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Last Updated
Thursday, 12 January 2017
A garbage dump

Reducing Waste

The purchase and consumption of goods and materials is part of everyday modern life. What we do with the by-products, used packaging and waste produced from this process has a dramatic impact on the environment at local, national and global levels.

The rate at which we consume has a direct impact on the environmental result i.e. the greater the consumption, the more waste created and the greater the environmental impact.

All members of the local community – including businesses and government – have a responsibility to develop and implement sustainable ways to manage the resources we consume, and the waste created as a result. By consuming in a more sustainable way, and thinking of waste as a resource, we will be able to manage waste more strategically and create positive environmental, economic and social outcomes.

What you can do to reduce waste?

There are many things you can do to reduce the waste you generate.
The 4Rs give us a framework for how to go about:

  • reducing our consumption of resources
  • minimising the amount of waste we produce
  • recovering resources which otherwise would be wasted

What are the 4Rs?

  • 1. Refuse
  • 2. Reduce
  • 3. Reuse (and compost)
  • 4. Recycle (and buy recycled).

Refuse:

Avoid waste in the first place by rejecting or refusing it. Say no to plastic bags, packaging and extra wrapping. When you are replacing larger household items such as electrical appliances, ask the manufacturer if they will take back the used, unwanted item and any packaging the new product comes in. Many producers internationally are now accepting that they have some responsibility for the products they produce after the end of the product’s life. As consumers we have the buying power to further influence manufacturers and producers by refusing products that cannot be reprocessed or remanufactured in some part.

Reduce:

Reduce the amount of waste you generate by selecting products that are not over packaged. Think about how you can reduce the waste that may come from a particular activity. For example, if you take your lunch in a reusable airtight container and a drink in a refillable bottle you can have a ‘no waste lunch’. On the other hand, if you buy a takeaway disposable plastic container of food with disposable cutlery and a polystyrene container of drink you will generate a considerable pile of waste for the garbage bin.

Reuse:

Before you recycle it, try to re-use it. Why not recreate it for another purpose. Repair and re-using parts of things for other uses is also resourceful. Before throwing things away always offer it to friends, a charity, a second hand shop or have a garage sale. Reusing organic material, through composting, mulching or worm farming is also a great way to cut down your organic waste. About 40% of what most people put in their waste bin is organic kitchen scraps. This material can make great compost for your garden. Reusing garden sweepings, such as leaves, for garden mulch is also a great way to minimise your garden waste.

Recycle:

Once you have exhausted all options for an unwanted item, then it may be possible to recycle the item by placing it in your recycling bin provided by Council. Recycling requires a number of processes including collection, transportation, sorting and reprocessing. While recycling is much better than disposal, some materials are easier to recycle than others. In addition, recycling is only useful if there are markets for the recycled items. By ‘buying recycled’ products you will assist in keeping recycling a viable option for reducing waste.

For up to date information about recycling everyday household items, check out the Recycling Near You website.

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