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Cleaner Production

Author: National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC)

( Article Type: Explanation )

Cleaner Production (CP) is a term of increasing importance since the Johannesburg 2002 World Conference on Sustainable Development. It is defined by the UN as ‘the continuous application of an integrated preventive strategy applied to processes, products and services so as to increase eco-efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment’.

For production processes, Cleaner Production results largely from one or a combination of: conserving raw materials, water and energy; eliminating toxic and dangerous raw materials; reducing the quantity and toxicity of all emissions and wastes at source during the production process.

For products, Cleaner Production aims to reduce the environmental, health and safety impacts of products over their entire life cycles, from raw materials extraction, through manufacturing and use, to the ‘ultimate’ disposal of the product. For services, Cleaner Production implies incorporating environmental concerns into designing and delivering services.

Cleaner Production involves simple strategies ranging from good housekeeping to more technology-driven strategies such as new product or process design and technology transfer. This is a holistic and integrated approach to environmental protection because it addresses the challenges of sustainable development at several levels.

The concept of Cleaner Production has been known to be an effective tool to empower industry to perform above compliance levels. South Africa is reaching new heights in terms of recognising it as a cross-cutting strategy for: efficient performance; reduction of resource usage; to improve the competitiveness of industry; and to gain access to new markets.

A National Cleaner Production Strategy for South Africa is in the process of being drafted. The Strategy is envisioned to support sustainable development and the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans through a structured approach to integrated pollution and waste management that utilises the economic, regulatory and technical principles and tools of Cleaner Production for the effective reduction of resource usage and minimisation of the impacts of pollution and waste on the natural environment and on human health.

Cleaner Production has demonstrated itself as an effective component towards the realisation of the concept of sustainable development. In a developing country such as South Africa, the environmental concerns have to be balanced by considerations for economic growth and job creation. Cleaner Production typically results in a ‘win-win’ strategy for protecting the environment and reducing the potential risks to the environment and human health, without underplaying the importance of economic development.

Associated Sustainable Development Articles:

Sustainable Development ~ Manufacturing