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The Environmental Integration Initiative

Chapter 3

Introduction to Cleaner Production
Cleaner production is not an absolute state, but is continually evolving as new knowledge, improved technology, and changing attitudes are applied in the production and delivery of products and services.


hat is Cleaner Production?

Cleaner production is a phrase used to describe a preventive environmental strategy for industrial production that reduces risks to human health and the environment. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines cleaner production as "the conceptual and procedural approach to production that demands that all phases of the life cycle of a product or of a process should be addressed with the objective of prevention or minimization of short- and long-term risks to humans and the environment." UNEP's concept of cleaner production is similar to the concept of pollution prevention as defined today by the United Stated Environmental Protection Agency. Cleaner production applies to both products and processes. Cleaner products are those designed to reduce impacts throughout their entire life cycle, from raw material extraction to ultimate disposal of the product and packaging. Cleaner production processes conserve raw material and energy, eliminate toxic materials, and are adjusted, changed, or upgraded to reduce the generation of wastes and emissions.

Where did the concept come from?

The concept grew from efforts in Europe in the 1970s to promote "low- and no-waste technologies." In 1989, to assist developing countries in obtaining information on cleaner industrial practices, UNEP's Industry and Environmental Programme established the Cleaner Production Programme to promote the transfer of technology. An advisory group adopted the phrase "cleaner production" because it suggested a more comprehensive approach.

Volume 1 Chapter 3

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Created by the Environmental Integration Initiative
Revised: 05/03/02

Online manual developed by Greg Geyer and MPWM