Keystones for attainment eco-efficiency of clean production icon

Keystones for attainment eco-efficiency of clean production




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KEYSTONES FOR ATTAINMENT ECO-EFFICIENCY OF CLEAN PRODUCTION

Alla Dmytrenko

Sumy State University, Sumy, Ukraine


The World Business Council for Sustainable Development guideline ‘reduce toxic dispersion’ is the weakest formulation of the seven and reflects the vigour with which some branches of the global industry have defended their products in spite of their prevalent unsafe for environment. Clean production is one way in which eco-efficiency has been put into effect. Yet the pressure to develop green chemicals and alternative non-toxic products has been intense and increasingly successful. Environmental pressure has forced the phasing out of different toxic products At the same time new products have been developed – as alternatives to banned and threatened substances While the Stockholm Convention covers only twelve out of the 70,000 chemicals now in use, this should not diminish its importance. It lays down a marker for greener production. It shows a readiness to phase out toxic materials whatever their economic significance, and it means the eyes of the world now have the full range of chemicals in their sights.

“Eco-Efficiency” conception opens with the following explanations:

  • reduce the material intensity of goods and services

  • reduce the energy intensity of goods and services

  • reduce toxic dispersion

  • enhance material recyclability

  • maximise sustainable use of renewable resources

  • extend product durability

  • increase the service intensity of products

Following these guidelines can give companies a competitive head-start into the next century – but not if they are treated as an add-on to “business as usual”… Eco-efficiency does require a profound change in their theory and practice of core business activities. All seven of the above principles bear on the goals of ‘Zero Waste’. ‘Zero Waste’ has become one of the watchwords of eco-efficiency. In the words of Edgar Woolard Jr, former chairman of DuPont, “The goal is zero: zero accidents, zero waste, zero emissions.’

Not only three main theses underline principle of eco-efficiency: reduce, reuse and recycle (famous 3R) but repair, remanufacture, refine and so on as well.

There are four strategic paths that are being pursued, each running alongside and reinforcing the others.

1^ . Production avoidance. There are many spheres of the economy (such as transport, water and waste) where production can be avoided through smart systems. At the level of systems, this involves the redesign of ‘productive systems’ so that they require fewer material inputs to produce a desired outcome.

2^ . Extended product life. This can be achieved by concentrating on another series of ‘re-s’ – repair, re-manufacture, re-covering, refining and reuse. To facilitate these, increased product life needs to be incorporated in the initial design. For example the cost of repair can be lowered through the modularising of design and the automation of fault diagnostics. The modularising of components across products will help repair and remanufacture. In cases where product life is heavily influenced by changes in appearance (fashion) rather than functional operation, products can be designed to allow for skin changes or re­covering. Dynamic modularisation allows technical advances to be incorporated into a re-covered product.

Activities such as repair can be carried out by the user, but repair is most likely to be expanded if it is made the responsibility of the original producer. If a producer’s goal is to extend product life (and the market should be shaped so that there is an incentive to do so), then we should expect there to be an increase in the leasing, rather than selling, of durable goods. Leasing would encourage long life design, and allow the manufacturer to plan the periodic activities such as maintenance, overhaul, re-skinning and so forth, that are necessary for continued product effectiveness. In the case of refining (of oils and solvents for example) renting the substances allows the manufacturer to remove the contaminants so that they can be reused.

3^ . Extended material life. This is where recycling is relevant. In the case of end-of-life durable goods, recycling involves the reverse engineering of the assembly or flow processes by which they were produced. Industry symposia on the subject discuss such issues as the establishment of disassembly lines, new types of binders (such as glues and solders) that can be readily cracked open, and ways of decomposing composites or replacing them with recyclable materials. These processes are again often best undertaken by the original producers (using take-back, buy-back or leasing arrangements of the original commodities). They can then use more expensive but longer lasting materials (which would otherwise be lost to scrap) and ‘learn from undoing’ in order to revise product design to ease disassembly and recycling.

4. Increased product utilisation. Many durable products are severely underused. One approach to increasing utilisation is through share schemes, like Lufthansa’s car pool, or user friendly hire schemes. Another is through actual or de facto borrowing or leasing schemes. The disposable camera is one example; another would be the supply of equipment from a leasing company on request. These are all means of improving resource productivity, defined as an increase in outcomes per unit of material input.

Results of these strategies are the emergence of a ‘new service economy’ in which manufacturers sell not commodities but service packages to achieve required outcomes. Manufacturing is transformed into a branch of the service sector, producing goods that are judged primarily on their performance as part of a service package.

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