Resource Efficient & Cleaner Production

The confluence of global economic and environmental crises in recent years emphasizes the need to decouple resource management and use from industrial production patterns. Building on Cleaner Production projects in the 1990s, UNEP and UNIDO have promoted sustainable industrial production in developing and transition economies through the Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production (RECP) Programme.

What is RECP?

RECP is the continuous application of preventive environmental strategies to processes, products, and services to increase efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment. RECP works specifically to advance:

Given the positive evolution in environmental regulations and norms in recent years by various stakeholders, elements of UNEP’s RECP practices exist in many countries under concepts such as eco-efficiency, waste minimization, pollution prevention, and green productivity. 

RECP strategies increase the productive use of natural resources, minimize generation of waste and emissions, and foster safe and responsible production. RECP provides enterprises with a comprehensive strategy to improve the overall environmental performance and resource utilization efficiency, which leads to economic, reputational, and regulatory benefits. 

RECP Strategies:

  • Support enterprises produce goods and services with minimal environmental and social impacts within existing technological and economic limits;
  • Promote ecologically sustainable growth which supports economic and financial gains;
  • Prevent or reduce waste generation and lower production costs, which translates to lower product pricing and expansion into previously untapped markets; and
  • Promote safer, more responsible work environments by improving worker productivity and safety, resulting in an increased efficiency of the enterprise itself. 

RECP in Action 

RECP has been applied in many countries, sometimes under different - but related - approaches. Promoting RECP as a comprehensive environmental strategy requires:

UNEP works with intermediaries that work with businesses in the development/delivery of RECP strategies and tools. One of the major group of intermediaries is the Joint UNIDO UNEP RECPnet.  For example, the Promoting Resource Efficient in Small and Medium sized Enterprises (PRE-SME) tool kit was developed with RECPnet members with SMEs as the target audience.