19) March 18 Clean production
Thorpe, Beverley, Clean Production Network (1999). Citizen’s Guide to Clean Production.
This is the first lecture in the final section: What more might be done?
Class topics in this section are organized from mainstream (solutions already being implemented
in part) to radical (proposed but not yet acted on, even in part).
I suggest that we approach each class topic by means of these questions.
1. What is the proposed solution? how can we best understand it?
2. What are the solution's implications? If fully implemented, how would the solution contribute
to addressing the environmental problem?
3. How likely is implementation of the solution?
. what are the drivers, factors pushing toward implementation?
. what are the barriers?
. what is needed to multiply the drivers and reduce the barriers?
We start with the basic model of the production process (previously discussed); see Figures 1, 2,
3, and 4 in the reading.
The basic elements in that model are:
. raw materials .... . production process ... . product design ... . disposal . demand
. energy used . solid wastes and toxics generated
. industry is willing to see its pollution and waste management regulated, but strongly resists
regulation of product design (eg auto industry resistance to fuel efficiency standards; wine
industry resistance to selling in refillable bottles) because product design is so important for
marketing and profitability
. government does not need to regulate either production process or product design, since by
regulating and pricing materials, energy and waste disposal (eg imposing surcharges which
increase current prices by a factor of ten) industry by itself will move to clean production: that is
a radical solution which no government will contemplate
. government can also use regulatory bans - mandating that certain substances (eg, DDT, CFCs)
cannot be sold as material inputs to production or that certain materials cannot go to disposal (eg,
p. 424 New Jersey efforts to keep batteries out of waste stream) will push industry toward clean
production; this is being done in part
▯1 . many of the changes advocated in the Thorpe reading involve information (eg, product
labelling, Life CycleAssessment); the hope is that more information will influence demand or
government policy - but that depends upon values
. the power of information also depends upon the political power of those receiving it (workers,
local communities, local governments) and so the subject of clean production inherently includes
democracy (eg, community right to know)
What is the proposed solution?
. means of manufacturing products so as to:
. use less material and energy
. produce less toxic substances, as pollution and as wastes from the products
OECD (2007). Business and Environment: Policy Incentives and Corporate Responses. Paris:
OECD. p. 77 Glossary “Clean Production – manufacturing processes that minimise
environmental impacts (e.g. low use of energy and raw materials, low emissions and waste)
through changes in production process.”
. based in a circular rather than one-way conceptualization of the production process
. reading presents it as based in four principles
. precautionary principle
. preventive principle
. holistic approach
. subject limited to manufacture of products; thus less attention to other aspects of the problem,
eg agricultural production of food; resource extraction; habit loss due to fragmentation by
. no attention at all paid to population growth, per capita consumption, views of nature
. no attention (perhaps because published 1999) to fact that product manufacture has largely
moved toAsia due to lower labour costs, reducing ability of citizens and governments to apply
pressure to industry
▯2 clean production, due to efficiency and demand (eg, renewable energy) economic gains from
3. Strategies to promote
3.1 measure and reduce waste
3.2 require information be provided by manufacturer: right to know
. track chemicals: Toxic Release Inventory; Canada, NPRI
. life cycle assessment
. product labelling