Waste in Glass Processing




UK Government Environment and Energy Helpline 0800 585 794

Robin Kent - Tangram Technology Ltd. 

 Do you want to increase your profits by 10%? '100% Production'

Of course we all think we have 100% production. The answer is that if you have a skip in your factory, or if you have any rubbish collected from your factory then you do not have 100% production. This means that you could save up to 1% of turnover and increase profits by 10% through a waste minimisation programme and by using simple and practical techniques.

'100% production' is about using every piece of material that enters your factory to produce good and saleable products. This might appear impossible to achieve but the closer to 100% you get then the more profit you will make.

'Do you want to generate profit or waste?'

 Waste minimisation

Waste minimisation reduces costs and improves profits, makes your company greener but the tools and techniques are simply aids to the process. Waste minimisation is a basic management philosophy aimed at achieving a more profitable business.

Some companies count the cost of waste disposal, but there are many other hidden costs of waste. Instead of wasting raw materials, time and effort, and paying for effluent or landfill disposal, you need to take steps to stop waste occurring in the first place and add to your bottom line.

Waste minimisation uses the 'waste hierarchy' (shown at right). The best profits are made when you eliminate the sources of waste and the worst are when you allow waste to occur and have to dispose of the results. Elimination is better than disposal.

Waste minimisation is the process of systematically reducing waste at source in all areas of the company such as:

'Reduce waste at source to maximise profits'

 What are the business reasons?


The cost of waste is easily ignored but most companies spend at least 4-5% of total turnover producing waste. Up to 1% of turnover (or about 10% of profit) could probably be saved - often quickly and simply - through waste minimisation. The company profits could be significantly increased by cutting waste. To get an estimate of the potential for waste minimisation a general rule is:

Potential company waste minimisation savings = 5 x annual company waste disposal costs.

Most companies do not realise the full cost of waste and only record the cost of disposal. Throwing out waste is throwing out materials that have been paid for. It is the same as throwing out money. In some cases the 'cost of waste' can be up to 20 times the disposal costs and up to 20% of the cost of production. When these levels are reached the 'cost of waste' is likely to be higher than the direct labour costs - an item that is always measured and controlled in every company.

Cost effective waste minimisation is a valuable investment with rapid payback times in the order of months. Waste minimisation is good business and reducing waste reduces costs.

Environmental legislation is raising the cost of waste disposal and rising costs of water supply and effluent disposal make it even more worthwhile to reduce costs at source. The cost of waste is not going to get less in the future.


Companies, and especially key directors and managers, face stiff penalties for failing to comply with environmental legislation, which gets tougher and more complex every year.


Customers, employees and suppliers have a growing interest in every company's environmental performance. Waste minimisation shows how effectively and efficiently operations are controlled.

 Starting to save money

Obtain top level commitment to waste minimisation

Waste minimisation is not a technology 'fix', it is a management issue and needs top level commitment to succeed. Commitment will only come when sound business reasons are presented for the actions. The business reasons for waste minimisation are simple:

Where is the waste?

Many companies think that waste minimisation consists of large 'STOP WASTE' posters on the walls but the greatest waste is the waste that we do not see. Waste is not stopped by slogans and in most cases the challenge is to 'FIND WASTE'. 

A 'Walk Around' is the simplest way to find where waste is occurring. You can use tools such as waste mapping, process flow sheets and cause and effect analysis to help assess and quantify the locations and cost of waste. These tools will help to identify the inputs and outputs of each process stage and give an estimate of the potential savings to be made. Details of all of these tools are available from Envirowise (see box for list of free resources). 

How much being wasted?

Management depends on measurements. Without measurements, you cannot manage. Start to measure the waste created so that the reduction programme can be seen to generate savings and improve profitability. Initial measurements also help to identify areas for cost effective investment and rapid improvement. A waste account is used to measure the cost of waste to the business and to record the savings from waste minimisation. A waste account will produce an annual waste balance sheet and an annual savings report to justify further investment to reduce waste and improve profits.

 'Fast Starts'

The previous actions will have identified the areas for the quickest returns at the lowest cost or biggest savings ('Fast Starts') but do not start too many projects at once. It is the projects you finish that will score points, not the projects you start! Use the waste tools to identify the easy targets for quick returns.


Envirowise is a government-funded programme, dedicated to helping UK companies to be more profitable, and to boost national competitiveness by minimising waste and promoting sound environmental practices. The programme is totally independent and its waste minimisation advice, reference and best practice sharing products and service are absolutely free. 

 Waste Minimisation - Free Resources for Glass and Glazing

Helpline: 0800 585 794 - Call the Helpline to get free copies of all books, software and videos and to arrange consultancy visits.


  • Waste minimisation in the glass and glazing industry (GG263).
  • Cutting costs by reducing waste - A self-help guide for growing businesses (GG38C).
  • Cutting costs by reducing waste - Running a workshop to stimulate action (GG106).
  • Waste minimisation pays: Five business reasons for reducing waste (GG125).
  • Finding hidden profit - 200 practical tips for reducing waste (ET30).
  • Finding hidden profit for smaller companies (GG253).
  • Unpack those hidden savings - 120 tips on reducing packaging use and costs (ET250).
  • Waste mapping - Your route to more profit (ET219).
  • Waste account - Count the cost of waste for your business..and measure your savings (ET225).
  • Profiting from practical waste minimisation - Running a workshop to maintain the momentum (GG174).
  • Cutting costs and waste by reducing packaging use (GG140).
  • Preventing waste in production: practical methods for process control (GG224).
  • Preventing waste in production: industry examples (GG223).
  • Green Officiency - Running a cost-effective, environmentally aware office (GG256).


  • Waste Minimisation Interactive Tools (WIMIT) - Software tool to prompt ideas for waste minimisation in industry.


  • A Fresh Pair of Eyes - Identifying waste minimisation opportunities (V127).
  • Cutting costs by reducing waste.

Publications List

  • Get the Publications List to see what else could be useful to your business.

Web site:

Consultancy Visits

  • Free Fast-Track visits are available to small to medium companies who meet certain criteria. Contact the Helpline for details.

Last edited: 11/03/10

Tangram Technology Ltd. 2002

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