Environmental Context

Technological Choice

Technology & Environment
Appropriate Technology
Clean, Green Technology

Social Shaping of Technology

Case Study: Clean Production
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Technological Choice

Technology and the Environment

What has been achieved?


Economic Instruments

incremental change
end of pipe solutions
technical fixes
cleanup technologies


  • lack of will
  • economic priorities
  • lack of power
  • lack of knowledge


  • cheaper
  • easier
  • minimal change
  • less risky
  • fits existing infrastructure
  • fits skills base


  • paradigms
  • education
  • training
  • experience


The ESD working group on manufacturing says of clean technologies:

"The rate of uptake of new cleaner technologies by industry will depend on each firm's assessment of a complex array of long and short-term costs and benefits from this action. The age and residual life of current plant and equipment, and the investment climate, will be critical to new capital expenditure decisions. The prospect of gaining consumer goodwill and a competitive edge from cleaner production, or the prospect of increased costs for pollution and waste disposal, would also be expected to be important determinants … Adverse publicity or its likelihood may act as a powerful incentive to lagging firms to clean up their act." (pp. 62&endash;3)

The OECD found that, in 1987, most investment in pollution control was being used for end-of-pipe technologies, with only 20 per cent being used for cleaner production. Cleaner technologies are not always available and, even when they are, companies tend not to replace their old technologies until they have run their useful life. Also, companies prefer to keep to a minimum the organisational changes that need to be made; they like to play it safe when it comes to investment in pollution management. The ESD Working Group commented that, 'it is apparent that in many cases end-of-pipe technologies are readily available, easier to adopt and more evident as anti-pollution measures than clean production processes'.

It is not necessarily the case that production changes will be an additional cost to firms in the long term. But it is true that their outcome is less predictable than end-of-pipe solutions. Governments tend to encourage such solutions by not requiring companies to do more than this. The benefits and impediments to cleaner technologies identified by the OECD are shown in the table.

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