What is the Waste Hierarchy and Why Should I Care
In short, the Waste Hierarchy is a set of options for managing waste, with the most highly recommended (because it’s best for the planet) listed at the top, and the least favoured sat firmly at the bottom as a last resort.
So, what does the Waste Hierarchy actually look like, and how much should you, as a business owner or individual, worry about where most of your waste management is falling in this concept? Well, let’s have a little look.
The answer to why you should care is plain and simple: everyone has a responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint and you are not a special exception to the rule – sorry!
Absolutely any company or organisation, regardless of whether they’re commercial or not-for-profit, has a duty to take into consideration the Hierarchy when choosing options for disposing of their waste. And we use the word ‘disposing’ loosely, because – as we’ll see below – disposal in its truest form is actually the very last option available to you.
Of course, the very best option for managing your waste is actually preventing the need to create waste in the first place. This could be through using less materials in the design and manufacturing process or keeping and using certain products for longer.
It’s clearly near on impossible to prevent waste completely, so the second go-to option when waste is produced is to ensure that it is in a fit state to be re-used. Guidance on this includes steps like cleaning, repairing and refurbishing and can be applied to either whole products or individual parts.
Probably the most self-explanatory of all points featured in the Waste Hierarchy, to recycle means to turn the waste into a new substance or product, and this can mean either internally within the organisation that has produced the waste or by passing it on to a third party who is able to make use of it. Our online platform, Mercorr Connect, is a great tool for businesses looking to maximise their use of this step in the Hierarchy, and you can find out more about it here.
The ‘Other Recovery’ step in the Hierarchy includes process such as anaerobic digestion, incineration, gasification and pyrolysis, which produce energy and new materials from waste. The Mercorr Connect platform is also incredibly useful for organisations who are looking to transfer their waste to a third party who may be looking to purchase waste for any of these processes. The platform allows those purchasing the waste – the ‘Processers’ - to explain during their bid, how the waste will be processed, in order to give the Creator of the waste the best piece of mind about the impact they are having on the planet, even long after the waste has left their hands.
Mercorr Connect enables users to manage their waste daily in the most sustainable way possible.
And so we land at the very bottom of the waste pit (funny, aren’t we?). To dispose of your waste means for it to end up in landfill or be incinerated with no energy produced as a result, and no further product created off the back of the process. As mentioned previously, Disposal should be seen as the very last resort for any business looking to reduce their carbon footprint and have a positive impact in every area of their business activities – even right through to the end of a product’s lifecycle.
And, since now all waste transfer notes and consignment notes have declarations on them to state that the Waste Hierarchy has been applied to the waste, there is no excuse for any business to claim ignorance when it comes to the disposal of their waste products.
The Mercorr Connect platform helps you find the right waste management options for you, by connecting Creators (those who produce the waste) with Processors (those looking to obtain the waste) and digitising the entire process for both parties.