Linking Lean Six Sigma and Sustainability


Carol Parks, Director, Lean Six Sigma and Continuous Improvement, Sappi, Boston, MA, USA


Sustainability, Pipeline, Entitlement Thinking





Identifying projects is easy when you have a new Lean Six Sigma (LSS) program. The tendency is to have a pipeline full of Prosperity ideas; increasing sales volume, reducing debt, improving margins and profits as well as launching successful new products. In the early stages, LSS teams focus their efforts by working primarily with their manufacturing, sales and marketing counterparts. But what happens when LSS initiatives have been in place for 5-10 years, and the project results start becoming less pronounced? Redefining how LSS projects are identified and measured is one way to increase ROIs in a mature program. By considering sustainability in a broad context that encompasses the 3P’s of Prosperity, People, and Planet, a company can expand the focus of its LSS initiatives beyond just Prosperity to include both People and Planet. Engaging your Environmental and Sustainability teams is critical to the success of working on the right projects with the right people. Following an 8-step process that includes sustainability as a key objective will help achieve a step change in scope and results of your LSS program. The goal is to expand the LSS pipeline with focused efforts on sustainability and holistic assessments of key Prosperity, People and Planet indicators.

Sappi’s LSS priorities have shifted to include a higher concentration of energy, water, waste streams and emissions type projects which result in positive impacts on both our mill production rates and our communities. Our greenhouse gas emissions, as measured per ton of production, are well below the industry average because we consume primarily renewable energy and because a commitment to sustainability and continuous improvement permeate our culture. At Sappi, we have used LSS strategies and our 8-step process to improve our sustainability KPIs and reduce capital spending while simultaneously making pulp production and waste treatment more efficient and effective, and providing agricultural liming materials to our community. Sappi has a gold rating from EcoVadis, an independent sustainability evaluator, placing the company among the top 4 percent of the roughly 30,000 companies surveyed annually. It is also included in the FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index Top 30, and as a renewable natural resource company, is in an excellent position to help drive the forestry industry towards a low-carbon future. We strive to further reduce our carbon footprint, energy used and waste generated. Transforming your LSS organization can be accomplished by using Sappi’s 8-step process, which expands on the pipeline generation and traditional DMAIC approach.

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Conference Chair's Message 

Joel Smith

This year’s conference is focused on making sure we are “continuing” our journey as practitioners. Whatever your level of experience, you will learn new concepts, new perspectives and network with the best in the industry.

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