September 22, 2020

Understanding the Waste Hierarchy

What is the Waste Hierarchy?

The waste hierarchy is a framework that prioritises waste management strategies based on their environmental impact. 

It emphasises the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling waste before resorting to disposal methods like incineration or landfill. Understanding the waste hierarchy is essential for promoting sustainable waste management practices and minimising environmental harm.

How Does Waste Hierarchy Apply for Businesses?

Compliant waste management is critical in the protection of your people, your organisation, your patients and the environment. To keep everyone safe and comply with legislation, it is vital that waste producers understand the fundamentals of compliant waste management.

It is a waste producer’s responsibility to:

  • Keep waste to a minimum by doing everything possible to prevent, reuse, recycle or recover items.

  • Identify, segregate and store waste safely and securely in suitable containers.

  • Clearly label containers with the type of waste that they contain.

  • Complete a transfer note for each load of waste that leaves your premises.

  • Only use a registered waste carrier to transport, and licenced/permitted facilities to dispose of specialist waste.

  • Take all reasonable measures to ensure that waste does not cause pollution or harm to human health.

In addition to these, regulations also place a requirement for organisations to apply the waste hierarchy.

The Waste Hierarchy Pyramid

The waste hierarchy pyramid ranks 5 waste management options for optimum protection of health and the environment, prioritising waste prevention and ending with disposal.

  1. Prevention

    Keeping products for longer and using less hazardous materials.

  2. Re-use

    Cleaning, checking, repairing or refurbishing whole or spare parts to use again.

  3. Recycle

    Turning waste into a new product.

  4. Energy recovery

    Includes processes which produce fuels, heat and power from waste materials.

  5. Disposal

    Surrendering waste to landfill or incineration without recovering energy.

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