Source reduction, also called waste prevention, means consuming and throwing away less. Source reduction can be achieved by purchasing durable, long-lasting goods, as well as seeking products and packaging that represent a reduction in materials, energy consumption or toxicity.
The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Reduction saves natural resources and cuts waste management costs. By designing, manufacturing, purchasing, or using materials in ways that reduce the amount or the toxicity of trash created, less waste is generated, and fewer natural resources are used.
Municipalities can do a great deal to reduce the use of resources in their own operations and community. It can be as simple as just changing day-to-day practices such as cutting down on the amount of printing or printing on both sides of the paper or as complex as instituting a full-fledged procurement policy. Improving procurement practices is perhaps the most effective tool municipalities have for reducing waste. By changing procurement practices, municipalities can not only reduce the amount of material they consume in the first place (which saves money!), they can also send a strong message to industry to produce high-quality products that do not have unnecessary packaging, are durable and recyclable at the end of their life.
There are many examples of municipal initiatives and resources that support reduction; many of these examples are included in the following categories:
- Bottled Water Sales Bans
- Single-Use Plastic Bag Reduction Initiatives
- Yard Waste Reduction Initiatives
Benefits of reduction activities include:
- Saving money
- Reduced disposal
- Reduced extraction of virgin materials
Costs to municipalities will generally include the staff time necessary to implement or change programs and processes and promoting these changes to the wider community as examples that residents and local businesses can follow.