Money from Muda

Franc Grom, an artist from Slovakia, creates one of his intricate egg shell sculptures

Franc Grom, an artist from Slovakia, creates one of his intricate egg-shell sculptures

“Muda” in the Toyota Production System (TPS) refers to the concept of “waste” and the objective in TPS to systematically eliminate all forms of waste (e.g. wasted movement of materials, wasted human intellect, over production etc.)

In this example, we see an example of literally turning a waste by-product of a process into cash. What opportunities should your organization seize to turn a “waste” output (such as brown water, heat, materials etc.) into something useful?

According to the journal Food and Drink Business Europe, the University of Leicester is conducting research on how to use egg shells and the translucent film that lies between the egg and the shell, currently discarded when egg processors create egg-shell waste product when they produce hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise and liquid egg whites for commercial use, for money-making applications.

Scientists in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Leicester, specialising in ‘green chemistry’ and sustainable materials are looking at how to extract glycosaminoglycans, proteins which are found in egg shells. GAGs are used in numerous biomedical applications and could prove useful in the pharmaceutical industry.

They are also hoping to identify ways to use the egg shells as fillers which could be used to ‘bulk up’ different grades of plastic, with all sorts of applications from ready meal food trays to shop fittings. The ultimate goal is to use the egg shells in packaging to protect egg products – giving a second lease of life to the egg-shell in the very role it was created for – a true case of recycling.

Apparently eggshells consist of a tough, crystalline form of calcium carbonate (think chalk) that researchers think could make certain plastics more hard-wearing by adding the ground egg shells as an additive. The egg membrane, rich in keratin, might find use in medical applications such as dressings for skin wounds because keratin is also a main ingredient in human skin.

Another benefit is that the egg processor could not only get some money for something that they no throw away, but save money in reduced landfill charges. The article cites the example of a U.K. firm, Just Egg, that processes 1.5 million eggs each week and pays over $65,000 per year to have 500 tonnes of eggshells carted off to the dump.

By the way, the cool egg-shell art above is by Franc Grom; here’s a video profile:

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