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Final Report of NATO/SPS Pilot Study on Clean Products and Processes (Phase I and II) (EPA/600/R-09/018) February 2009

Early in 1998 the NATO Committee for Challenges to Modern Society (SPS) (Science for Peace and Security) approved the Pilot Study on Clean Products and Processes for an initial period of five years. The pilot was to provide a forum for member country representatives to discuss the problems and opportunities of cleaner production. The pilot did not sponsor projects nor try to create policies. The main aim was to examine tools, extant and in development stages, for assessing, preventing and reducing pollution.

While western nations have made significant gains in cleaning up the environment through regulations, enforcement, public disclosure requirements, and emerging new technologies, an increased knowledge of health and environmental impacts of pollutants has heightened the need for doing more on cleaner products and processes. Environmental concerns have accompanied the accelerated industrialization occurring throughout the developing world. The proposed objective of the NATO SPS Pilot Study on clean products and processes was to facilitate further gains in pollution prevention, waste minimization, design for the environment, and sustainability. It was anticipated that the free exchange of knowledge, experience, data, and models would foster innovations, collaborations, and technology transfer on improving the environment worldwide.

In the United States, the following government programs have helped to drive cleaner manufacturing:

- Industries of the Future (Department of Energy)
- Green Lights, Project Excel, Green Chemistry Challenge, Common Sense Initiatives (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
- Strategic Environmental Research & Development Program (Department of Defense)
- Advanced Technology Program (U.S. Department of Commerce)

American industry has responded with its own cleaner manufacturing initiatives such as Responsible Care (Chemical Manufacturers Associations), Vision 2020 (the chemical industry), ISO 14000, and Pollution Prevention. The public has also heightened the need for cleaner manufacturing through environmental activism, litigation, protests, and awareness programs. With the more recent focus on sustainable development and sustainability, cleaner production has taken a more holistic approach that considered societal impacts of products and processes in addition to economic and environmental ones.

Citing published sources, air emissions such as nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide, are shown to have decreased significantly since 1970 (accompanying significant environmental regulations) in the U.S. and are expected to continue the downward trend. Similarly, since the advent of the Toxics Release Inventory (where American companies must publicly report annual emissions levels), reported releases have continued to decline. These two broad trends demonstrate the efficacy of a three-pronged approach to ensuring cleaner manufacturing: government regulations, industry cooperation (in response to economic incentives), and public interest. Through this pilot- provided forum for sharing our experiences with tools for cleaner products and processes, it was thought we could educate ourselves with the latest technical knowledge that would benefit each country.

In evaluating the success of the Pilot Study, we used several metrics:

1. Have we succeeded in elevating the knowledge base of the representatives of countries, especially those emerging economies in transition from the former Soviet block of countries?
2. Have we succeeded in focusing on the most important environmental and sustainability issues confronting every country in the world?
3. Have we succeeded in fostering friendly and collaborative relationships among the country delegates?
4. And, have we succeeded in planting the seed for current and future, organic collaborations among nations on substantive projects?

The report will show that we have succeeded immeasurably on all counts, especially when we consider the investment made in the pilot only went to defraying the costs of holding annual meetings. We are thankful to the NATO SPS for approving this pilot study, and to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for providing supplemental funding for each of the eleven annual meetings at eleven different locations.


Subhas Sikdar

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