The most effective way to deal with waste is through a Waste Prevention approach. This approach focuses on changes in lifestyles and in production and consumption patterns. By not generating waste in the first place, we can eliminate the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose
Irish households now have Pay By Weight charges on waste, which is aimed at encouraging more people to recycle & compost.
The debate surrounding waste management has put forward a method of positive action with regard to waste known as the Waste Hierarchy. At the top of the Hierarchy is prevention and avoidance of the generation of waste, and at the bottom, the least preferred option - disposal.
Summary of Waste Hierarchy
- Prevention/Minimisation: Before any purchases are made, consider are they even needed. Shop smart – buy in bulk, use refills etc.
- Reuse: This is where a product is bought and sold on with the same purpose. E.g. clothes banks, jam jars - there is no change.
- Recycling: A waste is processed into a new product often not related to the initial item. E.g. glass, plastics and composting.
- Energy Recovery: Taking waste/part of a waste stream, and using it as a fuel. E.g. making paper logs, waste-to-energy plants.
- Disposal: 40% of everyday / municipal waste was recycled in Ireland in 2012, which was also the first year that the percentage tonnage of municipal waste recovered (59%) exceeded the percentage tonnage disposed (41%). There are a number of factors which led to such improved figures – an increase in using municipal waste for fuel generation and increased landfill levies.