Waste Hierarchy

by Tsvetan Kanev April 03, 2020

Waste Hierarchy

In this blog, we will introduce to those of you who might not have heard of it before, the waste hierarchy pyramid. This graph was introduced as a simplified visualisation aid to the Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste.  

Waste Hierarchy                   (Image source: European Commission)

 

This is a directive on waste management that states should follow, however, that doesn’t mean households couldn’t apply the same principle in their day to day lives. The Waste Hierarchy states the following points in that order:

  1. Prevention - most preferred

Minimize the amount of waste through various means of control. If we avoid the initial use of resource then we avoid wasting the resource. Don't buy what you don't need. Remember, when you buy something, you are buying the whole package, wrapping and all. Look for products whose design has minimised waste by creating a better product or better packaging. Select the products that use the least hazardous materials. All items should be re-used to the greatest extent possible through substitution and postponing. Substitution is when no new materials are needed to fulfil the need. Postponing is when the life of the goods is extended through good maintenance practices, repair, cleaning and refurbishment. The goods don't become waste until further down the line.

  1. Preparing for re-use

Checking, cleaning or repairing recovery operations, by which products or components of products that have become waste are prepared so that they can be re-used without any other pre-processing.

  1. Recycling

When raw material can be recycled, major resources are saved. Recycling is usually when the material is returned to its pure state to use for something else. This includes composing if it meets quality protocols.

  1. Recovery

Combustible waste is a resource for energy extraction. Although this step destroys the resource it is preferred to disposal by landfill or combustion without gaining the benefit of energy extraction.

  1. Disposal - Least preferred

As a final step, deposit at a registered landfill or incineration without energy recovery. Incineration creates bottom ash which ends up in a landfill. Landfill has to be carefully managed; it takes decades before full remediation of the land is reached.(Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment) 

We should all aim to use less for many a reason like the ones we have discussed in our previous blog. The next best thing is reusing. Reuse as much as you can because reuse provides an excellent, environmentally friendly alternative to other waste treatment methods because it reduces air, water and land pollution limiting the need for new natural resources such as timber, oil, fibres and other.

Stay safe!





Tsvetan Kanev
Tsvetan Kanev

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