The enhanced productivities and improved services to the customers have also been accompanied by an exponential growth in consumerism. One cannot say whether the increased wants and expectations on the part of the consumers have caused the business productivities and services to improve or whether the ready availability of a variety of products and services has fueled the growth in consumption levels. Both may be true. Even economically poorer countries have experienced a rapid growth in consumption levels in the recent years. Because of such situation worldwide, there have been several irreversible after effects on the environment and ecology. Forests are denuded, in several cases. Even if trees have been planted in lieu of those that have been cut, the biodiversity has been irrecoverably lost. With the loss in the quantity and quality of the forest, the immediately dependent flora and fauna have been affected. Even the likelihood of the forest dependent tribal population is affected. Mineral wealth is getting depleted. Rivers, streams, lakes, tanks and ground water have all been over used, and many a time misused and abused. Pollution of water bodies and also of air has increased to alarming levels. With the production of variety of goods and services, a variety of natural resources are getting depleted, and a variety of pollutants are being discharged into the environment causing damage to the vegetation and health problems to man and other animals. It is indeed ironic.
Lean, Mean and Green:
Productivity when seen only from the perspective of the business organization and its customers without including the environment on its consideration depletes and/or spoils the natural endowment. For instance, if a paper mill is able to produce large quantities of paper in a multiple variety, by the present criteria of evaluation it would be considered to be effective and efficient. However, it may due its efficiency in scale and scope — be also damaging the forests, soil and water bodies very ‘efficiently’. Lean production can help in putting some brakes on the depletion and damage. Therefore, lean and mean production can also be green. But this is not true for all the cases. There could be very efficient production processes on several criteria but the same processes could be detrimental to the environment and ecology. Resources productivity may not be the same as Green productivity. Therefore, it is responsibility of the production people that the processes be lean, mean and also green.
Production with Environmental Sustainability Considerations:
Nature has, in many cases, the property of regaining balance of sustaining itself despite the abuse. But, environmental sustainability has a time component to it. The rate of consumption of renewable natural resources is very important. If the rate of consumption is faster than the rate at which nature can recover and recoup, then the resource is lost to that extent. There is nothing wrong in using a natural resource as long as this precaution is taken For instance, the ‘jhum’ agriculturists (i.e. those who practice shifting cultivation) take care that they return to the same area only when it has recovered. Modern day industries show this wisdom in their practice of business. It is not only socially desirable to do so, but as mentioned it is wise and in one’s own interest to do so. Nature can be used profitably and to the comfort of the humanity of the Queuing theory variables operating in it are properly taken care of.
Despite such care, enhanced production activity can still damage the environment. The reasons are:
1. The non-renewable resources are permanently depleted.
2. There is a lack of knowledge about the renewability of various natural resources and their respective time frame for renewal.
3. Many environmental effects are felt after a generation or more; therefore, there may not be much urgency to attend to the issue.
4. There is no consensus as to ‘who’ should coordinate these environmental protection related efforts, because environmental problems are multi organizational multi regional and many a time transnational in nature. There is problem of implementation.