prevented through cost-effective projects. Since 1975, 3M pollution-prevention projects have stopped roughly 700,000 tons of pollutants from entering the environment and saved the company over $750 million.

The 3P program emphasizes to all employees that they can take actions both to reduce the actual volume of pollution being generated and to increase the monetary savings that result from these actions. However, this metric did not tie reductions in pollution to specific production activities, and it did not include reductions that were achieved but not reported.

In the late 1980s, 3M began looking at ways that it could measure and report waste generation and waste reduction that would better fit into a total quality management (TQM) program. The system needed to be simple, accurate, and reproducible. It needed to be indexed to production so that the waste was viewed in relationship to total plant output. Also, the system needed to measure the reduction in waste resulting from pollution-prevention efforts. Measurements needed to be made before the waste was treated, controlled, or disposed of. The system had to allow the establishment of goals at both the corporate and the division levels. And, perhaps most important, the system needed to motivate employees.

After considerable discussion and trials of pilot projects that used different measurement schemes, 3M implemented such a system in 1990. The system classifies all outputs from a production facility into one of three categories: product, or the intended output from the manufacturing facility; by-product, or residuals that are productively used through some form of recycling or reuse; and waste, or material that is subjected to waste treatment, pollution control, or is directly released into the environment. Together, these items represent the total output from the manufacturing facility. The metric reported is the waste ratio:

waste ratio = waste/(waste + by-product + product) = waste/total output.

This metric is, in a manner of speaking, a measurement of manufacturing efficiency. If the waste ratio is zero, then all raw materials are being productively used. This does not mean that the plant's processes are 100 percent efficient or that all raw materials are being converted to product. For the majority of operations, the latter is impossible.

At 3M, the waste ratio is reported by division, not merely by plant. Manufacturing employees can make significant contributions to reducing waste, but the participation of many other workers is necessary to fully implement waste reduction and pollution-prevention efforts. Through research and development, company scientists develop new products and processes that generate less waste. 3M engineers design more-efficient equipment that will accept recycled or reused materials. Finally, the company's sales force preferentially sells products that generate the least waste. In short, waste reduction and pollution prevention are everyone's job. If the objective is to change the corporate culture and the way



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement