3. The Current Status of Concepts Relevant for Cleaner Technology Assessment at European Level
3. The Current Status of Concepts Relevant for Cleaner Technology Assessment at European Level
Concepts and/or methods for assessment of cleaner technology (cleaner production, waste minimisation etc.) are very scarce, so other areas of relevance have been studied as well.
Two areas in particular are mentioned here;
1. Environmental Performance Indicators at corporate, national and international/EU levels and
2. LCA developed as an internationally accepted methodology.
Cleaner technology initiatives are mentioned and available data on evaluation are described.
Environmental Performance Indicators
'Green accounting' and development of Environmental Performance Indicators is being widely accepted as a means of keeping account of the development towards a more sustainable society. Integration of environmental issues into the accounts of companies or states has been debated and different models have appeared at national and corporate level.
The following initiatives have been identified:
OECD has developed a 'Pressure-State-Response' system, which is gradually being accepted also by the EU7. In this concept 'pressures' are pressures on the environment from human activities, e.g. emissions of VOC, CO2 etc., 'state' refers to the state of the environment, i.e. the resulting quality of the environment and 'response' are the answers from society to solve the problems (e.g. energy-saving measures, development of pollution prevention concepts and options, cleaner technologies, etc.).
The Dobrís Assessment7 published by the EEA mentions that the Commission is taking initiatives to focus on chemicals and their fate and toxicity in the environment. In the assessment (Chapt.17) it is noted that: The general lack of toxicological information should be seen against the fact that almost 80 per cent of hazardous waste comes from the chemical industries. A number of chemical substances have attracted a great deal of attention over the past few decades and monitoring programmes are being carried out. The properties which are of concern are low degradability (persistence), carcinogenicity, possible infertility effects, neurotoxic effects, respiratory allergens and eutrophication effects (from nutrients). Recently the occurrence of pesticides and their residues in the groundwater has caused great concern (in Denmark and other countries).
The European Community sees chemicals as one of the prominent environmental problems. Council Regulation 93/793/EEC set up a long-term strategy to identify and control risks from some existing chemicals. This is to be reached through a three-step approach (Dobris Assessment7, Chapt. 38):
As part of the chemical risk control strategy the aim is to strengthen environmental research with the aim of improving, among other things: the understanding of processes whereby chemicals are distributed between the various compartments, their fate once there, how they affect the structure and functioning of ecosystems, the search for ways to prevent pollution effects and to restore damaged ecosystems, etc.
EU has in the Fifth Environmental Action Programme taken several initiatives as regards environmental indicators. Some of those are in preparation but they are described because they are relevant in this context:
At this stage Eurostat operates with directly expressed indicators within the following ten policy areas:
Water pollution is placed in a specific group and care should be taken to avoid calculation of the same effects here and as regards the marine environment, acidification and dispersion of toxins. Distribution of the effects between the themes air pollution and dispersion of toxins should also be considered carefully. How intra-theme weighting is taken care of is not yet published.
The ISO/CD 14031 draft standard on Environmental Performance Evaluation includes suggestions for Environmental Performance Indicators. The standards include suggestions for deciding when it will be appropriate to select indicators that are: absolute, relative, normalised/indexed, qualitative, aggregated or weighted. It is recommended to use care when aggregating and weighting data to ensure verifiability, consistency, comparability and understanding.
Examples of different types of indicators are shown, corresponding to identified significant environmental aspects of a particular industry.
Environmental Policy Performance Indicators
The Netherlands has a system of Environmental Policy Performance Indicators within 7 themes and goals set for each of these. The themes are:
From these themes, seven target groups are singled out and within each target group the main polluting agents responsible for environmental damage are identified. The target groups are: agriculture, traffic and transport, industry, the energy sector, refineries, building and construction, and consumers. Several agents belong to more than one theme, so intra-theme weighting factors are set. The EPI is then expressed as closeness to goal, i.e. theme equivalent/goal for theme equivalent.
A relatively new system in the Netherlands is NAMEA, which aims at integrating indicators into the National Accounting Matrix including Environmental Accounts.
This system does only to a limited degree take the state of the environment into account.
France has a system of National Patrimony Accounts which includes economic, ecological and social environments in a multi-level data system. In this system raw statistics and data summaries are used on lower levels and aggregated indices of welfare are used on the highest level.
Germany has started a system of Environmental-Economic Accounting, for which the German Statistical Office in Wiesbaden is responsible. In this system the environmental themes included are:
The German system includes provision for the UN system SEEA.
In Denmark the Ministry of the Environment and Energy each year since 1994 has published a booklet on environmental indicators for the country (in Danish).The booklet covers the following areas (1995)10:
The policy areas used correspond with the ones chosen by Eurostat, but a slightly different angle is chosen since the aim is to protect the state of the environment. The following indicators are used:
Environmental Performance Indicators
Environmental Performance Indicators (EPIs) are used for environmental reporting and several examples can be seen from the large industries' environmental reports11. Up till now the environmental reports seen have been mainly from large international groups and from industries, with a verified environmental management system, mainly the Environmental Management and Auditing Scheme, which requires published environmental reports.
In Denmark the law on 'green accounting' requires a number of listed industries to produce an environmental report each year. When presenting the environmental pressures from the industry it is allowed to use EPIs instead of actual physical emissions. No specific method of presentation is required but the major amounts of pollutants must be stated as far as they are a part of production processes, are emitted to air, water and soil, are part of the products or part of the waste. Information on chemicals/pollutants can be collected into groups determined e.g. by risk - this could be done according to classification for labelling.
Environmental Indicators for consumption of raw materials
The EU project 'Environmental Indicators for the Sustainable Utilisation of Raw Materials'12 includes a discussion of development of indicators at company level. The background is that materials are becoming more scarce. The project attempts to define what is 'sustainable use of materials'. It evaluates which indicators could be useful to describe interactions between the company, the economy and the environment. It attempts to make the most of data companies already have (or can easily collect) and to ensure consistency between internal and external reporting.
Three elements of sustainability in the use of materials are identified:
Indicators are suggested for each of these elements, but the indicators suggested are not grouped according to any overall idea of areas important to ensure a sustainable development (except the elements mentioned above), which are relevant for sustainable production.
The Danish EDIP method used in the present project is supported by the Danish EPA, the Ministry of Energy and Environment and the Association of Danish Industries. EDIP is an acronym for Environmental Design of Industrial Products5. The EDIP method is a handbook and a computer programme/package aimed at product development with the use of LCA. One of the possible applications of EDIP is environmental evaluation of product and production concepts and one of these could be cleaner technology evaluation. The method is not explicit in explaining how this can be done and the concept developed in the CEIDOCT project is an illustration of this application as well as a further development of the method.
The EDIP method is in agreement with the guidelines outlined by SETAC13. The method is made operational with the aim of having professionals making conscious choices along the way and leaving any weighting to the last step in order to keep results as transparent as possible.
Priority areas in the EDIP method are divided into groups of environmental effects and resources consumption:
or specific purposes in EDIP the indicators above are divided into four groups as shown in the Figure 3.1:
The Dutch Eco-design manual uses the concept of a MET Matrix as a way of structuring the environmental analysis of a product. The letters MET stand for Material cycle, Energy use and Toxic emissions. The power of the matrix is that it can be used as an aid to a project team to focus on all stages of the project lifecycle and on the simplified environmental aspects linked to the lifecycle stages for the particular product. This is also referred to in the PROMISE manual.
In the Dutch application the materials are input and output of materials that are exhaustible or create a lot of emission during production (examples are copper, lead and zinc), incompatible materials and inefficient use or non-reuse of material in all stages of the product lifecycle.
Input and output of energy not only include energy from production itself, but also from transport, operation and maintenance as well. No division is made between the energy sources used.
Toxic emissions cover identified toxic emissions in all stages of the lifecycle, emitted to land, water and air. Identification of toxics is done for chemicals used at all stages of the lifecycle.
Another guideline is the Nordic Guidelines on Life-Cycle Assessment14 which also is in accordance with the SETAC principles. This guideline aims to develop a Code of Practice for LCA built on Nordic Consensus and to provide industry and other practitioners with a set of guidelines for LCA, mainly 'key issue identification' LCAs, which might be used when results are to be communicated to authorities. The conclusions of technical reports in general are that shortcuts are rarely possible without a change in results. This means that one should be careful if simplifying data in an LCA (use of average data, leaving out data etc.), but it is allowed, provided the data are transparent and the consequence of shortcuts are analysed.
Cleaner Technology in the Member States
Cleaner Technology Strategies in EU Member States have been described in a report to the Commission DG XI15. Cleaner Technology principles are included in command and control legislative measures still in only a few countries. The cleaner technology concept is included in several policy documents in the EU Member States, but actual enforcement is very weak.
The promotion of the cleaner technology concept in general seemed to be executed by voluntary incentives, like grant schemes, subsidies and information activities rather than compulsory incentives like approval schemes and financial instruments, e.g. taxes.
Education, training programmes and information on the topic is widespread. In countries like Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Belgium demonstration projects have been carried out, with possibilities to get consultancy assistance. More countries are starting up demonstration programmes, e.g. the Irish EPA is launching a programme for 1997-1998. Of the above mentioned, Denmark was the first to actually carry out an evaluation of the cleaner technology programme16.
Evaluation of the Danish programme
The evaluation of the Danish programme included conclusions, which to some degree resulted in the present project. Some of the conclusions of interest for this project were that the environmental effects of cleaner technologies have been estimated relatively as well as absolutely. It was found that pollution reductions per unit produced were substantial, while the absolute outcome varied from sector to sector. One result was that the effects obtained in certain sectors with the introduction of cleaner technologies were of a size to ensure quick compliance with the voluntary agreements on VOCs.
It was found necessary, in order to better verify the effects of cleaner technologies, to get better and more systematic environmental data. The documentation of achieved environmental results need improvement. It was concluded: 'that the increased interest for environmental performance reviews underline the necessity to develop key environmental parameters, which can be used also in a broader context.'
In the report on Cleaner Technology Strategies15 a definition of cleaner technology has been suggested to the Commission:
'Cleaner technology is the conceptual and procedural approach to the development, purchase and use of processes and products preventing and reducing internal and external environmental problems throughout the product life cycle by integrating options to:
This definition conforms with the ideas behind the CEIDOCT project and largely with the definition by the Danish EPA16.
Conclusions of relevance for the CEIDOCT concept
It can be concluded that cleaner technology assessment tools have not yet been developed. It would in particular be of interest to have tools which could also be used in a broader context. Attempts have been made at EU level to define cleaner technology in a lifecycle perspective, and to define sustainable use of materials in a way which involves the use of cleaner technologies.
Assessment tools and indicators have been developed within areas in close connection with the concept of cleaner technologies, e.g. LCAs and EIAs. Indicators are being developed at national and international level for control and presentation of the pressures on and the state of the environment.
From the indicators listed in this Chapter it can be seen that there is considerable international consensus on the indicators used as regards global and regional problems. More discrepancy is seen with indicators for local effects.
The international priority areas, the growing tendency to look at cleaner technologies in a lifecycle perspective and the recognised need 'to do more with less' using materials in a sustainable way are used as basis for the development of the CEIDOCT indicators suggested in this project.
7: Stanners, D. and Bourdeau, P. (ed.): 'Europes Environment', The Dobrís Assessment, European Environmental Agency, 1995
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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