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Source Reduction/Waste Minimization

Solid waste management consists of materials management, which is the use of the least amount of raw materials for producing products and packaging; reuse of materials as much as possible; resource management of air, water, and land; recycling of materials into new products; recovery of energy; waste reduction through use of composting and combustion to reduce volume; and ultimately waste disposal in sanitary landfills.

Materials management attempts to limit the quantities of material to be ultimately put into a landfill or incinerator by use of source reduction, reuse of materials, and recycling of materials.

Source reduction occurs through a change in the design, manufacture, and use of various items to reduce the quantity and toxicity of the product and ultimately the wastes, while making the same product. Source reduction or waste prevention is an economically realistic means of eliminating or reducing the amount of material used which ultimately becomes waste or hazardous waste. It involves use of minimal or reusable packaging; use of durable equipment and supplies; reuse of products and supplies; reduction of hazardous constituents; using materials more efficiently; reduction of energy usage, water usage, and raw material usage; and eliminating unnecessary items. The best technique utilized for waste prevention to achieve source reduction varies by category of waste and by industry.

Resource management involves limiting the amount of electricity, water, and land needed for production and packaging of products and the use and recapture of energy which can then be made into electricity from the remnants of the products, byproducts, and packaging materials.

Best Practices for Source Reduction/Waste Minimization (See endnote 13)

  • • Conduct a study of the business or industry to determine the quantity and type of solid waste being created for disposal. Based on this information, establish a program of source reduction to conserve resources and reduce the amount of solid waste being produced at the source, adding to the bottom line by reducing the amounts of money needed for removing the solid waste and for purchasing additional raw materials, office supplies, wear on equipment, shipping costs, and time spent by personnel.
  • • Use or manufacture minimal size or reusable packaging.
  • • Use and maintain properly durable equipment that can be repaired easily and inexpensively, and supplies.
  • • Reuse products that can be washed and/or disinfected in place of disposables.
  • • Reuse file folders, interoffice envelopes, outdated stationary, etc.
  • • Substitute less hazardous or non-hazardous material for hazardous material allowing for less expensive disposal.
  • • Use supplies and materials more efficiently by purchasing only that which is necessary and not having to throw out outdated substances.
  • • Review the use of all materials and determine which ones are unnecessary and can therefore be eliminated from purchase.
  • • Use fewer raw materials in the products when feasible.
  • • Make products more durable and easier to repair thereby increasing their lifespan.
  • • Make product packaging recyclable.
  • • Keep excellent records in order to evaluate the amount and type of solid waste sent to disposal versus the original study and determine areas of strength and reinforce them and determine areas of weakness and change them.
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