Waste Management Hierarchy
Waste management hierarchy refers to a guide that is used in prioritizing practices in waste management that is accepted internationally. The objective of this hierarchy is to achieve optimal environmental results. The hierarchy sets out preferred order of practices in waste management.
Using this hierarchy, waste management experts have been able to conserve resources and protect their environment. Waste management hierarchy provides waste legislation and policy. For waste management to be sustainable, an integrated approach is required instead of technical end-of-pipe solutions.
This hierarchy depicts a preference order of actions that is aimed at reducing and managing waste. A diagram is used to present the hierarchy in a pyramid. This hierarchy captures progression of product or material via successful stages in waste management and it represents latter part of life cycle of a product.
Waste management hierarchy is aimed at extracting maximum benefits of a product while generating the least waste amount from it. Several benefits can be derived from proper application of the hierarchy. For instance, proper application of waste management hierarchy can prevent greenhouse gases emissions. It can also save energy, reduce pollutants, create jobs, stimulate green technologies development and help in conservation of resources.
Waste management hierarchy ranks stages on the basis of their importance to the environment. Top priority is given to prevention measures. This is because if no waste is produced, then there will be no waste to dispose of. Once waste has been produced, it has to be prepared for reuse, recycling, recovery and then disposal.
The steps in waste management hierarchy are as follows:
- Prevention: Prevention is the most vital step in waste management hierarchy. This entails prevention and reduction measures which promotes efficiency in the production and use of available resources. Among the measures involved in this step include the use of materials that are less hazardous, keeping products in use for long, and using fewer materials in manufacture and design.
- Reuse: Materials that can be reused are not disposed but instead they are checked, cleaned, repaired, refurbished and then used.
- Recycle: This entails collection of the used and reused or even unused materials that would be considered as waste and remanufacturing them for use in producing new products.
- Recovery: Recovery entails recovery of the materials and energy. Different processing and conversion methods are used in this step.
- Disposal: After exploring all possibilities, disposal is usually the last resort. Disposal is an operation that entails incineration and dumping of waste with no material or energy being recovered.
For many years, companies have used waste management hierarchy to maximize the use of the available resources.
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