The ‘3 Rs’ is a key principle of waste management globally. It recognizes that we can’t keep generating rubbish at ever increasing rates without serious environmental and social costs. If we look at the waste stream as being full of resources, then the approach to dealing with it changes completely. The issue then becomes how to capture and use those resources.
Reducing waste is all about not creating it in the first place. Leading companies look to reduce packaging and make goods that last a long time. As consumers there is a lot that we can do. Say no to plastic bags and bring your own basket or bags when shopping. Choose goods that will last. That cheap toy may be rubbish by the end of the day. Think about what you buy and try to reduce the rubbish you create.
Reuse is the second of the 3Rs, and refers to using what was once seen as a waste, but is now a resource again. Use your one-sided office paper for scrap paper. Re-use waste materials in creative ways by making art or even a fashion statement.
Recycling is when waste materials are treated in some way, and transformed into another useful product. Aluminium cans can be recycled to make new aluminium products, saving energy costs and resources. Plastic bottles can be recycled into plastic pipes, furniture, and even high-tech fabrics. Scrap metals are a valuable resource, but only when separated and re-processed.
The "3Rs" offer an environmentally friendly alternative to manage the growing generation of waste and their related impacts on human health, economy and natural ecosystems.