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Waste Hierarchy

The rate at which we are currently generating waste is unsustainable and we need to think about what we consume in order to minimise what we send to landfill each year. It is becoming increasingly important to understand how our behaviours at home and at work can help reduce the amount of waste we produce.

The waste hierarchy is a nationally and internationally accepted guide for prioritising waste management practices. The aim of the waste hierarchy is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste. The below waste hierarchy lists the approaches to dealing with waste in order of preference. The most preferred option is located at the top and the least preferred option is located at the bottom.

Waste Hierarchy
Approach Method
Avoid Avoid unnecessary purchases. The first and easiest way to reduce waste to landfill is to avoid buying products that won’t last.
Reduce Reduce the amount of disposable products you purchase. When you buy products that are over packaged, you are effectively spending your money on waste. Buy products with less packaging and/or buy in bulk.
Reuse Reuse anything and everything you can. Many products can be given a second life after being used for their original purpose.
Recycle Recycling involves reducing a product into its composite materials, then using those materials to form a new product. Recycling is positioned at the midpoint of the waste hierarchy, this means products should only be recycled if they cannot be Avoided, Reduced or Reused.
Other recovery Other recovery involves retrieving energy from waste. This can be achieved by capturing and utilising the by-products of physical or biological processes, e.g. heat from fire, or gas from anaerobic decomposition.
Treat Treatment is any process used to reduce the environmental threat of waste by changing its chemical, biological or physical state.
Dispose Disposal is the least preferred option of the waste hierarchy. When a product is disposed of, it will slowly decompose in landfill where it occupies space and contributes to various environmental problems.