Principle 9

Businesses should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

What does it mean?

Environmentally sound technologies, as defined in Agenda 21 of the Rio Declaration, should protect the environment, are less polluting, use all resources in a more sustainable manner, recycle more of their wastes and products and handle residual wastes in a more acceptable manner than the technologies for which they were substitutes. They include a variety of cleaner production processes and pollution prevention technologies as well as end-of-pipe and monitoring technologies. Moreover, they include know-how, procedures, goods and services and equipment as well as organizational and managerial procedures. Where production processes that do not use resources efficiently generate residues and discharge wastes, environmentally sound technologies can be applied to reduce day-to-day operating inefficiencies, emissions of environmental contaminants, worker exposure to hazardous materials and risks of environmental
disasters.

Why should companies care?

The key benefits of environmentally friendly technologies include:

  • Implementing environmentally friendly technologies helps a company reduce the use of raw materials leading to increased efficiency;
  • Technology innovation creates new business opportunities and helps increase the overall competitiveness of the company; and
  • Technologies that use materials more efficiently and cleanly can be applied to most companies with long-term economic and environmental benefits.

What can companies do?

At the basic factory site or unit level, improving technology may be achieved by:

  • changing the process or manufacturing technique;
  • changing input materials;·
  • making changes to the product design or components; and
  • reusing materials on site.

Strategic level approaches to improving technology include:

  • Establishing a corporate or individual company policy on the use of environmentally sound technologies
  • Making information available to stakeholders that illustrates the environmental performance and benefits of using such technologies
  • Refocusing research and development towards ‘design for sustainability’
  • Use of life cycle assessment (LCA) in the development of new technologies and products
  • Employing Environmental Technology Assessments (EnTA)
  • Examining investment criteria and the sourcing policy for suppliers and contractors to ensure that tenders stipulate minimum environmental criteria
  • Co-operating with industry partners to ensure that ‘best available technology’ is available to other organizations

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