The oil spill is now estimated to pouring up to 40 million barrels into the Gulf of Mexico.  At four times that of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, this makes it the worst environmental disaster in US history, and one of the worst oil spills in the world.

This waste has already cost BP over $45 billion as their stock price is now the lowest it’s been in over two decades, dropping over 30% since the Gulf disaster began April 20th.

And that is only the beginning.

In addition to spending almost $1 billion, BP is facing up to another $14 billion in clean up costs, according to managing director of ClearView Energy Partners’ Kevin Book’s estimate in this week’s New York Times.

Not to mention the 150+ lawsuits already filed against BP and other various partners in the Gulf spill, with legions more lawsuits to follow.

None of this, of course, calculates the loss of consumer confidence in BP.  Or trust.  We can only speculate the impact this will have on BP in the years to come.

No one will ever be able to calculate all this waste generated by the Gulf oil spill.  Wasted energy, time, livelihoods, resources, biodiversity, productivity and reputations are just a few that immediately come to mind.

“Waste is any measurable cost that goes into our product [or service] that does not add value to our customer, “ explains Ray Anderson founder of multi-billion-dollar Interface, in his book Confessions of a Radical Industrialist.

Where are you wasting in your business?

I am willing to bet there is a tremendous amount of waste going on in your business.  In any business, for that matter.  All have an impact to everyone involved.

Where to look for waste in your business:

  • Time—your and other people’s time.  Where you spend time vs. where you should to grow your business.  For example, e-mails, technology glitches, endless meetings, etc.
  • Energy—a) yours/your staff’s:  wasted on poorly planned and or executed business strategies, and b) environmental: traveling to meetings (flying, driving, etc.) using fossil fuels instead of using video conferences, lack of energy-efficiency in your office or production process (see below), and so on.
  • Production—any materials you do not use and are thrown away when making your product or performing your service.  Examples:  “cuttings” from making your product, you end up throwing away instead of reusing or repurposing.  Or not having an efficient system for servicing a client and taking too long to generate what they hired you to do.
  • Administration—lack of systems or structures to keep the business moving smoothly.  For example, incorrect billing, not managing follow-throughs, delayed return phone calls, poorly managed bookkeeping sales and expense forecasting and cash flow planning.
  • Marketing—missed opportunities in sales leads, lack of sales and marketing plans and unnecessary marketing “collateral” (brochures, business cards, handouts, etc.)

Here’s the thing about waste:  when managed effectively, you do way, way, WAY more than reduce your carbon footprint.  You reduce your expenses and most likely increase your revenue.  Substantially.

If you ever question the impact of business-generated waste, just remember the impact of BP’s waste in the Gulf of Mexico going on right now.

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