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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Pollution Prevention 101: Lean Manufacturing, EMS, and Sustainability

Resources for pollution prevention (P2) technical assistance providers. Geared particularly toward those new to the P2 field.

Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is a business model and collection of tactical methods that emphasize eliminating non-value added activities (waste) while delivering quality products on time at least cost with greater efficiency. In the U.S., lean implementation is rapidly expanding throughout diverse manufacturing and service sectors such as aerospace, automotive, electronics, furniture production, and health care as a core business strategy to create a competitive advantage.

While the focus of lean manufacturing is on driving rapid, continual improvement in cost, quality, service, and delivery, significant environmental benefits typically "ride the coattails" or occur incidentally as a result of these production-focused efforts. Lean production techniques often create a culture of continuous improvement, employee empowerment, and waste minimization, which is very compatible with organizational characteristics encouraged under environmental management systems (EMS) and pollution prevention (P2). Other related business strategies such as "Six Sigma" can have the same effect.

Environmental Management Systems

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency. 

There are many resources available for developing environmental management systems. The links below will get you started.