Lean processes are about creating quick feedback loops to run experiments that confirm a hypothesis or inform changes to yield better results. Many organizations have attained monumental growth by quickly iterating their products that implicitly sample their users for feedback.
How can we apply learnings from this evolutionary process to zero waste?
With this methodology, we allow for the setup of a stratified sampling system, not an exhaustive one, to quantify and categorize waste and contamination to inform our next steps and normalize the effect of various confounding factors such as day of the week, seasonality and one-off events.
Within a month of daily sampling waste at buildings, we were able to quickly gain insights into the most frequently observed issues such as contaminants or opportunities for waste reduction. Campaigns were then implemented that immediately focused on the most common contaminants in terms of volume (Paper towels in landfill) or severity (Animal Bedding) to increase recovery from landfill, reduce contamination and save on hauling costs and fines. With continued sampling, this creates a feedback loop for validating the hypothesis of the campaign which can be iterated upon for improved results.
With a zero waste grant from the City of San Francisco, UCSF and Zabble applied this methodology to sample waste at 4 buildings in the UCSF Mission Bay campus to run quick campaigns and evaluate the lean hypothesis to zero waste.
This presentation will discuss the results of the study conducted over a 6 month period.