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 (LCA) is needed to determine if a particular technology really pollutes less than its alternatives. LCA 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, fluorescent light bulbs 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 P2 performance and LCA, such as toxicity or energy efficiency, is important for evaluation.
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