We examine the relationship between lean manufacturing practices and environmental performance as measured in term of air emissions and resource use. We draw on two unique surveys of 31 automobile assembly plants in North America and Japan, which contain information on manufacturing practice and environmental performance, as well as in-depth interviews with 136 plant level employees at 17 assembly plants. Our survey results and interviews suggest that lean arrangement and reduction of air emission of volatile organic compound (VOCs) are associated negatively. Lean manufacturing practices contribute is more efficient use of paints and cleaning solvents, but these in process changes are not sufficient so meet the most stringent air regulations. We found some evidence to support the link between lean practices and resource efficiency. While our survey results interviews, however, suggest a more robust, and we use then to describe some mechanisms by which all three aspects of lean management (buffer minimization, work systems, and human resource management) may be related to environmental management practices and performance.
Department, Program, or Center
Rothenberg, Sandra, "Lean, green, and the quest for superior environmental performance" (2001). Production and Operation Management,Accessed from
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