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.
Templates and guidance documents for local governments
Waste prevention outreach campaigns
DEQ has developed waste prevention campaigns to help local governments encourage waste reduction in communities.
- Make Every Thread Count is an Oregon public awareness campaign that encourages Oregonians to think differently before buying clothes, make smarter choices at the register and extend the life of their clothing. Oregonians are smart, practical consumers and this campaign shows how simple steps can greatly reduce the environmental impacts associated with clothing.
- Wasted Food Wasted Money is a public awareness campaign designed to help commercial generators of food save money by reducing wasted food. This includes grocers, restaurants and commercial kitchens and campaign materials are designed to address each audience. To reduce waste, this campaign outlines four simple steps and provides tools and resources to help businesses succeed.