Source Reduction

  1. Source Reduction
  2. Most Important 3 Rs
Reducing Solid Waste for Businesses and Industry
Until recently, many business and industries have not paid much attention to the municipal solid waste a company produces. Companies are seeing a dramatic increase in the complexity and costs of managing their waste and at the same time public concern over the effects of all this waste has grown.

Innovative companies are incorporating waste reduction principles into their daily operations. What exactly is waste reduction? Waste reduction includes all actions taken to reduce the amount and/or toxicity of waste requiring disposal. It includes waste prevention, recycling, composting, and the purchase and manufacture of goods that have recycled content or produce less waste. Businesses are reviewing their entire operation to identify and implement as many opportunities for reducing waste as possible.

Waste reduction can help protect the environment as it slows the depletion of natural resources; helps reduce pollution associated with the extraction of raw materials and the manufacture of products as well as conserves valuable landfill space. Some waste reduction efforts also serve to reduce hazardous constituents in solid waste.

Waste Reduction Approaches
  • Recycling is the collection and use of materials that would otherwise have been discarded as the raw material in the manufacture of new products.
  • Composting is a natural process by which food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic materials are collected and allowed to decompose under controlled conditions into a rich, soil-like substance called compost.
  • Purchasing is the procurement of products made from recycled materials and/or designed to result in less waste after their useful life.
The most effective way to reduce your company's waste is to generate less in the first place. Companies can adopt a wide range of waste prevention strategies, including:
  • Using or manufacturing minimal or reusable packing. Encourage suppliers to minimize the amount of packaging used to protect their products and work with suppliers to arrange for return of shipping materials such as crates, cartons, and pallets for reuse.
  • Using and maintaining durable equipment and supplies. These items will stay out of the waste stream longer, and the higher initial costs are often justified by lower maintenance, disposal, and replacement costs.
  • Reusing products and supplies. Reuse common items such as file folders and interoffice envelopes.
  • Reducing the use of hazardous constituents. Look at reformulated products such as toners with no heavy metals and water-based paints and cleaning solutions.
  • Using supplies and materials more efficiently. Double-sided copying and eliminating unnecessary materials and supplies by purchasing only what you need.
Manufactures can also consider lowering costs and preventing waste by changing their manufacturing processes.

Before You Throw it Out
companies can dispose of materials that other businesses, nonprofit organizations, or community groups could use in their operations. Instead of being thrown away, these materials can be traded, donated, or sold. Consider a materials exchange where items such as building supplies, manufacturing remnants, and old equipment are transferred instead of becoming waste.

Source: USEPA/WasteWise website