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Over the years we’ve been getting more innovative, and in some cases more eccentric, when it comes to closed-loop recycling, waste up-cycling and, well, just generally finding weird yet wonderful uses of our waste.  As we strive for more lean manufacturing processes by adopting lean principles such as continuous improvement, here are some inspirational examples of how others have embraced the philosophy of Kaizen.

#1 –  Coffee fueled London Buses

Yes, you read correctly.   With the average Londoner drinking 2.3 cups of coffee a day, according to bio-bean, the London Bus is the perfect guinea pig.  Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and clean technology company bio-bean announced in November the new bio-fuel.   Coffee grounds from high street coffee chains and factories, dried and then converted into bio-fuel.   The new fuel, which contains part coffee oil, can be used without the need for engine modification. That’s pure closed-loop recycling genius – we just need to fix the whole single use coffee cup problem and the humble coffee bean could be turning wheels nationwide.

Thankfully, the UK government are calling for a 25p ‘latte levy’ on top of the price of the coffee to help fund a recycling solution to the 2.5bn single use coffee cups we currently throw away each year.

One solution already available is who claim to be the UK’s ONLY collection and recycling service dedicated to turning paper and plastic cups into second-life materials.

Alternatively, we may find ourselves using edible coffee cups.  Three friends in Bulgaria have come up with the Cupffee: the edible cup

Kaizen principles to solve single use coffee cup crisis

#2 – Buddhist Temple Made of Beer Bottles

Yes, again, you read correctly.  The Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple in the Sisaket province of Thailand is made from over one million recycled green and brown glass beer bottles. The monks accomplished two goals in one by cleaning up local pollution and creating a useful structure for themselves. Everything from the water tower to the tourist bathroom is made from Heineken and Chang beer bottles.

Buddhist Temple Made of Beer Bottles A Buddhist Temple Made of Beer Bottles

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#3 – Poo Power

Dog poo.  You’re never too far away from it, but what to do with it.  Usually, you’ll find it stuffed in a plastic bag and then flung over a hedge (if you’re lucky).

A poodle poop genius’ at Sanivation installs blue box plastic containers in customers’ homes for free, then charges a monthly fee of 700 Kenya shillings (£5) to collect the waste.  The contents of the poop box are then heated to kill dangerous bacteria and turn it into odour-less charcoal balls, sold in supermarkets under the brand Eco Flame.   

As a result, less trees are felled to cook food for the 44 million people in Kenya, who are rapidly depleting carbon dioxide absorbing trees.  An incredible and sustainable solution to a global problem.


continuous improvement processes

Are you applying principles of continuous improvement in every area of your business?

Hopefully, this article shows the limitless ways in which others are adopting lean principles to pretty much any situation or problem.  Change your thinking – adopt a culture of continuous improvement in your business, fix what bugs you and see the benefits of being LEAN. 

At Unisan UK, we offer recycling solutions to ensure sustainability and continuous improvement. We know people want to do the right thing, so why make it hard. That’s why we provide game-changing solutions that help our customers to think differently about recycling & hygiene at work and ensure it is easy for them to make the right choice.



Recycling laws in Wales have changed. Is your business compliant?