Waste Avoidance And Minimisation
Waste minimisation is aimed at reducing the production of waste through education and improved production process rather than aiming to increase technology to improve treatment of waste. The idea of minimisation is not centred on technological advances, it can be viewed a method of managing existing resources and technology in order to maximise the efficiency of available resource use. Minimising waste generation has the potential to reduce costs or increase profits by maximising the use of resources and by reducing the amount of waste to be disposed of the cost of waste management is also decreased.
Waste minimisation is perhaps the most important element of the Waste Hierarchy and also the one which presents the toughest challenges. Unfortunately, in spite of growing awareness in the community about the need to reduce waste, waste generation rates have continued to rise in line with growth in our standard of living. A recent study of attitudes to wasteful consumption made the disturbing finding that young people are both more likely to engage in wasteful consumption and less likely to feel guilty about such behaviour (Hamilton et al, 2005).
Examples of avoidance techniques include:
Consideration for individuals
- Buying goods in bulk;
- Reconsidering superfluous purchases;
- Purchasing products in materials/packaging that is readily recycled;
- Use of alternatives, e.g. landscaping that creates mulched gardens in place of lawns; and
- Use of composting and vermiculture practices
Consideration for industry
- Change in product design to reduce materials consumption;
- Using crates instead of pallets to avoid the need for shrink wrap;
- Incorporate Eco-Design technology into production processes;
- Adoption of Cleaner Production practices that ensure avoidance through efficiency measures; and
- Conduct regular audits and monitoring of waste reduction/resource recovery practices.
Considerations for Local Government
- Encourage community 'avoidance' activities, e.g. promote competitions rewarding initiatives in the area of resource recovery;
- Lead by example, e.g. display mulched gardens throughout the municipality; and
- Provide facilities and infrastructure to assist industry, business and the community to undertake resource recovery practices, e.g. kerbside recycling and resource exchange registers.
Clive Hamilton, Richard Denniss and David Baker, March 2005, Wasteful Consumption in Australia, The Australia Institute, Canberra.