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 P2 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 methylene chloride are being replaced by new chemicals designed specifically to be less hazardous or less polluting.
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