Going Green - Mass Balance Approach

August 11th, 2014


The production facility was spending over $90,000 annually to dispose of 1.9 million pounds of waste into landfills. Some recycling was taking place but cost over $12,000 annually.  The issue is to reduce the landfill waste, increase what can be recycled, and get paid for the recycling.


The team discussed how going green should, could, and would be a benefit to their facility. The initial thought was to consider the general mass balance equation.

Inputs + Production Activities = Output for Customers + Accumulated Waste

The team applied the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC problem solving approach. They Defined the problem, Measured the Inputs, Outputs, and Accumulated Waste, conducted Analysis to detemine what could be recycled and what had to go into the landfill, used creativity techniques to brainstorm what could be done to Improve, and then detemined the measures that would Control what was supposed to happen to the waste being generated. After going through the detailed analysis the team found that over 90% of what had been going to the landfill could be recycled. The reason why turned out to be that there was no plan or way to accumulate the recylable materials that was easier than just throwing everything into the dumpster.

Solutions and Results:

The team identified all of the materials that could be recycled and then worked with Waste Management Inc to organize the process to make it easy to execute. This included specific receptacles for specific materials. An education program was developed to train everyone on what is to be recycled and what truly is landfill waste.  The team saved over $70,000 in annual waste removal costs and over $12,000 in recycling costs. The cost to recycle became free by identifying the companies that wanted the materials, would provide the receptacles, and haul the recycle to their facilities.