The Waste Hierarchy is a concept for the recycling process, centring on 5 steps; reduce, reuse, recycle, recovery and disposal. The hierarchy is intended to encourage people to re-think not only how their waste is managed and divert away from sending the waste directly to landfill, but also how they can reduce the amount of waste they produce. Please see below for a brief explanation of the 5 steps of the hierarchy:
Reduce – as well as looking at reducing the amount of things we buy, particularly goods which are not constructed or packaged using recyclable material, the Reduce step can be applied to the general “think green” motive such as turning lights and electrical items off when not in use, etc.
Reuse – can be applied to the composting of certain food waste materials but also things like repairing damaged furniture, buying second hand goods, etc.
Recycle – waste is sorted by the kind of material it is constructed of then it can either be processed to produce a higher quality product or “downcycled” to produce a low-value, raw material.
Recovery – this is the process of creating energy by incinerating waste material, typically using material which cannot be recycled into a usable product.
Disposal – any remaining waste which cannot be recycled or used for energy must be disposed of in an appropriate manner.