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Application of process mapping and causal loop diagramming to enhance engagement in pollution prevention in small to medium size enterprises: case study of a dairy processing facility

Aikenhead, Graham, Farahbakhsh, Khosrow, Halbe, Johannes, Adamowski, Jan
Journal of cleaner production 2015 v.102 pp. 275-284
biochemical oxygen demand, business enterprises, case studies, cost effectiveness, cost estimates, dairies, data collection, decision making, energy, industry, interviews, managers, pollution control, raw milk
This study investigated the use of systems tools and process mapping to enhance engagement in pollution prevention (P2) within a Canadian dairy processing facility. A preliminary assessment of the facility led to the development of simplified process maps that were later applied in semi-structured interviews with frontline facility operators. The simplified process maps helped engage the frontline workers during the short (1 hour) interview process and resulted in identifying 41 areas of inefficient resource use related to product loss, water, energy, and chemical consumption, and processing/scheduling issues. Solutions to some of these P2 opportunities amounted to potential reductions in water consumption of 23,000 m3 per year and a minimum reduction of 10,300 kg per year of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) effluent discharges to the municipality. A combined estimated cost savings of over $175,000 per year is anticipated due to reduction in raw milk wastage, water consumption and BOD surcharge fines, alone. Causal loop diagrams (CLDs) constructed from semi-structured interviews showed the integrated nature of the facility's processing operations and the compounding impact of resource use inefficiency throughout this process. The CLDs also showed the potential to identify additional areas for data collection and analysis, visualize the cumulative benefits associated with implementing P2 solutions, engage more systematically the frontline workers and facility managers and be revised as new knowledge is gained or process changes are made. Both simplified process maps and causal loop diagrams can be used as effective tools for improving participation and enhanced decision making in P2 within dairy processing and other industries.