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February 25, 2009

Six Sigma and the enviroment

Working on PIUSS, 6 Sigma in my mind..

A couple of weeks ago I read an interview with an government officer defending that the amount of kids per couple should be controlled. The idea is that the world was not able to sustain more people. It is an understandable idea but not a simple explanation for 3 reasons:

-In most developed countries the population stable or even decreasing (Italy, France, etc)

-In several other big countries (developing and developed) the growth is rather small and mainly caused by immigration (Brazil, US, China...)

-The biggest growth is in very specific and usually poor countries (most of Africa, India, etc)

The consumption level of resources per capta is VERY small on most of the high growing countries and is massive on the rich developed countries (specially the US). That combination of factor is helping balance the situation.

I was discussing this matter with an expert about 1,5 years ago. And he told his major concern was not population growth or even increase in consumption of resources per capta but the amount of waste. He gave me an example that I found rather shocking. He said that the most efficient explosion engines only used about 14-18% of the energy potential contained on the fuel. All the rest was wasted on noise, smoke, lack of appropriate technologies, etc...Basically only about 200ml of each litre of fuel we use is really used to move the cars, all the rest is WASTED. He gave several other examples related tp water and paper. It was shocking.

I took 2 lessons out of the combination of the information's above. 1st. reducing waste, using everything more efficiently, recycling is an easier, quicker and more efficient way of helping save the planet. Imagine if we could reach a 6 Sigma kind of level to the usage of resources, being wasting anything an defect? Would we be saving the world?  Reducing variation and increasing efficiency on the process would certainly be a more noble (and in the long term better financially speaking) reason to use Six Sigma like techniques to improve production an processes...

Second lesson learned. Try not to waste. Water is scarce, energy too. Everything has an environmental cost and someday, be sure of that, that price is going to reflect on the actual financial cost of things. Water will be expansive, paper too. And depending how we handle it now things can be only reasonably expensive, not unaffordable...


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