Technological Choice


DividerSocial Shaping of Technology

Examples of cleaner technologies and impediments to their adoption in OECD countries

Traditional technology
New technology
Benefits of new technology
Impediments to wider world adoption
Chlor-alkali (chemical)
Mercury and diaphragm cell process
Membrane cell process
Much more energy efficient and nouse of mercury
Membrane cell standard in new plants. Reluctance to install in existing plants due to investment cost and poor health of chlorine industry
Iron and steel
Coke ovens and blast furnaces
Direct reduction
Lower cost, more flexible, fewer byproducts
Growth in new steel mills mainly in developing countries. Most environmental technologies in the OECD countries are of the add-on variety
CFC use in the electronics industry
Use of CFC 13 as a solvent for cleaning purposes
Semi-aqueous cleaning
Avoid use of CFCs system
No incentive to switch technologies unless required to do so by government regulation
White pigment (chemical)
Lead-based and zinc-based pigments
White titanium dioxide pigment
Non-toxic and production is cleaner
Shortage of technical staff and tariff barriers
Leather tanning
Chromium technology
Low- or no-chromium technologies
Avoid toxic chromium waste disposal
Conservatism of tanners (cost of two processes approximately the same)
Metal finishing
Convert liquid waste including heavy metals to sludge and dump in landfill
Ion exchange
Heavy metals are extracted for reuse and recycling
Insufficient incentive unless required by government regulation
Pulp and paper
Use of chlorine in pulp bleaching
Oxygen delignification
Reduce use of chlorine by half
Standard in new plants.Significant cost to install in existing plants.

Source: ESD Working Groups 1991, p. 97.