Preventing the production of waste
Waste prevention refers to the measures taken to minimize the amount of waste produced. In the hierarchy of waste management waste prevention is the primary goal, with recycling and utilization as secondary goals.
Many of these measures are to be taken in places that are not generally viewed as a part of the waste management system as such. Waste prevention can begin as early as when products and services are being designed, manufactured, distributed and finally chosen and utilized by the consumer.
Consumers can prevent excess waste from being produced by consuming less, selecting products that will serve for a long time and buying products that use less energy and natural resources. The choices made by consumers will eventually also have an impact on the producer and thus can influence the design of any future products, ideally so that they are made to be as ecologically as possible.
- Sustainable development: the material economy of any given society should be based on the cost-effective and economical use of natural resources. Sustainable development can be achieved by using more recycled materials, improving the material efficiency of products and lengthening the life cycle of products.
- Material efficiency: comprises reducing the use of, recycling and optimizing any natural resources used. The less material is being used for any given product, the more economically natural resources are being used. Material efficiency can be improved by making multi-functional products, lessening the amount of wasted material in production, shortening the transportation distances involved and using products communally (eg. leasing, renting etc.)
- Ecological efficiency: refers to actions taken to produce the maximum amount of services and well-being with the minimum amount of natural resources. Where material efficiency mainly deals with increasing the efficiency of the manufacturing process ecological efficiency refers to the natural resources consumed during the products entire life cycle.
- MIPS: Material Input Per Service unit. A tool used to evaluate the ecological efficiency of any given product or service. Compares the materials used to the “benefit” received from the product.
- Ecological backpack: refers to the natural resources that have been extracted to manufacture the product but are not a part of the product itself. Examples of these “excess” resources include waste from mining, fuel used for transportation and water used in the manufacturing process.
- Examples of ecological backpacks:
- Toothbrush: 1,5 kg
- Gold ring: 2000 kg
- Orange juice, 1l 25 kg
- Coffee machine 298 kg