What technologies should be implemented to stop pollution on Earth?
A pollution prevention technology is one that creates less pollution in its life cycle than the one it replaces. Can be achieved in many ways, from better housekeeping and maintenance to redesign of products and processes. The range of technologies is therefore very broad. It includes relatively cleaner technologies, technologies that help other technologies to be cleaner, and certain mass-market technologies. All of them reduce impacts compared to their alternatives. It is important to understand that technology does not include pollution-control or -treatment technologies that do not make the technology producing the pollution any cleaner itself. They just manage the resulting waste.
Relatively Cleaner Technologies
Technology is always advancing and improving. Many new technologies are naturally more energy efficient and less polluting than the ones they replace. Sometimes, this is because they were designed with environmental improvement in mind. Usually, however, it is simply the result of using newer and better materials and components. Therefore, pollution-preventing technologies can be found in every area of a product's life cycle.
Life cycle analysis is needed to determine if a particular technology really pollutes less than its alternatives. is the examination of the environmental impacts of a product, from its origins as raw material through processing and production to use and final disposal. This can be a complex process. For example, may seem to be less polluting than incandescent light bulbs because they use much less energy. However, they actually use polluting chemicals such as mercury that are not found in incandescent light bulbs. So they use less energy, but more toxic chemicals. The choice of indicators for performance and such as toxicity or energy efficiency, is important for evaluation.
Some technologies are important for helping other technologies reduce pollution. For example, process controls such as meters and sensors can make many production processes more efficient and less polluting by providing improved control, which reduces waste and defects. Centrifuges can reduce the amount of solids in waste waters, thereby reducing water pollution. Catalytic converters on engine exhaust systems can reduce air pollution. There are many such examples of technologies that help other technologies be cleaner. This is important in situations where there is a large investment in an existing technology already installed that cannot be easily or economically replaced with new and cleaner technology.
Technologies Designed to Prevent Pollution
Some technologies are designed specifically for protecting the environment while also improving business performance. For example, recycling technologies can help recover valuable materials from wastes, cutting manufacturing costs, while also preventing pollution. Examples include gene-engineered plants that do not need protection using chemical insecticides and fuel cells for generating electricity. However, it is surprisingly challenging to identify such technologies. Most technologies that stop pollution were usually created to simply reduce costs and save on materials. Technologies designed to prevent pollution usually rely on cost efficiency, rather than pollution prevention, as their main selling point.
One important and fundamental exception is in chemical design. Thousands of chemicals are used in industry, commerce, and daily life. Many of them have environmental impacts, from mild to serious. By developing alternative chemicals with better environmental performance, significant reductions in pollution can be obtained throughout product life cycles. A common application of green chemistry is in the design of environmentally benign solvents. Traditional solvents such as acetone, xylene, and methy lene chloride are being replaced by new chemicals designed specifically to be less hazardous or less polluting.