Materials Management

Since the late 1980s, recycling and composting have captivated the public’s attention as a solution to environmental problems associated with solid waste. But the State of Oregon and many other organizations recognize that there’s an even higher priority than recycling and composting: waste prevention. In fact, Oregon law defines waste prevention as the number one priority method for managing solid waste in Oregon.

Waste prevention is an upstream activity that involves reducing waste through changes in the design, purchase, and use of materials. In its simplest form, waste prevention means using less stuff. Waste prevention has the potential for large environmental benefits because it typically reduces environmental impacts over all stages of the life cycle of materials: resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation and end-of-life management (such as recycling or disposal). For households and businesses alike, waste prevention can also typically save much more money than recycling or composting.

“Waste prevention” is sometimes associated with reuse because they both reduce waste generation. Waste prevention is very different from recycling. Recycling is a process for redirecting discards away from disposal and back into the flow of commerce, where they are transformed and used as feedstocks to make new products. In contrast, waste prevention is about not making waste in the first place – through changing what we use and how we use it.

Publications

 

​Waste Prevention and Reuse Element Plan Templates and Guidance Documents

Waste Prevention and Reuse Outreach Campaigns

DEQ is developing three waste prevention campaigns to help local governments encourage consumers and businesses to reduce the wasting of food and make smarter choices when purchasing and using textiles.