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SOURCE REDUCTION AND RECYCLING

19 Dec 2009

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What It Is
Source reduction is decreasing the amount of materials or energy used during the manufacturing or distribution of products and packages. Because it stops waste before it starts, source reduction is the top solid waste priority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

What Source Reduction Isn't

Source reduction is not the same as recycling. Recycling is collecting already used materials and making them into another product. Recycling begins at the end of a product's life, while source reduction first takes place when the product and its packaging are being designed.
The best way to think about source reduction and recycling is as complementary activities: combined, source reduction and recycling have a significant impact on preventing solid waste and saving resources.

Why It's Important
  • Source reduction conserves raw material and energy resources. Manufacturing thinner gauge films and bags requires less energy to manufacture and transport.  (LDPE and LLDPE resins have become more sophisticated and can be run at a thinner gauges with equivalent strength to thicker material. )
  • Source reduction reduces releases to air, land and water. For example, it takes less fuel to transport lighter weight materials.
  • Source reduction cuts back on what has to be thrown away. That helps keep solid waste disposal costs down, which is good for municipal budgets and consumers.