Reducing Waste and Increasing Circularity – Principles and Action Plan

26. okt 2023

Key waste reduction principles, often referred to as the 3R principles (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), are the foundation of sustainable waste management and are designed to minimize the generation of waste, conserve resources, and protect the environment. 

As per the general criteria for waste prevention and minimization, companies are required to implement every feasible measure to prevent waste generation and ensure that any waste produced does not pose an excessive risk to the environment or human health. Waste prevention strategies should encompass the use of modern technologies, with an emphasis on reusing waste whenever possible. Ideally, companies should plan, design, manufacture, or import products that are reusable or have extended lifecycles. Additionally, minimizing the use of hazardous substances in materials and products is of utmost importance.

Using reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging, for example, is part of many companies´ ESG plans and targets. This includes related education and engagement of your customer base and other stakeholders as well. 

The 3R action plan principles

  1. Reduce (or source reduction)

This principle focuses on minimizing waste generation at its source. It involves consuming and producing less to reduce the overall volume of waste. Key strategies include:

  • Purchasing products with minimal packaging

  • Using durable and long-lasting goods

  • Avoiding single-use items

  • Implementing efficient production processes to reduce material waste

  • Promoting responsible consumption 

  1. Reuse

Reuse encourages the use of products and materials for their original purpose or for alternative purposes, extending their lifespan and reducing the need for new items. Key strategies include:

  • Repairing and refurbishing items instead of discarding them

  • Donating or selling items that are no longer needed

  • Using reusable containers, bags, and other products

  • Finding creative ways to repurpose items, such as upcycling.

  1. Recycle

Recycling involves collecting, processing, and converting materials into new products, reducing the need for raw materials and conserving resources. Key strategies include:

  • Separating recyclable materials (e.g., paper, glass, plastics, metals) from non-recyclables

  • Using recycled materials in your products, supporting (partnering up with) other businesses doing the same

  • Participating in community recycling programs

  • Education about and promotion of recycling to your customers, employees, and other stakeholders 

While the focus is on waste reduction, some waste is inevitable. Responsible disposal ensures that waste is managed in ways that minimize harm to the environment and human health. Key strategies include: properly disposing of hazardous waste materials and supporting environmentally sound disposal practices, such as waste-to-energy technologies, for non-recyclable and non-compostable waste. 

Education and awareness play a vital role in waste reduction so please consider encouraging of related behavior change and responsible consumption within your key target audiences as part of your waste reduction action plan.