8.4 Benefits of reducing and reusing solid waste
Waste is becoming a bigger problem in urban areas each year. Households are producing more waste, so disposal sites are filling up and new sites are further away from residential areas. Where waste is collected and transported to a disposal site, this is becoming more expensive. Where householders have to dispose of waste themselves, they have to spend more time doing this. Anything that reduces the amount of waste that has to be disposed of helps to reduce these problems. Some other advantages of waste reduction and reuse are summarised below.
Reuse can be very helpful for disadvantaged people who cannot afford to buy new goods. These could include clothing, building materials, and business equipment. Reuse centres that collect and distribute reusable goods can also provide community benefits by engaging in job-training programmes and general training for the long-term unemployed, disabled people and young people.
By reusing materials rather than creating new products from raw materials, there are fewer burdens on the economy as a whole – especially if reuse results in a reduction in raw material and product imports. Reuse is an economical way for many people to acquire the items they need. It is almost always less expensive to buy a used item than a new one.
Reusing something uses little or no water, energy or other resources and is unlikely to cause pollution. As well as these benefits, reuse eliminates the environmental damage that would have been caused if the item had been disposed of, rather than reused. In contrast, manufacturing a product from raw materials (and, to a lesser extent, recycling) consumes resources, causes pollution and generates wastes.