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Most Australians have read about, or at least heard of the Waste Management Hierarchy, but are unsure how it is relevant to their day-to-day activities, or how they can implement it in their lives.

We’ve decided to discuss each part of the Hierarchy, starting at the most preferable waste behaviour, to help you, our readers, get a better understanding of the grading system.

Avoidance

This is the most important part of the Hierarchy, and can simply be described as “Prevention is better than cure”. This means that you should think about whether it’s truly necessary to buy or utilise certain products that will create waste. If the answer is yes, see if you can’t use biodegradable, or environmentally friendly alternative products instead.

Reuse

If you cannot avoid using certain products, try to choose items that can safely be reused multiple times. This help minimise the impact the product will have on the environment. A good example of reusable products are water bottles, or buying refill packs instead that can be used with items, like detergent.

Recycle

The third most important segment of the Hierarchy, recycling, allows us to reclaim and repurpose base materials from existing products. It’s important that everyone recycles as much as they can, but it’s even more important to ensure you recycle the correct products, and when placing them in a recycling bin, make sure they are the correct product type.

Recovery of energy

If items cannot be recycled, waste agencies will attempt to recover the energy stored in the products. In short, this means burning the material in a safe and environmentally friendly way, to recover energy that can be applied to other sectors of the economy.

Treatment

Treatment entails the processing of waste to make it acceptable to landfill requirements. This process is intricate and is broadly focused on identifying and removing harmful chemicals and materials from waste intended for the landfill, and ensuring that renewable materials are recycled.

Disposal

Disposal is the least preferable, and last step of the Waste Management Hierarchy, during which waste that has been treated and made safe for the environment, is disposed of in demarcated landfills.

If you have any questions about the Waste Management Hierarchy, or want information regarding proper waste disposal, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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