Let’s start from the beginning and look at what exactly is waste.
To start here is the definition of waste from the handy Wikipedia:
“Waste…is unwanted or unusable materials.”
And Dictionary.com (definitions that are relevant):
Verb (used with object)
1. To consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return; use to no avail or profit; squander: to waste money; to waste words.
2. To fail or neglect to use;
Verb (used without object)
1. To be consumed, spent, or employed uselessly or without giving full value or without being fully utilised or appreciated;
1. useless consumption or expenditure; use without adequate return; an act or instance of wasting.
2. neglect, instead of use;
3. anything unused, unproductive or not properly utilised;
4. anything left over or superfluous, an excess material or by-products, not of use for the work in hand;
5. remnants, as from the working of cotton, used for wiping machinery, absorbing oil etc.
6. garbage, refuse.
1. not used or in use;
2. left over or superfluous;
3. having served or fulfilled a purpose; no longer in use.
4. obsolete; excessive, needless.
Wikipedia also has the following helpful definitions:
The Basel Convention: “Substances or objects which are disposed of or are intended to be disposed of or are required to be disposed of by the provisions of national law.”
The United Nations Statistics Division: “Wastes are materials that are not prime products (that is products produced for the market) for which the generator has no further use in terms of his/her own purposes of production, transformation or consumption, and of which he/she wants to dispose. Wastes may be generated during the extraction of raw materials, the processing of raw materials into intermediate and final products, the consumption of final products, and other human activities. Residuals recycled or reused at the place of generation are excluded.”
After looking at those definitions the best one is the wikipedia definition combined with the United Nations Stats Department definition. At any stage of a product’s (or service’s) life there will be waste, some part, process or ingredient that is not wanted or able to be used. When the raw ingredients are extracted or made there will be waste, when the product is designed there will be waste (paper, prototypes etc), when the product is manufactured there will be waste and then when the product is transported there will be waste, as it is consumed there will be waste (packaging, energy) and then when it is no longer able to be used or no longer wanted (as it isn’t trendy or technologically up to date) it will be wasted, thrown away.
Now, what we need to do is make the whole process more efficient to reduce the amount of waste at every single stage (either through product or system redesign, reduction or reuse) and make products that can be reused, repurposed or recycled then we will have a less waste going to local landfills or to other countries.
As always SIFT is keen to hear any ideas that you might have to help reduce waste to landfill.