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Journal of Cleaner Production 15 (2007) 914e919

www.elsevier.com/locate/jclepro

An environmental assessment method for cleaner production


technologies
Tadeusz Fija1
Department of Technology and Ecology of Products, Cracow University of Economics, Rakowicka 27, 31-510 Krakow, Poland
Received 4 February 2004; accepted 11 November 2005
Available online 4 January 2006

Abstract
An environmental assessment method for cleaner production technologies enabling quantitative analysis of environmental impact is presented.
The proposed method is based on material and energy flows and uses a set of profile indices, including raw material, energy, waste, product
and packaging profiles that describe all material and energy flows related to the technology under investigation. The indices are used as a basis
for determining an integrated index for overall environmental assessment of cleaner production technologies.
The presented method can be employed to evaluate environmental nuisance of implemented, modernised and modified technological processes and products as well to perform comparative analyses of alternative technologies.
2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Cleaner production; Technology environmental assessment; Profile unit indices; Integrated index for environmental assessment of cleaner production
technologies

1. Introduction
An environmental assessment, in particular a valuation of
environmental impact of technical facilities, is a relatively
new research subject. Previously, the related research studies
on pollutant emission levels, volume of generated wastes or
discharged effluents, documented relationships between the
manufacturing activity and deterioration of environmental
quality. As a result, increasingly pressures are being brought
on companies and industrial regions to make dramatic improvements in their environmental and economic performance,
at the same time.
Currently, there is an increasing awareness and acceptance
of environmental problems caused by human activities and
therefore, the urgent need to reduce the adverse environmental
impacts of manufacturing processes and products. In order to
assist corporate and regional leaders to make further progress
with implementing preventative approaches such as the

E-mail address: fijalt@ae.krakow.pl


0959-6526/$ - see front matter 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2005.11.019

cleaner production strategy, to reduce such negative impacts,


the author believes that an overall assessment of technological
processes for their harmfulness to the environment to find
relationships between indices describing environmental nuisance of industrial activities and the manufacturing processes
is of great importance.
Therefore, to improve implementation of the concepts and
approaches of Cleaner Production, i.e. application of the overall preventive environmental management strategy for processes and products, it is necessary to develop tools that
enable one to quantitatively analyse relative environmental
impacts for proecological measures to be taken to replace current practices.
Several methods [1e13] are employed to perform such assessments, mainly those using the following procedures:
e Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to evaluate
planned projects (including technological process);
e Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), i.e. environmental impact
assessment related to the whole life cycle of product (facility), including all life cycle steps.

T. Fija1 / Journal of Cleaner Production 15 (2007) 914e919

Both methods are based on assessment of predicted environmental impacts related to the evaluated product (facility).
Regardless of facility to be assessed, both methods use the
same or similar tools, including, for example, checklists, matrix methods, networks, histograms or multi-criteria decisionmaking models [12,14].
In both methods an assessment includes important components such as:
e environmental characteristics of the technology, and
e environmental characteristics of the product.
These procedures are most often used separately and consist of individual assessments of hazards of the analysed technological process or manufactured product.
The concept of the new method for environmental assessment of cleaner production technologies enabling overall evaluation of environmental hazards related to implementation of
technological processes and impact of manufactured product is
presented in this paper.
2. Assumption of the method for environmental
assessment of cleaner production technologies
The proposed method for environmental assessment of
cleaner production technologies consists of evaluations of environmental hazards while enabling quantitative analysis of
environmental loading expressed by material and energy flows
exchanged between the technological processes under investigation (including manufactured product) and the environment.
The technological process is considered as a sequence of unit
processes and operations required to manufacture the product
under consideration.
The method is based on analysis of materials and energy
flows and uses a set of profile indices describing quantitatively,
all materials and energy flows related to the analysed technology. A flow chart of such technological process including profiles of analysed material and energy flows is presented in
Fig. 1.
To avoid any incorrect results of assessment, when preparing the materials and energy characteristics (input and
output balance), the materials and energy flows should

915

not be expressed in absolute quantities and must be referred


to the production volume in the analysed period. This
prevents false conclusions to be drawn related, for instance,
to considerable improvement in the environment, while decreasing the production volume and reducing the pollution
level.
When preparing the environmental characteristics for the
technology under investigation the following items were
taken into account (according to the flow chart presented in
Fig. 1):
e
e
e
e
e

raw material profile;


energy profile;
waste profile;
product profile;
packaging profile.

The raw material profile comprises raw material characteristics, including quantitative data related to all raw material
flows (primary raw materials, auxiliary raw materials, materials) assigned to the technology under consideration.
The energy profile contains an energy assessment, including quantitative data related to consumption of all power
raw material flows (solid, liquid and gaseous fuels) and any
kind of energy (heat, electricity) used in the process.
The waste profile consists of the characteristics of waste
generation by the technology, including quantitative data related to all waste flows (solid, liquid and gaseous wastes) generated in the process.
The product profile contains an environmental assessment
of products, including quantitative data related to product
flows of adverse environmental impacts resulting from the
technological process.
The packaging profile comprises environmental characteristics of packaging materials used in the technological process,
including quantitative data related to any kind of packaging,
while considering its negative environmental impact.
In each profile the analysed technology is described with
profile unit indices that determine the quantity of individual
mass and energy flows per unit mass of manufactured products.
3. Profile unit indices
3.1. Raw material unit index

Raw Material
Flows

(raw material profile)

Energy Flows
(energy profile)

TECHNOLOGICAL
PROCESS

Product Flows
(product profile)

Waste Flows
(waste profile)

Packaging Used
(packaging profile)

Fig. 1. Material and energy flows included into analysis of technological


processes.

In raw material profile the raw material unit index (Ws), defined in Table 1, is used.
Index Ws includes all raw materials involved in the technological process (except for energy raw materials and raw materials recovered by recycling), including primary raw
materials, auxiliary materials and water used for technological
or cooling purposes.
3.2. Energy unit index
In energy profile the energy unit index (We), defined in
Table 2, is used. Index We includes total consumption of direct

T. Fija1 / Journal of Cleaner Production 15 (2007) 914e919

916

Table 1
Set of formulas and factors taken into account when computing the raw material unit index

Table 3
Set of formulas and factors taken into account when computing the waste generation unit index

Raw material unit index (Ws)

Waste generation unit index (Wo)

Ws
wsi

n
P

wsi ;

i1
msi

Wo

i1

mcp
where:
wsi e partial raw material unit index for i-th primary raw material,
msi e weight of i-th primary raw material used in the technological process,
mcp e total weight of all products manufactured in the technological process.

energy (directly used in the technological process), being the


sum of primary energy (fuel energy) and derivative energy
(processed) e electricity and heat. The consumption of all energy raw materials (solid, liquid and gaseous fuels) related to
the technological process as well as electric power and heat
energy used in the process is expressed in weight of standard
fuel from the following formula:
1 t:p:u: 1 Mt hard coalQw 29; 3076 MJ=kg;

where:
t.p.u. e ton of standard fuel,
Mt e metric ton 1000 kg,
Qw e calorific value of hard coal (standard fuel).
The total consumption of energy (heat, electricity) used in
the technological process to manufacture product flows e expressed in weight of standard fuel e is reduced by amount of
secondary energy (wew), recovered and used in the process.
3.3. Waste generation unit index
In waste profile the waste generation unit index (Wo), including all types of wastes generated in the technological process, is defined in Table 3.
Gaseous wastes include all dust and gas pollutants emitted
into the atmosphere containing dusts and gases such as: SO2,
Table 2
Set of formulas and factors taken into account when computing the energy unit
index
Energy unit index (We)
We
wei

n
P
i1
zei

n
P

wei  wew ;

;
mcp
zew
;
wew
mcp
where:
wei e partial energy unit index for i-th power raw material,
wew e secondary energy unit index for energy recovered in the process,
zei e consumption of i-th power raw material expressed in weight of standard
fuel,
zew e amount of secondary energy expressed in weight of standard fuel,
mcp e total weight of all products manufactured in the technological process.

wosi  kosi

m 
l 

 P

P
wocj  kocj
wogk  kogk kosi ; kocj ; kogk  1 ;
j1

k1

mosi
;
mcp
mocj
wocj
;
mcp
mogk
wogk
;
mcp
where:
wosi e partial waste generation unit index for i-th solid waste,
wocj e partial waste generation unit index for j-th liquid waste,
wogk e partial waste generation unit index for k-th gaseous waste,
kosi e relative toxicity index for i-th solid waste,
kocj e relative toxicity index for j-th liquid waste,
kogk e relative toxicity index for k-th gaseous waste,
mosi e weight of i-th solid waste generated in the technological process,
mocj e weight of j-th liquid waste generated in the technological process,
mogk e weight of k-th gaseous waste generated in the technological process,
mcp e total weight of all products manufactured in the technological process.

wosi

NOx, CO, CO2, hydrocarbons and other hazardous gaseous


substances.
The partial indices wosi, wocj and wogk are computed for
weight of wastes discharged directly into the environment, after considering waste neutralisation methods employed in the
analysed technological process.
When computing Wo all types of wastes are taken into account, including:
e wastes generated in the technological process to manufacture product flows;
e unprocessed raw materials and unused products;
e auxiliary materials used, not designed for recycling;
e energy wastes;
e sewages.
The relative toxicity indices for solid (kosi), liquid (kocj) and
gaseous wastes (kogk), are derived from toxicity indices (k)
based on charges for storage, discharge or emission of 1 Mt
of pollutant (waste), defined and computed (for all groups,
subgroups and kinds of pollutants listed in the catalogue of
wastes), presented as Appendices in Ref. [6].
The relative toxicity indices for wastes are defined as the
ratio of toxicity index (k) for the given substance discharged
into the environment to the maximum value of this index
(kmax) obtained for three waste groups (air pollutants, water
pollutants and deposited solid wastes).
3.4. Product unit index
In product profile the product unit index (Wp), including
flows of manufactured products of adverse environmental impact (environmental unfriendly), is defined in Table 4.
Index kpi used in formula defining the product unit index
expresses an estimated hazard load related to the manufactured product and its environmental impact. It can determine

T. Fija1 / Journal of Cleaner Production 15 (2007) 914e919


Table 4
Set of formulas and factors taken into account when computing the product
unit index
Product unit index (Wp)
Wp
wpi

n 
P

wpi  kpi




kpi 0; .; 1 ;

i1
mpi

;
mcp
msui
kpi
;
mpji
where:
wpi e partial product unit index for i-th product,
kpi e environmental nuisance index for i-th product,
mpi e weight of i-th kind of products manufactured in the technological
process,
mcp e total weight of all products manufactured in the technological process,
msui e weight of environmentally noxious (hazardous) components in i-th unit
product,
mpji e weight of i-th unit product manufactured in the technological process.

percentage by weight for hazardous substances contained in


the manufactured product or percentage of weight for noxious,
environmental unfriendly components (details) included into
the product.
When computing index Wp all primary products and byproducts manufactured in the technological process are taken
into account (except for by-products used in regeneration of
auxiliary raw materials or recycling) of adverse environmental
impact (for safe, environmental friendly products kpi 0).
The products of particular hazard to the environment and human health contain a hazardous substance that, according to the
act on chemical substances and preparations [15], includes
explosives, oxidants, highly flammable, toxicants, noxious substances, caustics, irritants, allergens, carcinogens, mutagens,
harmful to reproductive system and ecotoxic substances.
In addition, there are following environmental unfriendly
products:
e products that during its life cycle (use) turn into environmentally noxious wastes, and
e products containing implemented technical solutions that
hinder repairs and disassembling for extracting worn parts
or recovery of worn parts and reuse for other uses after the
product lost its useful properties.

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3.5. Packaging unit index


In packaging profile the packaging unit index (Wv), including adverse environmental impact of packaging materials used
in the technological process, is defined in Table 5.
The index kvi used in formula defining the packaging unit
index indicates an estimated relative environmental loading related to packaging materials used in the technological process.
The value of relative environmental loading index (kvi) for
common packaging materials is based on the results of environmental assessment of packaging materials presented in
Refs. [16e19].
The determination of relative environmental loading index
(kvi) is based on a scale presented in Ref. [17] obtained by using the environmental assessment method for packaging materials based on subjective experts evaluations and enabling the
general environmental impact of packaging materials to be defined while using basic criteria of environmental assessment
and a scale proposed by the Friends of the Earth Netherlands.
Based on the results presented in Refs. [16e19], a new
classification scheme was developed for packaging material
assessment allowing relative environmental loading (kvi) to
be determined for packaging materials being commonly used.
By using the basic criteria for environmental assessment,
including environmental degradation, consumption of natural
resources and energy, emissions, production of solid wastes
and effects on human health, the following scale of 0e3 was
adopted for 9 most frequently used packaging materials under
consideration:
e
e
e
e

insignificant environmental impact: 0,


low environmental impact: 1,
harmful environmental impact: 2,
highly harmful environmental impact: 3.

The total score for given packaging material derived from


individual criteria of environmental assessment was considered as the total environmental loading index (kvs).

Table 5
Set of formulas and factors taken into account when computing the packaging
unit index
Packaging unit index (Wv)

The list of environmental friendly products that should not


be taken into account when determining Wp includes among
other things:
e products free of hazardous substances and reusable by recycling or regeneration after being completely useless;
e products generating no secondary wastes;
e products of extended service life, designed for long-term
use due to enhanced durability or renewal;
e reusable products (multiple use);
e refillable products (multiple fill);
e compostable products; and
e degradable products.

Wv
wvi

n
P
wvi  kvi kvi  1;
i1
mvi

;
mcp
kvs
;
kvi
kvs max
where:
wvi e partial packaging unit index for i-th packaging material,
kvi e relative environmental loading index for i-th packaging material,
mvi e weight of i-th kind of packaging material used in the technological
process,
mcp e total weight of all products manufactured in the technological process,
kvs e total environmental loading index for given packaging material,
kvs max e maximum value of total environmental loading index for packaging
materials under consideration.

T. Fija1 / Journal of Cleaner Production 15 (2007) 914e919

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When considering the value of this index obtained for packaging materials under investigation and the maximum value

When using partial unit indices defined in equations presented in Tables 1e5, the above formula takes the following form:

v
!2
!2
!2
!2
!2
u n
n
n
m
l
n
n
u X
X
X
X
X
X

 X




t
wocj kocj
wogk kogk
wpi kpi
Wz
wsi
wei wew
wosi kosi

wvi kvi
i1

i1

i1

j1

determined for aluminium packaging (kvs max 13), the relative environmental loading index for i-th packaging material
(kvi) was used.
The results of environmental assessment for principal packaging materials are listed in Table 6.
When determining index Wv all types of packaging materials being used are taken into account (for products manufactured without packaging Wv 0).
4. Integrated environmental assessment index
for cleaner production technologies
The above profile indices Ws, We, Wo, Wp and Wv based on
analysis of material and energy flows are used for determining
the integrated environmental assessment index for cleaner
production technologies, as proposed by the author. The integrated index is a mathematical expression describing the
developed model for overall environmental assessment of
the technological process, while considering environmental
quality of the manufactured products.
The proposed integrated environmental assessment index
for cleaner production technologies (Wz) is equal to the square
root of the sum of squares of profile indices (Ws, We, Wo, Wp
and Wv) and can be written as follows:

Wz

q
 2
Ws 2 We 2 Wo 2 Wp Wv 2

i1

k1

i1

The integrated environmental assessment index (Wz) for


cleaner production technologies is a direct measure of environmental quality of the technological process, thus enabling the
intensity of environmental impact to be estimated quantitatively for the analysed technology, while considering consumption
of raw materials and energy carriers, flows of manufactured
products and generated wastes and the use of specified packaging types.
The value of integrated environmental assessment index
(Wz) for cleaner production technologies indicates an overall
hazard created by the technological process under investigation. The smaller the value of this index the lower environmental nuisance of the analysed technology.
For final assessment of the obtained results a five point classification scheme for determining the degree of environmental
nuisance of technological processes under investigation based
on the values of (Wz) is proposed. The environmental nuisance
classification scheme is presented in Table 7.
The proposed model for environmental assessment of
cleaner production technologies has been verified on selected
technological processes and checked for sensitivity and usability limitations in the context of competitive methods used for
environmental assessment of technological processes [20].
The developed model for complex environmental assessment of technological processes, including also environmental
assessment of manufactured products and its packaging is
based on a set of profile unit indices computed by using partial
indices and introduced correction coefficients describing

Table 6
A scale for environmental impact assessment of common packaging materials
Assessment criteria

Packaging material type


Glass

Paper (board)

PE

PP

PS

PET

Steel sheet

Environmental degradation
Consumption of natural
resources
Consumption of energy
Emissions
Solid wastes generated
Effect on human health
Environmental loading
indices
Total environmental loading
index (kvs)
Maximum value kvs (kvs max)
Relative environmental
loading index (kvi)

1
0

1
0

1
1

1
1

1
1

1
1

1
1

1
1

2
2

1
1
1
0

1
1
1
1

1
0
1
1

1
3
3
3

1
1
1
1

1
2
2
1

1
2
1
1

1
2
2
1

3
3
3
0

12

13

e
0.3

e
0.4

e
0.4

e
0.9

e
0.5

e
0.6

e
0.5

e
0.6

13
1.0

Source: Ref. [17].

PVC

Aluminium

T. Fija1 / Journal of Cleaner Production 15 (2007) 914e919


Table 7
Environmental nuisance classification scheme for analysed technological
processes
Degree of environmental
nuisance related to the
technological process

Integrated environmental
assessment index for cleaner
production technologies (Wz)

Very low (insignificant)


Low
Medium
High
Very high

Below 25
25e50
51e100
101e200
Above 200

quantitatively material and energy flows related to the technology under investigation. In addition, the model includes basic
sources of environmental hazards related to the analysed technology. The model can be extended to include additional components (partial indices), depending on specific features of the
technology under consideration and to cover other environmental impacts such as acoustic nuisance, vibrations or electromagnetic fields.

5. Conclusions
The proposed method for environmental assessment of
cleaner production technologies allows:
e overall evaluation of environmental hazards resulting from
the technological process and manufactured products;
e quantitative analysis of environmental loading related
to material and energy flows used in the process as
well to flows of environmental unfriendly products and
wastes;
e recovery of secondary materials from wastes and recycling
to be taken into account;
e consumption of any power raw materials and use of energy
recovered in the process to be considered;
e any flows of industrial wastes (solid, liquid and gaseous) to
be taken into account;
e any flows of manufactured environmentally noxious products to be included;
e environmental loading resulting from packages used in the
process to be included in the environmental assessment.
The proposed method can be employed, for example, to
assess:
e environmental nuisance of implemented technological
processes and manufactured products;
e modernisation or modification of the technological
process;
e to carry out comparative analyses of alternative technologies (or designs) leading to the manufacture of the same
product or of a modified product.

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