Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Seven wasteful habits and ways to stop them




There is a strong focus on 'Zero Waste' in the media at the moment. Households are trying to achieve it, businesses are trying to achieve it and, in America, whole towns are trying to achieve it.

Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages reuse and recycling in a way that emulates the process of nature, so that nothing goes to waste. The aim is to cut out all waste that goes to landfills or incinerators.

It's an overwhelming task, which is changing how we think about everything — from original materials and processes to reusing, recycling and repurposing.

In reality, the waste that ends up in landfills and incinerators is only part of the problem for businesses. Not all waste is physical waste that we can see when we look in the dustbin. There is also wasted time, wasted effort and wasted energy. 

If you are looking into new waste reduction initiatives, here are ten habits you might need to stop.

1. Mistakes

Avoidable errors waste time, materials and energy. From manufacturing errors to driving collisions, every company has the capacity to make mistakes and make less of them.

It's much easier to build quality into your process than to find and deal with mistakes that have already been made. 

Cultivate an environment where employees feel more responsible for the work they do and the waste they create. Invite their suggestions for reducing mistakes and waste. Reiterate the need to concentrate fully on the task in hand and to check their work at each stage of the process.

2. Excess

Any activity that involves using or producing too much. From idling engines and machines, to manufacturing overproduction.

Remind employees to turn equipment off when it is not needed and to follow spec sheets and instructions carefully.

3. Idle time 

Waiting for people or things that are missing or not ready wastes time. If you have too much idle time, look at your processes and identify any bottlenecks. 

For example, make sure that:
  • The workspace is organised efficiently, with a designated place for everything;
  • Tasks are being completed in the correct order;
  • There is sufficient planning and preparation;
  • There are enough people working on each stage of the process; and
  • There is sufficient equipment available for people to work with.

4. Movement

If your employees are having to make too many unnecessary journeys around your workplace this can waste time, effort and energy.

To remedy the problem:
  • Talk to your employees to identify where the problems are;
  • Store items your employees need most frequently in a more accessible place;
  • If certain items are often used together, store them near to each other if you can; and
  • Encourage employees to consolidate their journeys to save time.

5. Mishandling

Mishandling is damage caused by carelessness. It could be anything from knocking a wing mirror off a vehicle, to a forklift colliding with boxes, or a manufacturing machine breaking after being used incorrectly. 

If mishandling is a common problem in your workplace there may be specific things you need to address. For example, repeated forklift collisions might be a result of a badly laid out space. A machine that keeps breaking during use, may have a recurrent fault or your operators may need refresher training.

If and when incidents occur, talk to your employees to find out how they happened and try to solve persistent problems.

6. Wrongful disposal

Are your employees throwing things away that are not technically rubbish? For example, used boxes that could be refilled, 'empty' containers that are not actually empty, or recyclables that should go in the recycling bin?

If so, why are they doing this? Do they know what they should be recycling? Is your recycling system difficult to understand? Are your recycling bins in a less convenient place than the normal rubbish bin?

Most such problems can be remedied simply, with a little reorganisation or re-education. Make sure employees are clear about what is expected of them and what their responsibilities are.

7. Using substandards

You can waste time and energy by using or processing substandard materials. For example, using a broken pallet to transport goods could result in the goods falling and being damaged. Likewise, you can waste time and effort by processing substandard materials that will only lead to a substandard product.

Running defective machinery can, primarily, be unsafe. It can also waste materials and energy.

The solution to all of these problems is better checking methods:

  • Check the quality of goods-in before you store them away and then again before you process them;
  • Check the condition of pallets etc. before use; and 
  • Check machines, vehicles and equipment are safe to use and running efficiently.

As you can see, many of these issues can be remedied by improved communications.

This is where Kodiak's workplace poster programme can help, by continually reminding your employees of the protocol around waste and recycling.

If you would like to find out more about Kodiak and how we could help your business to reduce waste, please visit us at or call us on 01530 456 000.

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