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Green Productivity

by Kevin Chan

Inspired by the developments during the Earth Submit in Rio De Janeiro and Agenda 21, the APO started to develop the concept of Green Productivity in 1994.  Green Productivity (GP) is defined as “A strategy for enhancing productivity and environmental performance for overall social-economic development. It is the application of appropriate tools, techniques and technologies to reduce the environmental impact of organizations’ activities, goods and services.”

During the APO World Conference on GP in Manila in 1996, it was declared that, ‘Environment protection should be promoted without sacrificing productivity’. This window had enabled both large and small companies to improve their environmental performance even though many of their initial concerns were on productivity and profitability.

GP addresses all elements of a business system that include ‘Input’, ‘Process’, ‘Output’ and ‘Waste’ (including environmental pollution), while ensuring products or services meet customers’ requirements and productivity of the system.


Figure: GP addresses all elements of a business system and help in improving productivity
Source: Teian Consulting International, Singapore

The approach, the GP Methodology comprises of 6 steps and 13 tasks. It is based on the continuous application of the PDCA cycle to achieve Kaizen at the workplace. What makes the approach special is that it includes the task of an investigative walk-through process of the entire workplace and also reviews resource utilisation at each step through the technique of material or energy balance.


The GP Methodology
Figure: The GP Methodology
Source : APO


It brings about the opportunity to apply various environmental techniques like 3R (Recycle, Reuse and Recovery), Eco-map, Waste Stream Segregation, Energy Conservation, Input Material Changes, Design for Environment, Life Cycle Assessment, etc. Management and productivity techniques such as Value Engineering, 5S, 7 Wastes, Benchmarking, Total Productivity Maintenance, Cost and Benefit Analysis, Process flow charts, Cause and effect diagram, Pareto diagram, etc. can also be easily incorporated.

GP helps in reducing the cost of operations through better resource utilization, reducing long-term liabilities, complying with government regulations, and improving corporate image that will eventually impact profitability. For example; an automobile manufacturing company implemented more than 20 GP options that resulted in a financial gain of US$5 million in less than 2 years. At the same time, GP will create opportunities to involve employees in activities that improve the value-added of the company and making the workplace more effective and safe. Over the years, other than the manufacturing industry, GP has also been successfully implemented in the service, agricultural and community development sectors.

GP can be implemented either as a ‘driver’ or as a ‘tool’. The earlier require companies to set up a company-wide organization to manage the program and to regularly set objectives for deployment down the organization. When used as a ‘tool’, companies can form GP Team(s) to work on assigned facilities or processes. For effectiveness, GP activities should be integrated with other management or productivity activities. Successful implementation of GP activities requires strong commitment and leadership from the top management. Companies also need to have strong implementation infrastructure and thorough understanding of the concept of GP and its tools and techniques.

This article have been written by our Principal Consultant, Mr. Kelvin Chan for the Asian Productivity Organization for their APO News published in March 2009 under the category of Productivity Methodologies, Tools and Techniques. The PDF version of the Newsletter is available for downloading from the Asian Productivity Organization website at this link.

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