1.3.2  The waste hierarchy

The waste hierarchy is shown in Figure 1.4 and is discussed in Study Session 9. The hierarchy ranks the different ways of dealing with waste in order of desirability. At the top is waste reduction, which means not generating waste in the first place or minimising the amount of waste produced. Below that is waste reuse (for example, refilling a drinks bottle), followed by recycling (processing of wastes into new raw materials). A fourth option is the recovery of energy by burning or biological treatment. Disposal, ideally in a landfill site, is the final option for any wastes that cannot be dealt with in any other way. A landfill site is an area of land set aside for the final disposal of solid waste.

Figure 1.4  The waste hierarchy.

The top three stages of the hierarchy (reduction, reuse and recycling) are often referred to as the ‘3 Rs’, a term we will use throughout this Module.

  • What are some of the ways that you could reuse wastes at home.

  • Some suggestions are to:

    • use empty food containers to store food that was bought loose
    • refill plastic drinks bottles with water
    • use clothes from your oldest child to dress younger children
    • use worn-out clothes as cleaning cloths
    • give books to friends when you have finished with them.

1.3.1  The sanitation ladder

1.4  Sanitation and waste management in urban areas