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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An example of planning for sustainable production : the dry-cell battery problem Kowey, Bernadette Nola


Growing awareness of world-wide environmental degradation has prompted the global community to explore alternatives to present human activities, and present economic development models. One concept which has emerged within this exploration is that of Sustainable Development. This thesis specifically uses the concept of Sustainable Development as Rees (1988, 1988a, 1989) and Gardner (1989) define it. Sustainable development will require substantial changes in the productive sphere. An 'energy spiral' is used to depict each stage necessary in the creation, use and disposal of a good. The social and environmental costs of each of these stages of production are explored. The positive impact of integrating re-use, recycling, recovery and replacement strategies into the consumption, production and disposal cycle for goods is described. In this thesis dry-cell batteries are used as an example of products which create problems in their disposal: heavy metals contained in these batteries exist in concentrations which require these spent batteries to be considered hazardous waste. Responses to this problem in other countries are described and critiqued. Present methods and planned strategies for hazardous waste disposal within the GVRD and the city of Vancouver are noted, and analyzed as to the sustainability of these methods and strategies. Specific plans for the disposal of dry-cell batteries are described and critiqued. Using the principles for sustainable development from Gardner (1989) and the 'energy spiral' together provides a synthesis of these two concepts. This framework provides planners and analysts a base from which strategies for sustainable production can be determined. The possibilities for use of this framework are explored, with a specific focus on dry-cell batteries. In considering the whole life-cycle of such a product, and not just focussing on the disposal stage of that cycle, responses that are more useful and pro-active can be devised. Some of the organizations and structures which presently exist and will be useful in establishing a base for the kinds of change that sustainable development will require are mentioned.

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