Cleaner Production 1 by qxQF2o4


									    Cleaner Production 1
              Module 2
CP in a broader environmental context

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‘CP’ focuses on the production process, and continuously seeks opportunities for improving
the process, particularly with the view to reducing costs. Yet the CP process itself has to take
place in and should take cognisance of the legal, social and environmental context of the
production process. This module will discuss of some the main issues involved in this
broader context, including the Health and Safety (of workers and of surrounding
communities), the immediate and possible cumulative environmental impacts of the
manufacturing process, and product safety.

Health and Safety in the workplace
Health Safety in the workplace involves the control of risks factors such as moving
machinery, excessive heat, exposure to dust and chemicals injurious to health, and
controlling the risks of fires and explosions. Worker’s exposure to certain chemicals such as
lead fumes or asbestos fibres, and certain volatile organic compounds, may cause cancer
several years after the occurrence of the exposure. Prolonged exposure to certain chemicals
or substances may cause chronic conditions such as asthma (for example in woodworking or
bakeries) or dermatitis (for example hairdressing). Bad design of the work process may lead
to chronic back pain or repetitive strain injury. Because many occupational health and safety
issues are specific to particular industries, a number of Health and Safety Guidelines for
specific industries are available. (See reference list.)

The Namibian Ministry of Labour website ( ) provides a useful definition of
the scope of occupational health and safety:

       Occupational Health

       Occupational Health is aimed at the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical,
       mental and social well being of workers in all occupations. This is done by ensuring that all work-
       related hazards are prevented and where they occur, managed. Such hazards can be classified in three
       groups, namely

               Physical hazards                                            Extremes of temperature

               Extremes of pressure                                        Poor lighting

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               Electricity hazards                                           Liquids, Gases and Vapours

               Noise and vibrations                                          Biological hazards

               Chemical hazards                                              Bacterial, Viral and fungal.

               Dust, fumes, smoke

       In order to maintain good and healthy standards, at the work place, cleanliness, adequate sanitary
       facilities, protection against dangerous substances as well as education and training of both workers
       and management is necessary.

       Occupational Safety

       A safety risk is a statistical concept representing the potential of an accident occurring, owing to unsafe
       operation and/or environment. In the working context “SAFETY” is regarded as “free from danger” to
       the health injury and to properties.

In South Africa, health and safety at the workplace is regulated under the Occupation Health
and Safety Act (Act No. 85 of 1993) and associated regulations that fall under this act; in
Namibia, occupational health and safety is administered under the Ministry of Labour and
Social Welfare. Where local regulations do not cover specific situations, the regulations and
agencies in other countries, for example the Health and Safety Executive of the United
Kingdom (HSE, ) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and
Health of the USA ( ) of provide valuable guidelines and information.

The creation of a safe working environment requires the management and control of the
hazards associated with a particular process. While the CP approach focuses on
identification and implementation of opportunities for the reduction of production costs
through a reduction on materials used, water and power consumption and waste
generation, the process and operational changes identified should be evaluated against
health and safety considerations as well. For example, in the Dye House process of Module
4, the CP procedure may identify a cheaper dye as a means of reducing costs, but the
cheaper dye may be more hazardous to workers, a factor that should lead to a reassessment
of the use of the cheaper dye.

Impacts of accidents beyond the workplace

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Accidents at large industrial facilities or at facilities containing large amounts of hazardous
substances may result in exposure of surrounding communities to several different impacts.
Large fires or explosions may have a direct impact on communities, and the release of toxic
smoke and gases into the environment exposes residents. There are numerous examples of
major accidents at industrial facilities, the worst of which was the infamous Bhopal accident
(1986) which resulted in the release of a toxic gas that resulted in the death of more than
10 000 and serious injury to more than 200 000 people living in the community adjacent to
the plant. (See reference list for records and accounts of more recent large scale industrial

Even small facilities using toxic gases such as ammonia or chlorine under pressure could be
the site of accidental releases with a radius of impact of several kilometres. The accidental
rupture of a 1 tonne chlorine container, typically used for disinfecting public swimming
pools, could result in the release of a toxic cloud extending several kilometres from the
source. The spillage of a relatively small quantity of Dye House effluent could result in
significant contamination of surface water.

The South African the Major Hazards Installations Regulations (MHIR, amended,
Government Notice No. R. 692 of 30 July 2001) are intended to regulate possible impacts on
the general public. The emphasis is on the assessment of risks, and the management of the
risks. Risk reduction measures could include reducing inventories of hazardous substances,
replacing hazardous chemicals with less hazardous chemicals, using safer process conditions
such as lower pressures or temperatures, and/ or installing additional safety equipment
and/ or taking additional administrative measures such as training.

Immediate Environmental impacts
In general industrial (and many commercial) enterprises have immediate environmental
impacts through pollutant discharges to air and water, and the generation of solid waste.
Although all three pollutant discharges are regulated, regulations tend to be lax or are not
enforced, particularly for smaller plants.

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Pollutant emissions to air are commonly stack emissions from combustion plants – sulphur
dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide - for
raising steam or for process heat. The first four pollutants all have harmful health impacts
such as worsening of cardio-vascular disease and respiratory disease, even at low
concentrations. These air pollutants therefore have a greater or lesser (depending on
ground-level concentrations) adverse impact on surrounding communities. Carbon dioxide
emissions contribute to global warming. The type of fuel used for the combustion plant is
the most important factor in determining the amount and concentration of pollutants
emitted, with gas fired plants having the lowest emissions and coal or wood fired plants the

In addition to stack emissions, activities on a production site may also result in fugitive
emissions of dust (particulate matter) and volatile organic compounds. The latter emissions
occur from spillages and equipment leaks.

Discharge of polluted water to municipal systems or into storm water systems is usually
prohibited or subject to fines that depend on the concentration of the pollutants and the
volume discharged. However lack of or inadequate monitoring, low fines and lack of
enforcement of the regulations mean that there is an insufficient disincentive for polluting

Solid waste when improperly disposed of may result on leaching of toxic substances
(particularly heavy metals) into water courses.

The CP methodology may result in improved energy efficiency, for example, thus reducing
the emissions from energy production. However, improvements in energy efficiency and
hence emission reductions are likely to be marginal. The use of cleaner fuels (such as gas) or
if possible the use of renewable energy will result in a far greater reduction in emissions.
Similarly, CP methodology may reduce liquid effluent but not eliminate it or identify the
need for effluent treatment before discharge into the environment.

Broader environmental impacts

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When each process or enterprise is considered in isolation from others it may conform with
environmental regulations and standards, but there may still be unacceptable
environmental impacts due to the cumulative impacts arising from a number of smaller
enterprises operating in the same area. The cumulative effect of air pollution from a
number of sources in one area may result in unacceptable ambient air pollution levels. The
emission of toxic substances (such as dioxins from incinerators, mercury from coal burning
power plants) that are persistent in the environment (i.e., they do not break down into
harmless by-products or break down very slowly) results bioaccumulation and bio-
concentration of these substances, threatening the health of higher organisms in the food
web. Fish may become inedible due to high levels of mercury or PCBs (polychlorinated
biphenyls, an oil formerly used in electrical transformers). These substances may migrate
thousands of kilometres from the source, resulting in impacts in remote areas. The
livelihoods and health of people living in the Arctic Circle are threatened by these persistent
toxic substances even though they live thousands of kilometres from the sources.

Product safety
Product Safety standards require goods to comply with particular performance, composition,
contents, methods of manufacture or processing, design, construction, finish or packaging rules (e.g.
construction of toys for children under three years) standards. Increasingly the question of the
recyclability of a product is brought into question. For example, cars and computers may be
designed to facilitate the recycling of the materials used in their construction but this is rarely the
case. Dyed clothing may be allergenic due to the due or the manufacturing process. Genetically
modified organisms may be harmful to both consumers and the environment.

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