Industry and businesses do not operate in vacuum. They respond to the business environment, and especially to those signals, which are perceived to be impacting them either beneficially or adversely. It is this mix of threats and opportunities that conditions the corporate behaviour.
The Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production assessment methodology is used to systematically identify and evaluate the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production opportunities and facilitate their implementation in industries.
The main steps of a Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production assessment are outlined below. This procedure is useful in organising the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production programme in a company and bringing together persons to be involved with the development, evaluation, and implementation of RECP measures. A key feature to successfully achieve a resource efficient, cleaner and safer enterprise, is monitoring of performance improvements both in terms of increased resource productivity, as well as in terms of decreased pollution intensity. In this respect the joint UNEP & UNIDO RECP programme has developed a guide for Enterprise Level Indicators for Resource Productivity and Pollution Intensity. The Guide is mainly tailored to SMEs; it provides a core set of enterprise level resource productivity and pollution intensity indicators, and explains how these indicators can be applied and how they can be used to initiate RECP and document results.
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Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production assessment is most often divided in five phases. It should be noted that the same methodology can be applied to reduce risks and energy consumption.
Planning and organisation starts once one or a few persons in the company become interested in Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production. A Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production assessment can be initiated after a conscious decision has been made by the management to take action.
Experience from a growing number of companies
shows that the following elements are important for the successful
start of a Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production programme:
An organised approach is necessary to identify, evaluate and implement Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production opportunities. Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production assessments are undertaken with a view to avoid or at least reduce the generation of waste and emissions. Moreover, it is expected that these options will in turn change existing management and information systems, and thus support and facilitate further Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production activities.
Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production planning is a systematic, comprehensive method for identifying options to reduce or avoid the generation of waste. The Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production planning process itself also has its own results and benefits:
During the Assessment Phase the material balance is studied, and appropriate measures are proposed to reduce or prevent loss of materials.
During the phase the project team uses all means possible to identify Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production options. The ideas for options may come from a literature search, personal knowledge, discussions with suppliers, examples in other companies, specialised data bases, or some further R&D. Brainstorming is an indispensable tool to ensure creative intellectual environment to think of all possibilities.
Generating options is a creative process that relies more on inspiration than on logical deduction (although logic remains important). The brainstorming session is a combination of creativity and 'common sense'. Before starting a brainstorming session, literature or other organisations and companies should be consulted, and a site inspection should take place so the generation of options will be more productive. One should, hereby, focus on all influences of the process that could lead to the generation of wastes and emissions. Brainstorming sessions have proved to be most effective when managers, engineers, process-operators and other employees as well as some outside consultants work together without hierarchical constraints.
It should be noted that during a Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production assessment a number of obvious possibilities for immediate improvements may already have been identified. In order to go further, it is often helpful to conceptually divide the process into three essential elements: source identification followed by cause diagnosis, and option generation.
The purpose of the next logical step (option generation) is to create a vision on how to eliminate or control each of the causes of waste and emission generation. The generic prevention practices specified before are used to develop appropriate Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production options. After Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production options have been identified, they are evaluated following the same procedure used for evaluation of other investments or technical innovation options. The option generation consists of several elements, as pictured below. The option generating process then considers each element in turn.
Change in raw materials
Changes in raw materials accomplish Cleaner Production by reducing or eliminating the hazardous materials that enter the production process. Also, changes in input materials can be made to avoid the generation of hazardous wastes within the production process. Input material changes include material purification and material substitution.Technology change
Technology changes are oriented towards process and equipment modifications to reduce waste and emissions, preliminary in a production setting. Technology changes can range from minor changes that can be implemented in a matter of days at low cost, to the replacement of processess involving large capital costs. These include the following: ·
Good operating practices, also referred to as good housekeeping practices, imply procedural, administrative, or institutional measures that a company can use to minimize waste and emissions. Many of these measures are used in industry largely as efficiency improvements and good management practices. Good operating practices can often be implemented with little cost. These practices can be implemented in all areas of the plant, including production, maintenance operations, and in ray material and product storage. Good operating practices include the following:
Product changes are performed by the manufacturer of a product with the intention of reducing waste and emissions resulting from a product's use. Product changes include: ·
Product changes can lead to changes in design or composition. The new product can thus have less environmental impacts throughout its life cycle: from raw material extraction to final disposal.
On-site reuse and recycling
Recycling or reuse involves the return of a waste material either to the originating process as a substitute for an input material, or to another process as an input material. Generating appropriate prevention options is a creative step; the information collected is used as a guidance in this creative process. The most important items to consider within this process are:
The feasibility studies have to prove whether each of the (non-obviously feasible) options is technically and economically feasible and whether it contributes to the environmental improvement.
The feasibility studies can be divided to five tasks discussed below.Preliminary Evaluation
The options are sorted in order to identify additional evaluation needs. Managerial options do not always require a technical evaluation, while equipment-based options do. Similarly, simple options normally do not require an environmental evaluation, while complex options do. Finally, cheap options do not require a detailed economic evaluation, while expensive options may.Technical Evaluation
The technical evaluation consists of two interrelated parts. First, it should be evaluated whether the option can be put in practice. This requires a check on the availability and reliability of equipment, the effect on product quality and productivity, the expected maintenance and utility requirements and the necessary operating and supervising skills. Second, the changes in the technical specifications can be converted into a projected materials balance, reflecting the input and output material flows and energy requirements after implementation of the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production option. The options that do not need capital expenditure, e.g. housekeeping measures, can often be implemented quickly. It is a typical fast-track approach. If capital investment is needed for the chosen option, it is advisable to appoint an ad-hoc group of experts, to make a technical evaluation based on selected evaluation criteria. Raw material, equipment or process changes are expensive and may effect changes in production line or product quality. Therefore, technical evaluation of such option requires more complex investigation.Economic Evaluation
The economic evaluation consists at least of data collection (regarding investments and operational costs, and benefits), choice between evaluation criteria (pay back period. Net Present Value (NPV) or Internal Rate of Return) and feasibility calculations. The economic data collection builds upon the results of the technical evaluation. In order to properly incorporate the long term economic advantages of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production, it is highly recommendable to apply Total Cost Assessment principles to the economic evaluation (especially for high cost options).Environmental Evaluation
The objective of environmental evaluation is to determine the positive and negative impacts of the option for the environment. An environmental evaluation must take into account the whole life-cycle of a product or service. There are essentially two types of life-cycle analyses: quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative method involves developing a set of criteria against which the environmental impact of a product can be measured and then actually measuring it against these criteria. Criteria may be developed using parameters such as: the cost of disposal or clean-up of the wastes generated at all stages in the life-cycle; the amount or cost of energy used at all stages in the life cycle; etc. The other, qualitative approach, is more useful for this assessment. It involves drawing up a matrix of environmental issues vs life cycle stages.Selection of Feasible Options
First, the technically non-feasible options and the options without a significant environmental benefit can be eliminated. All remaining options can in principle be implemented. However, a selection is required in case of competing options or in case of limited funds.
In the last phase, the feasible prevention measures are implemented and provisions taken to ensure the ongoing application of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production. The development of such an ongoing programme requires monitoring and evaluation of the results achieved by the implementation of the first group of prevention measures.
The expected result of this phase is threefold:
To achieve this result, the following tasks should be implemented:
Barriers for Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production From The Perspective of Industries
Despite attractive economics and significant reductions in environmental impacts, the widespread adoption of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production still remains limited. Several studies have addressed the barriers for the adoption of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production at the level of individual enterprises, and most often categorised these as: