is consumed? Get rid of those coffee services that produce individual plastic container waste and go back to serving coffee in a large pot where workers reuse ceramic mugs. How about lighting, Heat and Air Conditioning? What about the toilets and sinks?


EPA - Learn about Waste
EPA - Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
EPA- Hazardous Waste
Zero Waste Alliance
ISO 13.030: Wastes


Do your employees take public transporation or ride-share to save fuel and reduce carbon emissions? Do you have incentives to employees to drive energy efficient vehicles? If you have fleet vehicles are they energy efficient and do you have optimized routing? Is all travel absolutely necessary? Can flights be reduced and can video conferencing be used instead? Do your employees practice waste reduction at home?