Why use the Waste Hierarchy?
Why use the Waste Hierarchy?
During the pandemic you may have found that your business waste management goals have gone out of the window in the effort to keep afloat. But during this time it’s still worth continuing to be mindful of consumption, waste and recycling. Being waste conscious can even help you save money.
The amount we consume on an individual and business scale is constantly increasing. Evolving technology, consumer demand and affluence is fuelling the growth of waste. It’s having a grave impact on our environment. This is currently being highlighted at COP26, with targets set for businesses to provide their evidence of sustainable targets by 2023. There are already a variety of initiatives in place that help to advise and control business waste. One is the waste hierarchy.
History of the Waste Hierarchy
The Waste Hierarchy was developed as a guide for waste brokerage companies to move towards a ‘zero waste economy’. All contributing to a sustainable environment where we consider what we consume as a business. It became the law for these companies to follow the guide in 2011. You can also follow the principles of the hierarchy in general business.
What does it consist of?
The 5 principles in the waste hierarchy are as follows:
Whatever the material, the idea is that producers try and prevent it needing to be disposed of in the first place. Ways to do this could be by altering the specification to use less materials or designing the product in a way that increase its life. Other ways include using less packaging to transport the item or finding a way to use less hazardous chemicals in production.
Example – re-designing the spec and size of a deodorant canister to save packaging
Preparation for reuse
Ensure the product is ready for recycling. All components need to be separated and recycled. Other ways to reuse include repairing and refurbishing the item ready for use by an alternative consumer.
Example – using the parts within a mobile phone for refurbishment and use again.
Break down the product or mix it with existing products to transform into something new. Or donate the product to charity in order to give it a new home.
Example – baling shredded paper and sending to a paper mill to be mixed with other paper fibres to create paper towels.
Incineration of products to create energy (fuels, heat and power). Burning waste instead of sending it to landfill to create energy to power our homes.
Example – food waste incineration to create gas.
The item is not recoverable or recyclable and there is no choice but to send to landfill. This is the last and only resort for certain materials but can be avoided if the other 4 principles are followed correctly.
Example – certain non-recyclable plastics or mixed plastics that cannot be separated for recycling
What is it for?
The principles of the waste hierarchy may be used by any business looking to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill disposal. It’s good practice for any business to undertake an audit to see where prevention of material, trying different production techniques create less waste, and recycling more can be made.
Benefits of using the Waste Hierarchy
As an ethical business, it’s good practice to see what can be prevented from going into landfill. This can be incorporated into your general goals for maintaining sustainability as a business. The cost-savings are measurable too, through using fewer virgin products such as wood being harvested, or plastics having to be created from scratch. Simple planning techniques may save a considerable amount of raw materials and avoid any wastage. Considering using sustainable recycled plastics, paper and metals such as aluminium for way of showing commitment to zero waste.
The Shredding Alliance are committed to using the Waste Hierarchy when dealing with your waste products. Why not contact us to see how we can help you cut down on your waste, and recycle anything we can via our network of shredding providers.