How Can I Compare Technologies?

compost_poopA lot of people wonder how to compare new technologies that come on the scene promising a greener world, healthier life or better waste management.
Below is an Evaluation Table that we developed with our students Morgan Stephens, Tessha Mearing, and Penny Cross (Tessha and Penny are now graduates). You can apply this comparison tool to any product you are considering purchasing.

Evaluation Tool to Compare Similar Technologies

Field of interest


How important you feel this feature is.

Points scored
can be positive or negative but not zero.

Subtotal for that feature = Weight multiplied by points scored.


Is this a Procreative (+ve points) or a Degenerative (-ve points) Investment? Or parts there-of? (see chapter on Community Recycling to define investment types)

Will the money spent on the purchase encourage the supplier or manufacturer to investment in better technologies?
(Yes = +ve points)

Is the place of manufacture local? Reduce score for significant transportation, size and weight of freight.

Is the supplier local and have they been in the industry long?

Modular investment

Is there a way to modify and existing technology by adding a new module?

Limitations of User

List any restrictions eg. Some users/sites have restricted solar, wind, land ownership, local government by-laws, legal constraints, cultural expectations.

Purchase Cost

Purchase or parts cost in cash $

Purchase labour you must spend on installing and learning to operate this
(work out your labour cost in $)

Ethical cost – What is the cost to the environment and the workers and families who live in the mining and factories localities?

Environmental cost of full production and of components including embedded energy.

Is the embedded energy able to be reused later?

Running Costs

Moving parts = wear and tear. How many moving parts are there and how important are they?


Modular parts – are the parts able to be replaced, are they common and easily available? Or does a large component require replacement?


Estimate life span of the technology with maintenance

Is this technology fit for your future needs?

Ease of maintenance, does it require a specialist trade to be maintained?

Running labour cost

How much time is required to run this technology? e.g. Per day or per km or per kilowatt

Operational Ease

Can a child or elderly person operate this technology safely?

Educational Benefit

Would the user gain educational experience from use of this technology?


Pollutants (smoke, compaction, other)


Visual (eye-sore or work of art?)

Space required that other things could have eg. Storage or land space has a cost.


Is the system or device relocatable?

By Products. These can be
useful (+ve) or harmful (-ve)

chemical by-products

Physical by-products

Accumulation of by-product.

volume of product is also a factor in determination of usefulness.

Ease of management of by product required? Is specialist knowledge required? Do users need to be trained and educated?

How much time is required to manage the by-products?

Can the by-product be sold or reduce costs elsewhere?


Can the technology cause a catastrophe?

Is there risk of damage to other things?

Can the technology or device cause an injury to someone else? e.g. Some cars are safer for pedestrians than others.

Energy Efficiency

2nd law of Thermodynamics – how much energy is lost during running?

What happens to potential energy when the system is not running.

Other considerations