In order to be able to adequately

In order to be able to adequately
compare or contrast lean and green systems we need to have a baseline
definition of what each of them mean. 
Especially when looking at “green” – this descriptor is used for so many
processes and items it can easily be misinterpreted or misconstrued.

Our book defines Lean Systems as “Operations
systems that maximize the value added by each of a company’s activities by
removing waste and delays from them.”  The
waste in this example is not “refuse” but excess waste in processing. These are
known as the “8 Wastes of Lean” and are “Defects, Overproduction, Waiting,
Non-Utilized Talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and Extra-Processing.” Lean
operations are considered primary focus factors in business process

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The textbook also provides a definition
of “green” as related to Green Purchasing – “The process of identifying,
assessing and managing the flow of environmental waste and finding ways to
reduce it and minimize its impact on the environment.” Overall for the purposes
of this discussion, green refers to any process whose aim is to improve the

The main differences between lean and
green can be seen in how businesses plan in the following Manufacturing Areas:
(adapted from Johansson)

Area of Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing

Green Manufacturing


Improve competitiveness by focusing on quality,
waste and delivery times to improve customer satisfaction

Merge improved environmental and industrial
processes to yield less pollution, waste by-products, and risk to living


Relates to how the
business looks to the future, interacts with people, and addresses their
business problems

Relates to areas specific
to reducing or preventing pollution, eliminating use of toxic substances and creating
a plan for environmental impact

or Process Focused

Focus is primarily on improving the process
but there is an understanding that the product influences how much the
process can be changed

Focuses equally on improving processes and
products and their impact on the environment

or Tools Used

Methods and tools
are chosen to improve processes

Methods and tools
are chosen for their environmental impact improvement on processes and


Employees are crucial to completing
continuous improvement processes

Employees are crucial for applying environmentally
sound processes and creating environmentally safe products

Chain Involvement

improvement is not possible without the involvement of all parts of the
supply chain; from suppliers to customers

Upstream involvement
of suppliers is crucial for developing environmentally sound performance which
spans the divisions between companies


This table reinforces the idea that
when a company makes the business decision to go “green” that becomes the
driving force behind their decisions. 
Green decisions are given the same weight (or in some cases higher
weight) than business process decisions. 
While some consumers will choose to purchase from particular companies because
of their green policy, some companies will elect to lose a portion of their customer
base if the benefits to the environment are significant.