Clean Production

Clean Production

In the past, concerns over the impact on environment of production translated either into:

  • Diluting or dispersing the pollution, so that its effects are less harmful or apparent; or
  • Controlling the pollution and the wastes (the so-called End-of-Pipe (EoP) or Pollution Control Approach);

Cleaner Production’ is about being proactive. It is the application of a preventive environmental strategy applied to processes, products and services to increase overall efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment (UNEP definition). It involves changing of production patterns so as to prevent pollution and waste at source and reducing raw material and energy use. It reduces the need to install and operate often expensive EoP control facilities.

  • For production processes, Cleaner Production includes conserving raw materials and energy, substituting toxic/hazardous processing materials by more benign ones and reducing the quantity and/or toxicity of all emissions and wastes before they leave a production process.
  • For products, the approach focuses on the reduction of environmental impact during the entire life cycle of a product, from raw material extraction to the ultimate disposal of the product, by appropriate design.
  • For services, Cleaner Production entails incorporating environmental concerns into the design and delivery of services.

Click here for a short presentation on Cleaner Production
Click here for a few examples on what Cleaner Production constitutes


Benefits of Cleaner Production


Reducing Overall Operating Costs

Cleaner Production helps to reduce generation of waste and consumption of raw materials, energy and water. As a consequence, the costs are likely to be reduced, sometimes substantially. Environmental protection is no longer a separate add-on cost. Instead, the overall cost of the primary activity is reduced due to reduced costs of inputs, such as materials and energy, and the costs of waste disposal. Avoidance of waste saves money because it eliminates both the cost of treating and/or disposing of waste and the cost of the raw materials or services that are wasted. Some Cleaner Production projects lead to the recovery of valuable by-products, which can be used or sold, thus increasing the economic benefit of the approach.

Improving the Environmental Situation

Cleaner Production implementation ensures continuous environmental improvement, which is an essential component of sustainable development. One-off environmental improvements or changes are less important than recognizing that in every activity there will always be further potential for improvement of environmental performance.

Gaining Competitive Advantage

Companies gain increasing competitiveness through the use of new and improved technologies. Companies that have good environmental practices and products have a market advantage with the growing number of environmentally conscious purchasers.

Increasing Productivity, Product & Process Improvement

The efficiency and productivity of company operations is improved in a number of ways by using the Cleaner Production approach. Some of these benefits include:

  • More efficient use of human and physical resources
  • Greater certainty in schedules and budgets
  • Improved working conditions
  • Reduced legal liability

Advanced Workplace Quality

Cleaner Production implementation improves the health and safety of employees by reducing pollutants and exposure to toxic materials.

Better Media & Public Profile

The media can play a pivotal role in determining a company’s public image. An adverse media report can instantly damage a reputation built over years. With public interest in environmental issues on the rise, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) gain a high profile by acting as watchdogs and informers against polluters. Cleaner Production, being a positive proactive approach to environmental management, demonstrates environmental responsibility and promotes confidence of NGOs, pressure groups and media in the company.

Better Compliance with Environmental Regulations

Regulatory standards for discharge of waste (liquid, solid or gaseous) are continually becoming stricter. Meeting these standards often requires installation of expensive and complex pollution control systems. Cleaner Production makes the treatment of residual effluents, and thus compliance with discharge standards, easier, simpler and cheaper, thereby reducing the need for more restrictions and prohibitions.


Global Cleaner Production Initiatives


Genesis of NCPC

One of the keys to achieving sustainable development is improving the production processes that waste resources and emit more pollutants than our ecosystem can absorb. It is to promote this change that UNEP established its Cleaner Production Programme in 1989 with the goal of preventing pollution at the source and of managing the raw material (including energy and water) more efficiently. At the time, Cleaner Production was a scarcely known concept advocated by a small group of forward-thinking people from around the world. Only two years later, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, Cleaner Production had already become internationally acclaimed and incorporated into Agenda 21 as a preferred strategy in reconciling the dual needs of environmental protection and economic development. Since then, large companies have integrated the concept of Cleaner Production into good environmental management practices and documented the economic savings and advantages.

However, it soon became obvious these case studies and experiences were not enough to change production practices in developing countries and economies in transition. The challenge is still greater in case of small and medium-sized companies, which perhaps stand to gain the most in adopting effective environmental protection strategies that are also economically attractive. The need to build local expertise and indigenous capacity to demonstrate that Cleaner Production can simultaneously bring economic and environmental benefits was felt more than ever. What was needed was the technical and financial assistance to help companies getting started. This led UNEP and UNIDO, working in a proactive partnership, to establish the “National Cleaner Production Centers (NCPC)” with the hope that this would serve as a model to be replicated by other countries.
NCPCs have proven to be a big success. The keen expressions from countries for establishing their own National Cleaner Production Centers along with requests for help in this process has been increasing. Furthermore, the expectations and needs of the Centers, once established, have also been growing exponentially.

Click here to read about the NCPC programme across the world


Genesis of the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) Initiative

An evaluation of NCPCs across the world, conducted in 2008, underlined the need to further strengthen the support provided through a pragmatic approach in order to upscale the application of resource efficient and cleaner production. In 2009, UNEP and UNIDO launched the new Joint Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) Programme which provides the framework for collaboration with and support to NCPCs/NCPPs.

Click here to read about the RECP initiative


Clean Production Initiatives in India

In India, the National Productivity Council (NPC) – an autonomous institution attached to the Ministry of Industry – acted as the host institution for NCPC India. NCPC in India helped set up four domestically funded regional Centers in Karnataka, Gujarat, Punjab and West Bengal.

The objective of establishing these NCPCs was:

  • To create awareness on cleaner production.
  • To provide cost effective training to industrial personnel on Cleaner Production assessment and implementation.
  • To organize and conduct Cleaner Production Assessment Projects in different clusters.
  • To develop expertise and thus provide consultancy / advisory services on Cleaner Production.
  • To prepare guidelines and manuals preferably in local language on Cleaner Production.
  • To Conduct Cleaner Technology Assessment Projects in Different Industries of Gujarat.
  • To Assist Government in framing the policy for CP/CT promotion.


Gujarat Cleaner Production Center (GCPC)

GCPC was established in August 1998, with the technical support of National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC), New Delhi and United Nations International Development Organization (UNIDO). GCPC is one of the four regional Cleaner Production Centers in India. GCPC is now a registered Society under Society and Trust Act.

GCPCs activities include:

  • Orientation, dissemination and training programs in the area of Cleaner Production
  • Cleaner Production assessment projects
  • Awareness programmes on Energy Efficiency
  • Advising industries in developing Project Design Document (PDD) and getting approval from Designated National Authorities (DNA) for CDM projects

Click here to learn more about GCPC and how they can help MSMEs


Industry-wise Resources for Cleaner Production under Various Initiatives


Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) Initiative

Cleaner Production Assessment Studies: Cleaner Production Assessment is a systematic and planned procedure for identifying, quantifying and finding options to minimise wastes. Implementation of Cleaner Production (CP) options will increase profits and simultaneously reduce the need for end of pipe pollution control.


Cleaner Production International LLC

Cleaner Production International LLC is an US-based company engaged in sustainable business training and consulting services around the world, with specialisation in practical tools for increasing environmental performance, organisation sustainability management, developing countries, and design of government programmes to promote sustainable business.

Click on the below links to access information on resource efficiency and pollution prevention methods, complied by the company.



Department of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance, North Carolina ( )

The website has an online collection of pollution prevention core references includes technical references, fact sheets and case studies on pollution prevention for selected industry sectors. These documents are deemed to be the "best" by the entities that compiled them.

Click here to access the industry-wise Pollution Prevention References

Case studies describe a pollution prevention program, process or procedure that a business, industry or government facility has undertaken which resulted in significant pollution reduction and/or cost savings.

Click here to access the industry-wise Case Studies