A4.11 Materials Elimination or Substitution


There are many raw materials that are harmful to the environment (and often hazardous to people). Through changing processes and products to enable the use of an alternative substance, environmental impacts can be eliminated or reduced.

The basic principle is that a polluting substance should be replaced with a non-polluting substance. Where this is not possible, then the polluting substance should be replaced with a less polluting substance.

For example:

  • Lead is hazardous and has been phased out of paint, petrol and is being phased out of solder.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are polluting. They are commonly present in paint, but several low VOC paints are now available.


The business benefits may be decreased regulation and the associated costs, if for example there are legislative controls surrounding the use of that substance. Often hazardous materials result in hazardous waste, which is more expensive to dispose of. Through reducing the use of hazardous substances there may be a reduction in waste costs.