All operational activities generate waste streams or associated pollutants regardless of the enterprise. For a service company or office-type setting, the "wastes" may simply be dirty water, waste paper, and emissions associated with energy consumed in operating the office and commuting. The manufacturing world deals with these wastes and a much more complicated set of "wastes", for example, scrap or defects, process water, toxins, and wasted energy and water.
The following input/output diagram helps illustrate the operations and processes that generate waste.
Sources of pollution or waste stem from less-than-best operating practices, outmoded or non-optimized processes, and resource intensive product designs. These sources can generate toxic or hazardous materials, or an intensive use of resources. Any output other than product indicates an opportunity to optimize the processes or input choices.
The impacts of these activities include: cost associated with waste treatment and disposal, health affects from chemical exposure, depletion of resources, loss of competitiveness, and degradation of environmental quality. Often overlooked are the subtle costs that could be avoided by eliminating a waste or specialized handling altogether. How does one address these costs and the challenges of reducing the environmental impacts? The answer is in avoiding generation of the waste and pollutants in the first place.
A set of P2 options are typically considered when trying to identify options to remove waste generation:
The systematic steps for getting buy-in, planning and implementing P2 programs, as well as links to specific P2 opportunities, can be found in the P2 Opportunities sections.
Great checklists to help you identify P2 projects.