What is the Waste Management Hierarchy?

It’s time to think beyond ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’

Far too often, the sides of trails are littered with old TVs, scrap metal and more. Typically, most items found can be recycled free of charge.

Reduce, reuse, recycle. This is the most common waste management hierarchy that comes to mind.

The waste management hierarchy that the ACRD has adopted is a bit broader and encompasses the following themes:

  • Rethink
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle
  • Landfill
  • Illegal dumping/burning

Rethink: This is at the very top as it challenges us to completely rethink how we interact with the world. How much waste do you produce? It’s important to look at the broader picture and assess the impact you have as an individual and where opportunities exist to make changes in your life. The power of where you decide to spend your hard-earned dollars counts.

Reduce: This looks at general consumption. Do you really need that item? How much packaging does it contain? Is it possible to find the same item with less packaging? Often times, trips to the store can end with you filling up your basket with really unnecessary items (bought on a whim) that last a week and are then discarded.

Reuse: How many times can you reuse an item before it truly is at the end of its life? Is it possible to repair or fix it? Check out online tutorials to see if you can repair. Can you create art or a game out of the item? Those old sheets and towels may find new life as rags or are welcomed at animal shelters. The possibilities are endless!

Recycle: This is fourth on the hierarchy. Just because you recycle does not get you off the hook for assessing your purchasing habits in the first place. If you choose not to recycle, why not? Do you know if an item can be recycled? Existing tools can help you figure out how to properly dispose of an item and where it can be recycled. Download the free “ACRD COLLECTS” app or phone the Recycle BC hotline at 1-800-667-4321.

Landfill: If you’ve really exhausted all options and it truly is the end of life for your article, by all means dispose of it correctly at your local landfill as the bottom of the waste hierarchy is the worst….

Illegal dumping/burning: Dumping of any sort is illegal and can cause irreparable amounts of harm. Far too often, the sides of trails are littered with old TVs, scrap metal, carpets, freezer remnants still in Ziploc bags. Typically, most of the items found can be recycled free of charge. Burning garbage is no solution either, as toxic chemicals can be released into the atmosphere by burning hydrocarbons and can cause health implications for all, especially those who are compromised with respiratory issues.

When out and about, keep asking yourself, do I need this? Is it possible to find this with less packaging? What are my options? If everyone kept these questions on the forefront of their mind, collectively it will have an impact.

For more information on local recycling services visit acrd.bc.ca/recycling or check out the Facebook page. To download the free ACRD Recycling and Waste Wizard app go to your mobile app store and search for “ACRD COLLECTS.”

EnvironmentGreen LivingRecycling

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