Understanding Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production

 

 
Key Elements

Analysis of the efforts during the last decades demonstrates a clear evolution in the general attitude of governments and industry regarding protection of the environment in a positive sense. This is perhaps due to the development of win-win strategies, as described in the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production programme.

Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production describes a preventative approach to environmental management. It is neither a legal nor a scientific definition to be dissected, analysed or subjected to theoretical disputes. It is a broad term that encompasses what some countries/institutions call eco-efficiency, waste minimisation, pollution prevention, or green productivity.

However, it also includes something extra :

Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production refers to a mentality of how goods and services are produced with the minimum environmental impact under present technological and economic limits.

Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production does not deny growth, it merely insists that growth be ecologically sustainable. It should not be considered only as environmental strategy, because it also relates to economic considerations.

In this context, waste is considered as a 'product' with negative economic value. Each action to reduce consumption of raw materials and energy, and prevent or reduce generation of waste, can increase productivity and bring financial benefits to enterprise.

Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production is a 'win-win' strategy. It protects the environment, the consumer and the worker while improving industrial efficiency, profitability, and competitiveness.

The key difference between pollution control and Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production is one of timing. Pollution control is an after-the-event, 'react and treat' approach. Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production is a forward-looking, 'anticipate and prevent' philosophy.