Waste hierarchy

The waste hierarchy is a list of waste management strategies arranged in order of preference from most preferred to least preferred. It is an internationally recognised approach to reducing waste in a meaningful way. 

The aim of the waste hierarchy is to extract the maximum use from products while generating the minimum amount of waste.

1. Avoid

  • the easiest way to avoid waste is not to purchase it in the first place. So before purchasing anything, ask yourself: Is it high quality and expected to last? Can I borrow it instead? Do I really need it? How long will I use it for?
  • avoid disposable or single use items, and use reusable items instead. Some examples include reusable coffee cups, cloth nappies, rechargeable batteries, hankies and cloth napkins, refillable ink cartridges, durable razors, furniture and appliances from second-hand shops
  • choose products with little packaging, or packaging that can be recycled. More 'bulk foods' shops area appearing throughout Brisbane, providing a way to purchase groceries without packaging
  • if you find advertising material goes straight in your bin, get a 'no junk mail' sign for your letterbox
  • say ‘no’ to plastic bags, and use reusable shopping bags instead.

2. Reduce

  • reduce your food waste by following the tips and advice in the Love Food Hate Waste program
  • reduce your unavoidable kitchen waste by transforming scraps into compost with a compost bin, worm farm or bokashi bin. Alternatively, feed food scraps to your pets. Learn more about organics recycling
  • buy in bulk where possible to reduce packaging
  • seek out items which can be upgraded or repaired easier
  • use online guides to try repair items instead of replacing them with new
  • buy only what you need. Use a shopping list and try to avoid impulse purchases
  • make 'nude food' lunches for your family. Use reusable containers and lunchboxes to make lunch without any waste.

3. Reuse

  • buy second-hand or pre-loved goods wherever possible. For a fun way to learn more about this, check out Council’s ‘Revive Second-hand Fashion Festival’ each year in August
  • borrow from friends – ask around for a loan on items that you only need to use temporarily
  • share with friends – share books, magazines, movies, games and clothes rather than purchasing one each
  • join a 'tool library' or reuse shed
  • use waste paper for scrap paper
  • donate unwanted clothes, furniture and household goods to charities
  • reuse glass and plastic containers to store food or household items.

4. Recycle

  • ensure you have a recycling bin in each room, especially the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms
  • download the Brisbane bin and recycling app
  • reduce the organic waste output from your kitchen and garden by using a compost bin, worm farm or bokashi bin, or by feeding food scraps to your pets
  • purchase products made from recycled content and help close the loop on recycling by supporting the recycled product market.

More information

Read more about our goal to reduce, reuse and recycle waste in Brisbane. Chapter five of Brisbane. Clean, Green, Sustainable 2017-2031 outlines Council's waste minimisation goals, actions and achievements.

Last updated: 9 November 2022
Topics: waste

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