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Waste Management and Cleaner Production

Waste management and cleaner production
B.Sc (Hons, USJ) (Polymer Science and Technology, Chemistry, Physics)

History of cleaner production

In 1992 Rio Summit highlighted and focused attention on the environment resulting in many conventions and conferences on various environmental issues. These have generated several multilateral environment agreements (MEAs). Those MEAs demand countries to develop some specific implementation mechanisms and fulfill obligations involving reporting, training, public education, and other activities. The concept of cleaner production was developed during the Rio summit. Proactive Approaches since Rio Summit are

  • Waste Minimization
  • Pollution Prevention (P2)
  • Cleaner Production
  • Green Productivity
  • Eco Efficiency

What is cleaner production?

The main objective of cleaner production is Achieving Sustainable Development through Judicious Use of Resources by enterprises through creative and proactive strategies. Cleaner production is an approach to optimize the usage of resources by minimizing waste of resources at the point of generation, converting unavoidable wastes to products with economic value, and innovation and creativity. Cleaner production can be applied for either, processes, products, or services.


  • Conserving Raw Materials and Energy
  • Eliminating toxic materials
  • Reduction of the amount and the toxicity of all emissions and wastes from production


  • Reducing the environmental impact of a product in its entire life cycle from Raw extraction to End-of-Life disposal.
  • Lowers costs and improves environmental performance


  • Turning environmental problems and issues into designing and delivering a service
  • Focus on product use

Cleaner production assessment

Cleaner production assessment is a systematic planned procedure with the objective of identifying ways to eliminate or reduce the generation of waste and emissions. This is a six-step process with 18 tasks.

Start1. Getting started
Analyze2. Analyzing process steps
3. Generating CP opportunities
Improve4. Selecting CP solutions
5. Implementing CP solutions
Integrate6. Sustaining CP
Table 01: Cleaner production assessment steps

Step 1 - Getting started

Step 1 is a process with 4 tasks. Here, we can get an idea about the overall process of the organization and what are the wasteful process steps.

Task 1: Form a Cleaner Production Assessment Team

First, we have to form a cleaner production assessment team. This team should include members representing all sections of the organization. The team should be capable of identifying opportunities, developing and implementing solutions. Size and composition should match the company's organization. Generally, a team with 4 – 12 members is much better.

The selected CP assessment team is informed on establishing the need for CP among team members, the importance of systematic assessment, and the importance of real measurements and production records.  It is necessary to communicate about CP among the company staff to create conditions for smooth data collection, participation in option generation and evaluation, effective implementation of feasible options, and continuation of CP activities.

Task 2: List Process Steps

Cleaner production can be applied either to the whole organization or a particular section of the organization. The major objective of cleaner production is eliminating waste. To identify waste in the process, we have to list down all the process steps in the organization. Here all the processes should be specified including production, material handling, storage, utilities, etc. Then, it should identify what are the inputs and outputs including raw materials, chemicals, energy, water, waste, wastewater, and air emissions.

 Let’s consider a ginger juice manufacturing factory. There can be process steps as follows,

  1. 3.7 tons of raw ginger (per day) are collected from farmers and transport to the factory.
  2. The collected ginger is loaded to a rotating drum to wash off the soil.
  3. Cleaned ginger is sorted manually to remove spoiled ones.
  4. Then the ginger is sent to the skin peeler. Skin is peeled by sprayed water
  5. Peeled ginger is sent to the slicing machine
  6. The sliced ginger is then sent through a crushing machine. The crushed ginger is then sent through a filter press to separate juice from the fiber. Some the crushed slices drop from the machine which is collected as solid wastes.
  7. The ginger juice is stored in a stainless-steel storage tank.
  8. Ginger juice is directly packed in polycarbonate bottles.

Task 3: Select Wasteful Process Steps

After listing down the process step, we can identify what are the steps where waste is generated. So, we get an idea to prioritize the problems and solutions depending on some factors. This depends on Economic considerations on monetary losses with waste streams, Environmental considerations on volume and composition of waste streams, and technical considerations on expected improvement potential

Step 2 - Analyzing process steps

Expected results of analyzing process steps are, process waste quantifying and cost calculation, and exploring waste causes.

Task 4: Prepare Flow Chart

Flow charts are prepared for assessment focus. First, all the unit operations are identified. Then all the unit operations are linked with material & energy flows. Flow charts should be included what are the inputs and outputs.

Ginger juice manufacturing factory production process
Figure 01: Ginger juice manufacturing factory production process
Ginger juice manufacturing factory production process
Figure 02: Ginger juice manufacturing factory production process

Task 5: Make Material and Energy Balance

For every process, there are inputs and outputs. Inputs can be raw materials, water, energy, and auxiliaries. And the outputs can be products, by-products, waste, and emissions. Here, the flow chart is improved by mentioning how many inputs are supplied and how many outputs are obtained. Data for material and energy balances can be collected from on-site measurements, purchase and sales records, and production records. The more expensive or toxic the materials, the more precise the balance should be.

Task 6: Assign Costs to Waste Streams

There are both internal costs and external costs. Costs for waste collection & handling, Operation of treatment facilities, Loss of raw materials & intermediate products are internal costs. Discharge fees Levies, permit costs are external costs. Here both external and internal costs are calculated.

Task 7: Review Processes to Identify Waste Causes

Assess the impact on process waste generation considering.

  1. Equipment operation & maintenance practices
  2. Process efficiency
  3. Equipment design & lay out
  4. Choice of production technology
  5. Choice of quality of input materials
  6. Presence of raw materials and intermediate products in waste streams
  7. Presence of potentially valuable components in waste streams
  8. Product specifications

Step 3 - Generating Cleaner Production opportunities

Expected results are,

  1. Comprehensive set of CP opportunities for each waste/emission cause
  2. Obviously feasible opportunities are being implemented
  3. Workable opportunities pre-selected for feasibility studies

Task 8: Develop Cleaner Production Opportunities

Now, we have identified waste causes and quantified waste costs. From now, cleaner production solutions should be developed to reduce costs. Conducting brainstorming sessions encourage innovative thinking. Not only the project team but also encourage all layers in the enterprise will help to generate new ideas.

Task 9: Select Workable Opportunities

All the generated ideas are not feasible to implement. All the generated options are evaluated to distinguish feasible and non-feasible options. Feasible options are implemented, and non-feasible options are removed. When evaluating the options, it should be considered on expected reduction of waste/emission, economic feasibility, technical feasibility, and ease of implementation.

Step 4 - Selecting Cleaner Production Solutions

Now we have selected all workable opportunities. But all the workable solutions can not be implemented. Because we have technical, financial, and environmental issues.

Task 10: Assess Technical Feasibility

Here the technical feasibility of the selected CP solution is assessed. The technical factors that should be assed are,

  • Availability and reliability of equipment
  • Requirements for utilities, process monitoring and control
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Required technical skills (operators, technicians)

Task 11: Assess Financial Viability

The investment cost and operational costs are calculated. Investments costs are the costs for equipment, construction, training, start-up, etc. Operational costs are costs for maintenance, before and after implementation.

Task 12: Evaluate Environmental Aspects

When implementing new CP solutions, the environmental impact also is considered. Therefore, we have to evaluate environmental improvements such as,

  • Amount of pollutants generated
  • Toxicity of emissions and/or waste
  • Energy consumption
  • Material consumption
  • Water consumption
  • Pollutant load in product

Task 13: Select Solutions for Implementation

After evaluating technical, financial, and environmental feasibility combines all the results. Properly document expected results and benefits for each option to facilitate fundraising and monitoring of implementation results.

Step 5: Implementing Cleaner Production Solutions

All the Cleaner Production solutions that are feasible are implemented. After implementation, results are monitored and evaluated.

Task 14: Prepare for Cleaner Production Implementation

This is a detailed preparation of Cleaner Production implementation.

  • Writing detailed technical equipment specifications
  • Preparation of detailed construction plans
  • Comparative evaluation and selection of equipment from different suppliers
  • Proper planning to reduce installation time

Task 15: Implement Cleaner Production Solutions

When implementing Cleaner Production solutions supervise construction & Installation. Control the progress of work, equipment & installation specifications.

Task 16: Monitor & Evaluate Results

  • Compare measured benefits with expected benefits
  • Identify paths to improve the benefits of the technical installations further more
  • Verify installation and operation according to specifications

Step 6: Sustaining Cleaner Production

Task 17: Sustain Cleaner Production Solutions

This will include

  • Set organizational structure for CP
  • Employee training & incentives
  • Integration of CP in technical development

Task 18: Select Wasteful Process Steps

Apprise all process units regarding:

  • Seriousness of waste/emission generation
  • Internal and external environmental cost
  • Operational and maintenance status
  • Expected improvement potential

Select -next -most promising assessment focus

Tailor planning of assessments to long term innovation and expansion plans

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References and Attributes


The cover image was created using Image by RoadLight from Pixabay

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