5 Ways to Reduce Waste in Manufacturing

5 Ways to Reduce Waste in Manufacturing

By: Joe Bolick, Communications and PR Manager, Iowa Waste Reduction Center

In my years at the Iowa Waste Reduction Center, I have been through countless manufacturing facilities. From giant facilities crafting state-of-the-art helicopters to small craft breweries coming up with their latest concoction, all manufacturing facilities can minimize what they send to the landfill by doing these simple things:

  1. Monitor it – Seems silly, but simply monitoring your waste is one of the simplest yet most effective ways you can cut down on the waste you generate. Why? Because when you start monitoring something, you’re forced to think about it. Like the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind.” The opposite holds true as well.

  2. Adjust processes – Inefficiencies throughout all manufacturing processes are problematic. Take a step back and look at what’s coming in and what’s going out. Figure out where along the line things can be done better and make those changes. You’ll be shocked at the impact that a few minor improvements can make.

  3. Reuse what you can – Waste is inevitable in manufacturing. Even the most efficient processes still generate some waste. But can that waste be turned into an asset for your company? Look at your various waste streams and see if there is another internal use for it. Be creative, you never know what you may find.

  4. Look for a buyer – One person’s trash is another’s treasure. Maybe you can’t find an internal use for a waste stream…that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worthless. There may be another company out there that is looking for that exact same thing. There are resources out there, such as the Iowa Waste Exchange, that can help you find a match for your particular waste stream.

  5. Recycle – Last, but certainly not least, is to set up a recycling program. It’s not enough to simply have a cardboard dumpster outside, however. To really be effective, a recycling program must be comprehensive and user-friendly. If someone has to walk across the shop floor to place their Mountain Dew bottle in the recycling bin versus tossing it in the trash can right next to them, where do you think that bottle is going to end up most of the time? There should be a recycling bin next to every trash can in the facility.

If you have less than 200 employees, the Iowa Waste Reduction Center can help provide assistance with these measures. Do you have any suggestions for manufacturers to reduce waste? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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