3Rs – Reduce, Reuse & Recycle
Waste prevention is defined as the prevention of waste at source or eliminating waste before it is created. Minimisation is reducing the amount of waste that we produce.
Waste prevention is defined as the prevention of waste at source or eliminating waste before it is created. Minimisation is reducing the amount of waste that we produce. However, this is very difficult as almost all purchases are packaged, and a great deal of what we buy is designed for use once and then disposed.
However, we can make a difference with a little bit of thought about the products that we buys or how we do things. For example:
- Bring your own shopping bag to the shops
- Use washable nappies and handkerchiefs
- Purchase refillable containers for cleaners, washing solutions and detergents whenever possible
- Buy products such as washing up liquid in large containers to help minimise packaging waste
- Purchase rechargeable batteries rather than disposal batteries
- Use a refillable ink pen rather than a disposable biro
- Avoid disposable products, e.g. nappies, tissues, face wipes, razors, paper and plastic cups, etc
- Buy a home composter for your garden and kitchen waste and use it!
- Use a milk delivery service
- Re-use envelopes
- Avoid over packaged products and try to buy unpackaged products
- When items break, try to repair them rather than replace them
- Buy products in returnable containers wherever possible
- Use resealable containers for school or work packed lunches
- Pass on any unwanted clothes and furniture to friends, charities or second-hand shops
- Avoid using cling film and aluminium foil. Use a box with a lid instead
- Buy products made from recycled materials
If a product is reused, in the same state, the product has gone through no additional manufacturing. So reusing means there is no more need for energy consumption and no extra raw materials required.
Re-use is on the third level of the Waste Management Hierarchy. If a product is reused, in the same state, the product has gone through no additional manufacturing. So reusing means there is no more need for energy consumption and no extra raw materials required.
Many of us reuse without thinking twice about it, like getting a pair of shoes re-heeled or buying a second hand car. However, many of the things we use could be repaired, and have their life extended instead of being thrown away. A good example of re-use is to donate items such as clothes, bric-a-brac, books, etc to a charity shop.
Recycling is the processing of waste manufactured products to provide the raw materials to make new ones.
Recycling uses less energy and causes less pollution than using raw materials. It also reduces the demand for imported raw material and the amount of waste being sent for disposal.
However, for recycling to be economically feasible and recycling schemes to be successful, there must be markets into which the materials can be sold. The supply of waste materials must balance demand for recycled products.
This is easier said than done, recycling markets are often precarious with prices of materials fluctuating. This makes it difficult to obtain long-term markets for recycled materials.