'Reduce, reuse and recycle'

The idea of reduce, reuse and recycle is one that forms part of the waste hierarchy and has helped people to think about the environmental impact that they have.

There will also be a reduction in the amount of waste that ends up in the council-run landfill sites.

The image below shows that preventing waste in the first place is the most favourable option. Where this is not possible, then re-using products or recycling is better for the environment than disposal in a landfill.

The hierachy of how we should deal with waste

Reduce

This is when people purchase less ‘stuff’ so that it reduces the amount of energy required to manufacture and transport goods.

Initiatives are introduced to encourage people to turn lights off, share lifts and take shorter showers in order to reduce energy.

Some campaigns have also focused on ensuring that people reduce the amount of waste that they put into different bins e.g. not putting food waste into general waste bins but into organic waste bins.

Reuse

This occurs as people use different materials again but do not convert them into different products.

People might reuse food containers and bottles instead of throwing them out or use travel coffee mugs instead of single-use cups.

In recent years in Northern Ireland, one major success in this area has been different initiatives to encourage people to reuse their shopping bags.

‘Bags for Life’ and more robust plastic shopping bags have largely replaced single-use supermarket shopping bags.

Recycle

When waste materials are collected and separated out into their different component ingredients, these can then be remade into different products.

Energy is required to recycle the product and to change it's physical properties into something totally different.

For example, the plastic from bottles might be made into public benches or fleece jackets.