Heavy industries have a major impact on the
environment. Environmentally sound technologies
are the key to improving their performance, and
mitigating the pollution they cause.
Cleaner production and eco-efficiency
Cleaner production is referenced throughout Agenda 21 as an important strategy for
supporting sustainable development. It focuses on preventing pollution rather than merely
controlling it or cleaning it up after the event. In short, the goal of cleaner production is to
avoid generating pollution in the first place. This in turn can cut costs, reduce risks and
help identify new opportunities. The concept was introduced by UNEP’s Industry and
Environment Centre (UNEP IE) in 1989, and since then it has gained considerable ground
worldwide, as companies increasingly recognize the performance and financial benefits of
switching from end-of-pipe solutions. There is a growing understanding that cleaner
production – like eco-efficiency – is a win-win approach, and that it does not always require
major changes to processes and products. Often quite minor changes result in increased
financial and environmental returns.