There are at least five challenges that need to be addressed to assure that cleaner production technologies meet the expectations of those who promote a sustainable form of development.

1)Cleaner production perspective must be better integrated into the emerging technologies of the future.

Those who advocate for cleaner production could simply wait and select those technologies that are appropriate as they emerge or they could take a more pro-active approach. This could mean that cleaner production programs should work directly with technology suppliers to encourage the development and commercialization of cleaner technologies.


2)Clean production technologies must be considered from a life cycle perspective.

Production equipment is a product of a production process and, thus, needs to be subjected to a full analysis over their life cycle. Energy efficient heaters and pumps and re-circulating water systems are assembled from processed materials, distributed to customers, used on site and, eventually, disposed as they wear out or are replaced by higher performing equipment.

3)Special attention needs to be paid to the recycling of production equipment.

If new cleaner technologies result in the replacement of existing equipment, it is important to consider where and how that equipment is recycled or disposed. Among countries in the industrializing world, there is a ready market for used production equipment even when, and especially where, such equipment is priced low because it is not state-of-the-art and it may no longer be permitable in industrialized countries.

4)Cleaner production technologies must be occupationally safe as well as environmentally sound.
Recent studies have shown that cleaner production programs that are not sensitive to workplace issues can result in the adoption of technologies that increase hazards for workers. Recent events have also raised that importance of chemical process safety and security.

5)Cleaner production technologies must respect the lives of those who work with them.
The technologies should be human-centred and offer opportunities for flexibility and tailoring, for skill development and human creativity. Closer attention to the organization of work and so-called “human factors” has been shown to offer physical, psychological and social benefits to those who use technologies.

Reference: UNEP’s 7th International High-level Seminar on Cleaner Production


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