Source Reduction

By 2030, support changes in design, material use, and manufacturing that reduce waste and toxicity.

What is "Reduce"?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Definition of Source Reduction: Often called “waste prevention” is any change in the design, manufacturing, purchase, or use of materials or products (including packaging) to reduce their amount or toxicity before they become municipal solid waste (EPA Glossary of Terms).
Source reduction is the practice of stopping excess waste “upstream.” It is the most preferred option in the EPA waste management hierarchy and should be considered prior to any “downstream” solutions. Source reduction helps create less waste in the first place. It includes reducing the amount of material used to accomplish a particular task; reusing a product in its original form; or using repairable, refillable, and durable products with the capacity for a longer useful life. 
According to available data, current source reduction activities across the country already reduce the volume of our waste stream by 11% (EPA Environmental Fact Sheet, Source Reduction of Municipal Waste). 
Source reduction is a key strategy for meeting the Aloha+ Challenge Solid Waste Reduction goal. There is currently not a source reduction goal set for the Dashboard because there are many local and national data gaps in the collection, monitoring and evaluation in this area. The statewide network will continue to work on addressing these gaps and share information as it becomes available.
Strategy: Waste Audits
Getting to zero waste requires an analysis of waste habits, in order to identify intervention areas. Over 2017 and 2018, the UH System Office of Sustainability analyzed the waste in trash receptacles (excluding recycling bins) at UH Manoa, UH Maui College, Honolulu Community College, Kapiolani Community College, and Leeward Community College.

Learn More and Make a Difference

We can all play an important part, at home and at work, to help reduce the amount of waste created every day. Here are some simple solutions that will make a difference:

  • Buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste
  • Buy only what is needed (“voluntary simplicity” helps to cut down on waste)
  • Buy longer lasting, more durable products
  • Minimize paper use at work
  • Support legislation for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
  • Opt out of Junk Mail
  • Share non-essential items (this helps to build community too!)
  • Support "Pay-As-You-Throw" programs, such as Kauaʻi County's Ordinance.
  • Refuse bags and straws from retailers and suggest they use less packaging for their products
  • Purchase lightly used items at local thrift shops
  • Repair items rather than throw them away and buy new
  • Use reusable containers rather than single-use containers

More Information

SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development