Improving Environmental and Economic Performance in the Food Chain; the Lean and Green Paradigm
Pp. 173-183 (11)
Keivan Zokaei, Ioannis Manikas and Samsad Reza
The increasing awareness of the effects of food production and consumption
on the natural environment as well as growing environmental, social and ethical concern
of consumers have led to increased pressure on the agrifood industry from all
stakeholders to deal with social and environmental issues related to their supply chains
within product lifecycles, from ‘farm to fork’.
On the other hand, “greening” per se does not attract much attention amongst the
agrifood business leaders, unless it is combined with economic waste elimination.
Already, there is a body of knowledge emerging in this area which alludes to the natural
fit between economic waste elimination through continuous operational improvement
(such as lean) and environmental waste management (Hawken et al., 1999). At the same
time, researchers such as Zokaei et al., (2010) and Hines (2010) illustrate that lean
techniques and continuous improvement culture can be integrated with greening
techniques into a single holistic approach. The Lean management concept aims to
eliminate the “waste”, which refers to the non-value adding tasks from the system and is
based upon the idea of Automation and ‘just in time’ (JIT) production.
Many authors argue that there is a natural fit between economic waste elimination and
operational excellence (e.g. lean thinking) and environmental waste elimination
(Hawken et al., 1999; Zokaei et al., 2010). However, the existing levels of lean maturity
in manufacturing industries are underpinned by several decades of continuous
improvement and refinement of approaches. This is hardly the case in the agrifood
sector and therefore, the basic foundations for using operational excellence as means of
'greening' the sector may not exist (or at least they may not be mature enough).
The paper assesses the applicability of lean management techniques and concepts to
greening of the agrifood supply chains; the research investigates actual systems, through
case study analysis. The objective is to gather evidence on the best lean and green
practices in the agrifood sector and assess the tools and concepts deployed by the food
industry to realise the potential synergies between economic and environmental waste
elimination and continuous improvement.
Environmental Performance, Economic Performance, Food Chain;
Lean, Green Paradigm, food production, food consumption, natural environment,
agrifood industry, economic waste elimination, continuous operational
improvement, environmental waste management, just in time’ (JIT) production, lean
maturity, sustainability, supply chain sustainability, case study analysis, economic
synergies, lean supply chain, lead time reduction, value, supplier relations
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