Deutsch: Verschwendung / Español: Desperdicio / Português: Desperdício / Français: Gaspillage / Italiano: Spreco

Waste in the quality management context refers to any process, action, or resource that does not add value to the product or service from the customer's perspective. In quality management, particularly within frameworks like Lean manufacturing, reducing or eliminating waste is a primary goal to increase efficiency and enhance product quality and customer satisfaction.


Waste can manifest in various forms within an organization, often categorized into specific types known by the acronym "DOWNTIME" in Lean practices: Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-utilized talent, Transportation, Inventory excess, Motion waste, and Excess processing. By identifying and eliminating these waste types, businesses aim to streamline operations, reduce costs, and improve quality.

Application Areas

Waste reduction is a critical focus in various quality management systems:

  • Lean Manufacturing: Targets waste reduction primarily through continuous improvement practices, aiming to enhance manufacturing processes by eliminating waste that does not add value to the customer.
  • Six Sigma: Combines waste reduction with a focus on reducing process variation; uses statistical methods to identify and minimize waste.
  • Total Quality Management (TQM): Focuses on long-term success through customer satisfaction where waste reduction is an inherent practice to improve quality and performance.

Well-Known Examples

  • Toyota Production System (TPS): Known for its pioneering work in waste reduction through the implementation of Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing and continuous improvement (Kaizen), which significantly minimizes inventory and work-in-process waste.
  • The 5S System: A methodology part of Lean management that organizes the workplace to reduce waste and optimize productivity through maintaining order and cleanliness.

Treatment and Risks

Effectively managing waste in quality management involves various approaches and considerations:

  • Identification: Recognizing different types of waste present in the organization through audits and continuous monitoring.
  • Analysis and Strategy Development: Analyzing why waste occurs and developing strategies to eliminate it, often using tools like Root Cause Analysis or Pareto Analysis.
  • Employee Involvement: Engaging employees at all levels to actively participate in identifying waste areas and suggesting improvements.
  • Continuous Improvement: Implementing a culture of ongoing improvement (Kaizen) where waste reduction is regularly pursued.

Similar Terms

  • Non-Value-Added Activities: Activities that do not add value to the customer and hence are considered waste.
  • Efficiency: Closely related to waste reduction, focusing on maximizing outputs from given inputs and minimizing resource use.


In the context of quality management, waste refers to unnecessary processes, materials, and actions that do not add value from the customer’s perspective. Identifying and eliminating waste is essential for improving operational efficiency, reducing costs, and enhancing the overall quality of products and services. Effective waste management not only supports sustainability but also drives better customer satisfaction and competitive advantage.


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