When the new waste law appeared in 2011 it specified in its article 8 which were the best destinations for them, being in order of preference:
- Waste prevention
- Preparation for reuse
- Other types of valorization
As we can see, the administrations indicate as a priority and preferable something with a lot of common sense but that sometimes is not given much attention: waste prevention.
The question is that how much waste of the more than 80 million tons generated in Spain alone in 2011 could be avoided without more effort than a little awareness.
Nowadays there are many techniques and machines available to recycle almost any waste, but the interesting thing is that all these efforts could be less if prevention techniques were implemented from the beginning.
To promote these ideas was established the “European Week for Waste Prevention”, a European project that has the support of the +LIFE program of the European Commission and aims to disseminate the concept of prevention showing the environmental impact of waste and climate change.
All this communication is structured around 5 major themes:
- Excess waste. Today’s society produces too much waste and it is unbearable, contributing negatively to the environment, society and the economy.
- Improved production. All processes both when manufacturing products and in any economic activity must be reviewed from the perspective of waste prevention.
- Rational consumption. Encourage responsible behavior in purchasing, favoring those sustainable designs, bulk purchases and others.
- Longer life. Of the products, promoting the repair of the same and the donations.
- Less waste. Improvement in daily habits, avoiding waste of food.
On this subject there is a more widespread idea, and it is the “3 Rs Rule”, which consists of a proposal on better consumer habits, since it is from here that greater achievements can be demanded and achieved.
This idea is based on the 3 R’s, which are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Measures on the importance of reducing waste, both those produced at the source of the product (manufacture and distribution) and the final (consumption and disposal).
Measures on the possibility of giving products a second life, promoting repair instead of buying new ones, or donating/exchanging them.
Measures on the classification and separation of waste in homes and taking it to the corresponding places: urban containers, special collection points or eco-parks.
How to prevent waste?
Waste reduction can be of two types: quantitative (when focused on volume) and qualitative (when focused on the pollutants in a product).
An adequate prevention policy must have a generalist approach and cover the whole life cycle of a product: design, manufacture, distribution and consumption. In this way the maximum benefits will be achieved.
With this waste the main problem is the enormous consumption of food and the enormous production of waste derived from it, especially food scraps, packaging and plastics.
Possible measures would be focused on a responsible and rational purchase, a demand for products with less polluting substances and adjusted packaging, as well as the use of food surpluses, either through donations or private composting.
The large amount of packaging waste can be reduced by demanding products with less heavy packaging, reduction of substances used in packaging, easily separable packaging to facilitate recycling and encourage bulk buying.
The measurements in this he focus is on proper driving: correct tire pressure and moderate driving without hard braking or acceleration. The aim is to extend the life of these products without compromising safety.
Paper and cardboard
These products are part of our life and are very numerous. The generation of these residues has experienced a notable increase, mainly due to the use in offices, commercial purposes and packaging.
A rational consumption in offices is advocated: printing the essential and double-sided and responsible purchasing observing the weight and origin,
Regarding books, encourage the exchange, donation and rental, as well as digital books. On commercial uses and mailbox advertising I would highlight a stricter regulation of these activities.
Textile and footwear
Responsible consumption: with the purchase of durable products that do not go out of fashion, replace products for specific occasions (such as party dresses, …) with rental products, organic products with natural materials and extend the life of the same according to the manufacturer’s instructions for washing, ironing and drying.
Reuse and second hand stands out with these products and is widespread: they can be donated to organizations to be given to people in need, or to the person’s family and friends. There is a second hand market where they can be sold and bought.
The only thing to do with this waste is to replace the single-use waste with rechargeable waste.
Electric and electronic devices
Preventing this waste is possible by promoting their life span and repairing damaged products instead of throwing them away and buying new ones.