Waste Hunt is a six-step tool to help you identify and remove some of the waste/costs from your day-to-day operation.

The aim is to give you and your team activities and tips to help you improve your operational efficiency by identifying and addressing things that cause waste every day.

You will be challenged to find solutions that are minimal cost and have a positive impact on the team as well as the farm business.

Waste Hunt will step you through a structured process, which you can complete at whatever speed works for you and your team. You will get the best results by working through the process in a systematic way and completing the exercises in each step before you start on the next step.

Getting started with a Waste Hunt Challenge

After signing up and completing an initial assessment to benchmark where you are now, you'll receive weekly emails to help you stay focused. These will provide you with the link to the next step in the process.

Once you've worked through the weekly activities, you'll be ready for the next step.

Finally, you'll redo the assessment at the end of the challenge to see how things have changed.

Waste Hunt Challenge sign up

In the last 7 days, have you or any of your team had to:

  • Wait for anything? e.g. information, cows, someone else, a breakdown, equipment
  • Search for a tool or piece of equipment, information or a person?
  • Redo a job because it wasn't done properly?
  • Throw away something because of a defect? e.g. product, drugs, milk, broken tools or equipment.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you and your team will benefit from taking the Waste Hunt Challenge.

Sign up and get started with Waste Hunt

The Six Steps of Waste Hunt

Waste Hunt - Step 1 - Learn about waste

This is a team activity and you will get the best results from all getting involved. There are a few ground rules you must follow and these are listed below. Print this ground rules list out, add some of your own rules and put it on the wall where it can remind you as you work through the activities.

Ground rules

  • Everyone needs to contribute
  • Everyone has something to offer
  • Be open to change
  • Don’t justify your position
  • Keep focused on the outcome
  • Listen
  • This is everyone’s responsibility
  • Together Everyone Achieves More
  • You need to invest time to save time

We often don’t realise how much waste we have in our day-to-day operations. Some things are obvious like out-of-date products and drugs, breakages, and lost tools. Other things are less obvious like waiting for information to do a job, or the second herd to arrive.

You might think these things aren’t big and don’t happen that often, however, you would be surprised how lots of little things add up and often there can be significant amounts of time and money lost out of the system every day.

What difference would it make to your team if you could all save 30 minutes a day by changing a few things?

Initial assessment

Doing an assessment at the start of the process will give you a benchmark to measure the progress you make.

Download the Waste Hunt Assessment, complete it and keep it as your benchmark.

You're now ready to move on to Step 2


Waste Hunt - Step 2 - Finding waste

Waste can be described as actions or activities that don't add value to the job you're doing. This step is all about finding waste.

Waiting for broken equipment to be fixed before you can do a job, searching for the correct spanner to tighten a loose fitting, redoing a job that wasn’t done correctly the first time and throwing away a product because it is out of date or damaged are all examples of waste.

Waste often leads to higher costs, frustration, decreased productivity and can impact negatively on safety.

In order to eliminate, isolate or minimise waste effectively, it is helpful to work through a systematic process.

Process for finding waste:

  1. Working as a team identify an activity to focus on e.g. milking.
  2. Use the Waste Hunt Target table to identify as many ‘wastes’ as you can. These might be things that happen all of the time like waiting for the treatment cows, or things that just happen sometimes like running out of drugs to treat a sick cow. Use the '4 Wastes' headings to help you.
    1. Search (looking for information and material)
    2. Wait (process waiting)
    3. Redo (inefficient process and procedure)
    4. Defect (information and material)
  3. Note down what you think is causing the waste but don't spend too much time on this as we will cover this in Step 3.
  4. Work out what the benefits of fixing each of the wastes will be and fill in this section
  5. Once you have done this in one area, pick another area to focus on and follow the same process.
  6. Encourage the team to keep adding to the list during the week. See how many new wastes you can come up with each day. Remember these are opportunities for improvement, so the more the better.

Potential traps!

  • Don’t try to solve anything or justify why things happen the way they do. At this stage the idea is to capture as many problems as you can…we will turn these problems into opportunities through the challenge.
  • Getting defensive about how things are done or trying to solve the problem immediately, can sidetrack you from the overall purpose of identifying waste in your business and finding low cost, sustainable solutions to address the real reason these occur.

Tip: Make it a competition to see how many ‘opportunities’ or problems you can find

Once you have completed the above, you are now ready for Step 3


Waste Hunt - Step 3 - Identifying the cause

Week three of the challenge is to identify the true or real cause of the waste you found in step two.

This is a very important step and we often don’t take the time to investigate what the root of the issue is, jumping straight to the solution.

The trouble with this approach is that ‘quick fix’ solutions may not address the real cause, leading to the problem reoccurring or even getting worse.

Finding the cause is easier if you work through a systematic process.

Process for identifying the real cause

  1. Working as a team, describe the problem in more detail
    e.g. a high number of cows coming up lame. Despite everyone being really careful to follow best practice when bringing the cows in, the problem seems to be getting worse, not better.
  2. Gather evidence or data to help with decision-making
    e.g. are the lame cows showing up with white line, stone bruising, sole penetration? How many cows with each type of lameness, what % of lame cows are coming from each herd?
  3. Brainstorm the real cause by asking 'why' questions.
  4. Keep asking 'why' questions until you all agree that you have identified the real problem.
  5. Write down the real cause on your Waste Hunt worksheet.

Potential Trap!

  • The real issue can be hidden behind perceived issues or symptoms. The risk is that we address the symptom and the real cause doesn’t get resolved. Stay focused on finding the real cause.

Eliminate or minimise?

Now decide if it is possible to eliminate or minimise the waste.

  • Eliminate

    Means there is an obvious, low-cost, solution to remove the waste.

    E = Eliminate the waste immediately – this is a good option for any problem that can be solved quickly through a low-cost solution.


    • moving items that you use all the time closer to where they are used - reduces search and time waste.
    • writing up the jobs for the next day before you finish work, so staff don’t need to wait or go hunting for a manager to find out what to do – reduces search and time waste.
    • getting a second scrubbing brush so more than one person can clean at once – reduces time waste.
    • fix the yard wash or backing gate if it isn’t working properly – reduces time waste.
  • Minimise

    If more time or cost is required to implement your change, you may choose to minimise temporarily until a long-term solution can be put in place.

    M = Minimise the waste until you can resolve it later – this is a good option for problems that require a more technical solution, investigation into best solution or some expenditure to resolve. It may be possible to apply a temporary low cost solution.


    • resurfacing the entry or exit into the dairy to improve cow flow.
    •  Anything that requires an infrastructure upgrade.

Once you have completed the above, you are now ready to move on to Step 4


Waste Hunt - Step 4 - Reducing waste, getting organised

This week’s challenge is to start reducing the waste you have found and identifying cost-effective solutions.

You will find that a big chunk of your waste can be solved by setting up better systems and getting organised. Systems are covered in the next step, this week we focus on getting organised.

A cluttered workplace usually results in searching, waiting, and defect waste. It also contributes to an unsafe work environment.

Come up with solutions that permanently fix the waste rather than a ‘quick fix’ sticking plaster approach.

This is easier to achieve if you work through a systematic process, see the steps to getting organised below.

Steps to getting organised

  1. Team
    • Everyone needs to get involved
    • Focus on one area at a time
    • Take before photos
  2. Tidy up
    • Decide who will make the hard decisions
    • Do you use it frequently? Yes = put it in work area
    • Do you use it occasionally? Yes = put it in holding area
    • If you don’t use it occasionally can you return, sell or recycle it?
    • If not then it’s rubbish so REMOVE IT
  3. Throw out rubbish
    • Set up a system for managing rubbish effectively, recycle if you can
  4. Give it a home
    • If you use it regularly then locate the item at the point of use
    • Giving items a permanent home near where you use them will stop people having to go ‘hunting for them’
    • Label the location or use a picture to show what it should look like
  5. Team
    • Take after photos
    • Agree how you will maintain this new organised workplace

Potential Traps!

  • Keeping things you really don’t need because you ‘might need it one day’…chances are if you haven’t used it in a couple of years then you won’t use it at all.
  • Storage of things that aren’t used often in places that mean it gets in the way. Locate items that aren’t used often away from the main work areas.
  • Not agreeing on a permanent home and labelling it – things will get put down or put away in different places and that will lead to searching waste again.

Once you have completed the above, Step 5 is next...


Waste Hunt - Step 5 - Setting up systems

Come up with the right systems to stop waste from coming back, with Step 5 of the Waste Hunt Challenge.

As we’ve learnt, waste comes in many forms. Having good systems in place will remove waste from workplace tasks in the following ways:

  • Standardise the process and remove the waste that happens when tasks are done in different ways.
  • Lock in the changes, making them permanent work habits.
  • Set the standard and provide a way to support a consistent way of doing things
  • Staff training, minimising risks and improving health and safety   
  • Helping to hold people accountable for doing the job correctly

The best systems use simple, clear language; are very visual – using mostly pictures or diagrams, are located where the job is done (whenever possible) and can be fine-tuned as required.

Your challenge is to come up with the right systems, which have the right amount of detail to be useful and relevant. It is easier if you work through a systematic process and to help with this we've outlined the steps to setting up systems below.

Steps to setting up systems

  1. Involve the team
    • They are usually the ones doing the job every day so will have ideas on how to do it more efficiently.
    • If your team is involved in developing the system, they will ‘own’ it and are more likely to follow it.
  2. Identify the areas that need systems, these might be areas that;
    • Have a big impact on the business if not done properly – e.g. vat wash
    • Have to be done a certain way because of Health and Safety
    • You have identified as having a lot of waste associated with them
  3. Identify the steps in the process
    • Keep these to task level and as simple as possible
  4. Detail the steps
    • If possible take photos of each step done properly
    • Write notes to clarify each step as simply as possible
  5. Test the system to make sure it works
    • Test with an experienced person
    • Test with newest person on the team
  6. Put system at point of use

  7. Review the system after a week or so to make sure it makes sense

Potential Traps!

  • Including too much detail and too many words in your system description
  • Not including the team when setting up the system, the team needs to ‘own’ the system

Once you have completed the above, you can now move on to Step 6


Waste Hunt - Step 6 - Maintaining improvements

The biggest challenge is turning a focus on waste reduction into something the team does every day so it just becomes part of the way you do things.

As a team come up with some ways you can keep focused on waste reduction, some examples are;

  • Redo your waste hunt exercise monthly to identify new waste.
  • Make waste a permanent agenda item at your weekly staff meetings.
  • Review your systems regularly and schedule a process to do so.
  • What are some others your team can think of?

Now you have been through the challenge, redo the assessment from Step 1 and see what changes have occurred.


You've successfully navigated your way through the six weeks of the Waste Hunt challenge and we're sure you'll be pleased with the positive changes.

Why not pick a new activity to focus on and start again from Step 2? You'll be amazed at how much waste you can find all across your business.


Before and after examples of Waste Hunt in action

Example 1: Before

Example 2: Before

Example 1: After

Example 2: After

Visual systems examples located where the job is done

Example 1: What it should look like

Example 3: What it shoud look like

Example 2: What is should look like

Example 4: What it should look like