What is the Waste Management Hierarchy?

What is the Waste Management Hierarchy

Introduction To The Waste Hierarchy

To prevent throwing away items, the waste hierarchy displays what ways to manage waste are best, in order from most sustainable to less sustainable. Understanding what is the waste management hierarchy can help to ensure products and raw materials are best used and dealt with. Extending the shelf life is important to reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfills, which is the absolute last resort.

What Are The 5 Steps Of The Waste Hierarchy?

In summary, the stages of handling waste items is to reduce (prevention), re-use, recycle, recover and dispose. Each stage will be discussed in more detail below and will help to inform you of the ways to manage your waste management. 


The first waste management option is to prevent less waste from being made to begin with. If fewer materials and packaging are used in the production and consumption of items then the amount of waste generated will be lower.


Giving a product a new purpose and re-using it, is the second preferred option of dealing with waste. A person or company may find a use for an item that is no longer needed by its owner. The term ‘upcycling’ is when an item or material has been re-created or used in another way, which gives more value to the item than previously.


Turning waste products into a completely new product is made possible by recycling. Although recycling is generally thought to be the most common approach to sustainably getting rid of waste, it is further down the waste management hierarchy.  The majority of plastic is not yet recycled. (link). Therefore, it is more sustainable to prevent and reduce materials ending up in recycling centres or landfills in the first place.


This category covers the process of using waste materials to produce energy, which is also known as energy recovery. This includes allowing waste to decompose such as food, garden waste or burning waste to create fuel.


However items are created, used and disposed of, the bottom of the waste stream is to throw away the product. With an ever-increasing amount of waste being sent to the landfills or ending up being burnt to get rid of the waste, both release dangerous gases into the atmosphere. Manufacturers and related businesses have an environmental responsibility to limit waste ending up in landfills. ‘Waste streams’ is the term used to describe a product’s route from the beginning of being created to the final stage of recycling or disposing. Different materials will have different end stages such as electronic waste disposal will be different to plastic and may be more challenging than others. Consideration should be taken when designing or providing products.

How Bailey’s Can Help

The waste management hierarchy is useful to know, whether you are running a business or clearing out your family home. Understanding the best next steps to take when a product or item is no longer of use to you, can help to reduce the overall amount of waste and limit the damage and pollution of the environment.

Bailey’s Skip Hire and Recycling specialise in providing waste management options for our customers. We take pride in accommodating our client’s needs and questions that they may have. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to know more about what we can do for you or what advice we may be able to provide to you so that you can best deal with waste items. 


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