There are a variety of ways to describe waste management. EnfraWaste uses the Five-R model to describe waste management. The Five-R model includes: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recovery, and Residual Management and is broadly defined as:
The first strategy for waste management is to reduce as much as possible the amount or toxicity and the amount of material that enters the solid waste stream. This requires significant change to how communities and consumers live, which requires long-term policy and societal change. A reduction policy is mostly future oriented and involves policy many organizations and communities cannot influence much in the present.
The second strategy for waste management is to ensure that materials or products are reused as many times as possible before being discarded. In our present world, 99% of what is consumed is discarded within six months. Until society changes the way it consumes, a Reuse strategy does not divert much of the waste currently being discarded. A Reuse policy is mostly future oriented and involves policy many organizations and communities cannot influence much in the present.
The third strategy for waste management is to recycle as much material as possible. Composting can also be included in this section. Many organizations and communities already have some form of policy on recycling. Recycling now covers a vast number of categories. For example, various jurisdictions within Canada recycle such common residential goods as:
Multi-packaging and printed materials,
Electronics – audiovisual and telecom, cell phones, computers, accessories, and IT equipment, electronic tools, televisions
Household hazardous & specialized waste – batteries, corrosives and irritants, aerosols, solvents, and flammables, paint, pesticides/fertilizers, and containers, pharmaceuticals, sharps/syringes
Automotive – lead acid batteries, tires, used oil, oil containers, and/or filters
The fourth strategy for waste management is to recover as much material and/or energy from the solid waste stream as possible through the application of technology. The Recovery strategy views waste not as something to be discarded, but as a valuable resource to the community or organization.
Through proven waste recovery technologies, a variety of different types of waste can be turned into a valuable byproducts which can be repurposed instead of discarded. Modern waste recovery facilities can be safely operated onsite within communities with no harmful emissions.
For many communities or organizations, up to 90% of the waste that otherwise would be dumped in a landfill can be addressed at this stage.
By not adopting a Recovery strategy, the community or organization loses in three ways. It spends money to pay others to haul the waste away, it probably spends annual tipping fees for the waste to be accepted at a landfill site, and it misses the opportunity of attaining some form of valuable benefit for the community or organization.
The fifth and final strategy for waste management is to provide safe and effective waste disposal. Unfortunately, many communities and organizations around the world use a landfill strategy in their residual management. This is the least effective strategy of dealing with waste. It does not deal with the waste, it just buries it. By adopting a Recovery strategy, many communities and organizations could divert up to 90% from being buried in a landfill site. Sending garbage to a landfill many miles away creates unknown environmental issues for future generations.