What is waste prevention?

Recent News


Speculation about launch of a Zero Waste Economy for England.

It has been suggested that when Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman reveals the priorities from Defra's waste policy review, these may include a Zero Waste Economy initiative for England. Details of the announcement are expected at the CIWM Annual Conference in June.

Beyond Recycling

Waste prevention, what is it and what does it look like?

What does waste prevention look like?

At a business level, waste prevention is primarily about cutting costs, but also about corporate social responsibility.

At a philosophical level, waste prevention is about decoupling resource consumption from happiness. It's about making fewer things, more efficiently, and choosing fewer things and using them more efficiently. In practice it combines a mix of policy, practical measures and behavioural changes. Beyond Recycling can help you with all of these.

Here are just a few examples. There are plenty more!

Practical behaviour change tools

  • Providing information and raising awareness about choosing durable, reused, reusable, repairable, upgradeable, less-packaged, and fewer goods.
  • Discouraging disposal of reusable items.
  • Moving from products to services.
  • Introducing waste prevention into education.

Practical measures

  • Developing lighter weight and reusable products and packaging.
  • Shifting from using virgin materials to recycled materials.
  • Developing local exchanges, freecycle groups, etc.
  • Improving collection methods and services for large, reusable items.
  • Reducing unwanted mail.
  • Improving reuse facilities at recycling centres.
  • Establishing skills training for refurbishment.
  • Encouraging prevention or composting of commercial organic waste.

Strategic measures

  • Increasing producer responsibility.
  • Forging links between local authorities, manufacturers and retailers and others, and encouraging retailers, authorities and third sector organisations to work together.
  • Breaking down barriers between end-of pipe waste management and beginning of pipe solutions.
  • Breaking down the conceptual barriers between commercial and municipal waste.
  • Learning from experience in other areas and countries.