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. (Source: EPA Glossary of Terms: http://www.epa.gov/osw/education/quest/gloss1a.htm)
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 “end of pipe” 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%. (Source: EPA Environmental Fact Sheet, Source Reduction of Municipal Waste) More information available at http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/envfact.pdf
Source reduction is a key strategy for meeting the Aloha+ Challenge Waste target. 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 Dashboard Team will continue to work on addressing these gaps and share information as it becomes available.
These are some potential indicators for tracking source reduction:
Reduction in weight, volume or toxicity through product redesign
Implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation resulting in volume reduction or product redesign. Link to California program: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/epr/
Reduction in Junk Mail through legislation and “opt out” programs
Reduction in waste generation through modification of Business Practices (electronic copies, two-sided printing, printing on used copies, etc)
Reduction of waste through personal and business modifications in purchasing habits (bulk purchases, longer lasting more durable products, reduction of unnecessary purchases)
Reduction of food waste (buy less, smaller portions, use leftovers)
Reduction in construction waste through design and pre-construction decisions (factory assembled systems, material reduction, new products).
Link to Hawaii Department of Health publication: http://health.hawaii.gov/shwb/files/2014/04/constdem2014.pdfAdditional information on source reduction metrics from the EPA can be found here:http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/envfact.pdf
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 we need (“voluntary simplicity” helps to cut down on waste)
Buy longer lasting, more durable products (to reduce disposal) 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. See Kauai County's Ordinance. http://www.kauai.gov/Government/Departments/PublicWorks/SolidWaste/RecyclingPrograms/PayAsYouThrow/tabid/319/Default.aspx
Demand retailers and products to use less packaging
Purchase lightly used items at local thrift shops
Repair items rather than throw them away and buy new
Use reusable containers rather than throw-away single use containers
- EPA Source Reduction Handbook and Source Reduction Publication. https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-and-reusing-basics
- Zero Waste International Alliance. http://zwia.org/
- Grass Roots Recycling Network. http://www.grrn.org/
- California Integrated Waste Management Board. http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/
- Solid Waste Association of North America. https://swana.org/
- Privacy Rights Clearinghouse’s Reducing Junk Mail Fact Sheet.
http://www.treehugger.com/culture/stop-junk-mail-7-ways-to-reduce-it-and-opt-out-for-good.html * West Coast Climate & Materials Management Forum - Food: Too Good To Waste. http://westcoastclimateforum.com/food