Waste hierarchy

The waste hierarchy is designed to help you think about how you use resources and create waste. The best choices are at the top of the hierarchy. They produce the least waste and have the smallest impact on our environment.

The overall aim of the waste hierarchy is to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill.

Approach Method
Avoid Avoid buying unnecessary products. The first and easiest way to reduce waste going in to landfill is to stop buying products you don’t need or that won’t last.
Reduce Reduce the number of disposable products you buy. Buy reusable products, 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 is the process of turning old products into new ones to stop useful materials being sent to landfill. Recycling is in the middle of the waste hierarchy because products should only be recycled if they can’t be avoided, reduced or reused.
Other recovery Other recovery involves getting energy from waste. This can be achieved by using the by-products of physical or biological processes like waste decomposition. Examples of waste recovery include 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 choice of the waste hierarchy because it means that the waste is sent to landfill. When a product is disposed of in landfill, it will slowly decompose, take up landfill space and add to environmental problems.