The waste hierarchy
There are many ways of disposing of waste. The waste hierarchy lists these methods in a sliding scale, from the most environmentally friendly option to the least:
Prevention (Reduce) – the best option, this focuses on reducing waste being produced in the first place
Reuse – for example, using old food containers as lunch boxes or old plastic bags as bin liners
Recycle – taking materials from old products to make something new, like making car parts from old metal drinks cans
Energy recovery – creating energy from waste, for example by burning it to produce electricity
Disposal – the worst option, this often involves burying rubbish in landfill where it produces methane, a greenhouse gas
What can you do?
There are lots of ways that you can help to reduce waste where possible and, where waste is created, dispose of it responsibly. Here are a few examples:
- Get a sturdy shopping bag, or re-use supermarket carrier bags to avoid having to use new plastic carrier bags.
- Don't use cling film or kitchen foil to store food. Put it in reusable boxes with lids or re use margarine tubs and other containers.
- Buy loose rather than prepacked fruit and vegetables - but remember to only buy what you can use.
- Love food, hate waste. Learn how to save yourself £50 every month by making the most of leftover food. Visit the Love Food Hate Waste website (External link) where there are lots of tasty recipes as well as hints and tips on how to store food and buy responsibly to avoid food waste.
- Register to get your bills and bank statements sent to you online, rather than on printed statements.
- Nappies - about 800,000 tonnes of nappies are disposed of every year, costing local authorities millions. Real nappies now use Velcro fastenings - there are no pins required, and many areas have a nappy laundering service. Contact the Real Nappy Campaign (External link) for advice.
- Make the most of your kerbside recycling services The council offers kerbside collections of many items, such as paper, garden waste, plastic bottles and containers, glass bottles and jars and metal cans and foil.
- Don't bin garden waste. If you have a green bin, you can use that for fortnightly collection of garden materials (please don't include food or plastics). Alternatively, you can compost at home with a specially priced home composter. Ring 0844 571 4444 (local rate number) to order or request one online at our partner's website, Get Composting (External link).
- Don't forget that aerosols can be recycled too - they account for 4% of all metals used in the UK each year. Aerosols can be recycled in your Brown bin at home or just drop empty aerosols into any can bank.
- For waste that cannot be recycled at home, check to see if your local Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) can take it instead.