Jonathan Mayglothling discusses how to improve environmental efficiency by taking advantage of the waste hierarchy.
There is a revolution on the horizon in the waste sector.
Earlier in 2019, the UK became the first major economy to pass laws that will end its contribution to global warming by 2050. The means we must effectively bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by the deadline. Unfortunately, the waste sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. This means that to achieve this target, we must rethink our approach to waste management.
Progress is being made. In 2008 the EU Waste Framework Directive launched a set of principles, dubbed the ‘waste hierarchy’, that outlines the most efficient way to manage waste. In the form of a funnel, it identifies the most desirable waste management strategies at the top, and the least desirable at the bottom.
The 6 stages of the waste hierarchy
- Prevention: The top level of the waste hierarchy is prevention. This aims to try and avoid the production of waste in the first place. This is of course the preferred waste management solution.
- Minimisation: If prevention is not possible, minimisation is the next best thing. This level aims to minimise the amount of waste that is produced when utilising a product.
- Reuse: Next up is reuse, which as the name suggests, aims to find another use for a product beyond its original purpose.
- Recycle: If reuse cannot be done, then we should look to recycle, in which waste materials are reprocessed into other products, materials or substances.
- Other recovery: If none of these options are possible we move to other recovery. Although this does sound vague, it aims to investigate other waste management possibilities prior to disposal. This includes anaerobic digestion, incineration with energy recovery and more.
- Disposal: Once all levels within the hierarchy have been deemed impossible, waste disposal is the final option. This usually means sending waste to landfill, which has a high environmental impact. This is a level we must look to eradicate altogether.
The business benefit
It is clear that the higher up the waste hierarchy we are able to manage waste, the lesser the impact will be on our environment. But there are business benefits to managing waste more effectively too. The higher up you can get, the more money you can save in the long run.
That said, the waste hierarchy should only ever be used as a guide; expert advice should always be sought in order to ensure the best solution for your waste.
To learn how Mayglothling could help you manage your waste in a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective way, visit: www.mayglothlingwaste.com/total-waste-management/waste-audits/