Environmentally sound technology, clean(er) technology
"Environmentally sound, and clean(er) technology" are relative concepts in time and space. The time dimension relates to the availability of knowledge. For instance, asbestos was implicitly considered environmentally sound until its negative consequences on human health became known.
The space dimension has a societal (economic, political, cultural) connotation. For example, information about the role of CFCs in destroying the stratospheric ozone layer is widely available, but the readiness to take action varies considerably, irrespective of the fact that many countries ratified the Montreal protocol.
This is why, although technology - a form of knowledge - is crucial, it does not constitute a sufficient condition for achieving sustainable development.
"Clean(er) technology" can be understood as equivalent to environmentally sound technology, with special reference to industrial processes in which the management of wastes constitutes a major issue. According to De Larderel (1991), the clean(er) technology concept involves a new global approach to production:
All phases of the life cycle of a product or of a process should be addressed with the objective of prevention or minimization of short and longterm risks to humans and the environment. This includes a "cradle-to-grave" approach, minimizing wastes and emissions into air, water and soil, pollution prevention as well as minimizing energy consumption and the use of raw materials. It means not only developing new technologies but also good operating practices.
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