Four wastes

Types of waste

Additional Information

  • The four wastes

Understanding that there are several types of waste is vital. 


Waste audits or 'bin dives' can determine the composition of the bin contents. This helps the business gain insight into what they are disposing of. This can lead to reducing the waste being generated, thus reducing resource use and the costs and logistics of waste disposal.

A wider review of business operations can identify logistical and operational waste.More radical change helps businesses recognise the opportunities to move from a linear economy to a more sustainable, circular one.


Tackling waste


Tackling waste starts with product design, whether through increasing recycled content of packaging through to considering what happens at the end of a products life. Making products from single material products, or ensuring ease of dismantling means recycling and return of resources to the economy is easier.

Prevention and minimisation starts with examine the life cycle of products. Data from a variety of sources can be used.

Consumption habits can be influenced by helping customers consider the consequences of purchasing and using different products or materials. For example, single use plastic packaging is in the forefront of many customers minds, and businesses who embrace the reuse of packaging find financial and environmental benefits.

Effective and efficient collection systems help materials re-enter the economy. 


Collection systems

There are a variety of collection systems for different products

  • Standard container collection - e.g. household and commercial collections
  • Post back - such as Nespresso coffee pods
  • Take-back - for example tyre companies, opticians for old glasses
  • 'Parasitic collection systems' - add-on niche services alongside kerbside collections
  • New for old swaps - e.g. white goods/appliance replacement
  • Store bring back - some shops will take back packaging or used product without needing new purchasing
  • Charity donations - usually for resale
  • Charity doorstop collection - 
  • Business take-back e.g. some clothing shops take-back clothing for recycling and for discounts of new clothes
  • School collection e.g. for ink cartridges, mobile phones etc to raise funds
  • Reverse vending machines - starting to roll out in locations across the UK
  • Household recycling centers - usually council run
  • Supermarket delivery scheme bring back - able to return plastic bags to the driver



Waste HIERARCHY triangle

Waste can be interesting

Especially if it saves you money and reduces the waste being generated

Recycling isn't the best option

Refusing... rethinking... redesigning... reducing... reusing... are better. 

Not all recycling is the same - upcycling - making a higher value product - is preferred to downcycling - making and inferior product.

It's what we do...

We can help compare your resources and products against the waste hierarchy triangle to determine if there are better options