Source Reduction (Waste Reduction)
What Is It?
Source Reduction is the first tier of
the solid waste management hierarchy. The term source reduction is used
to describe those activities that decrease the amount (weight or volume)
or toxicity of waste entering the solid waste stream. Simply stated, source
reduction means cutting disposal by going right to the source: deciding
not to make or buy something. It can also mean cutting down on disposal
of toxic materials by going to the source and making products out of less
toxic feedstock. It also includes those activities that increase product
durability, reusability and reparability.
Why Do It?
saves natural resources, and saves the fuel needed to change those resources
into products. It saves landfill space. It can save you or your business
money in disposal and replacement costs. Everything in your trash each
week cost you money the day you bought it, and costs you money to remove,
and placed a burden on the environment when it was made. It all took energy
to produce, and when you throw the item out, you are giving up on all
that investment of energy and materials. To learn more about how we use
up resources, and how we can minimize our impact on the earth, visit:
How Do I Do It?
Source Reduction At Home:
“Pay-as-You-Throw" Systems -
In communities with Pay-as-You-Throw programs (also known as per container
systems, unit pricing or variable-rate pricing), residents are charged
more or less for trash collection, depending on the amount they throw
away. This encourages residents to reduce the amount of waste that they
generate and to separate recyclables more carefully. Twelve towns in New
Jersey now use such systems. Residents from these towns believe that this
type of system promotes fairness. Comparison studies show that these towns
recycle more and dispose of less waste than their neighbors. If you are
a policy-maker in your town, and you believe this kind of system would
be right for you, please contact Sondra Flite of the NJDEP, Bureau of
Recycing and Planning at email@example.com.
New Jersey Municipal Pay-As-You-Throw Programs
"Grass - Cut It and Leave It"
– The objective of these programs is to get residents to leave grass
clippings on the lawn when they mow as grass clippings provide a natural
and healthy fertilizer for a growing lawn. The NJDEP, Bureau of Pesticide
Operations and the Center for Turfgrass Science advocate this approach
to lawn care. By cutting your lawn short and removing the clippings, you
are robbing your lawn of its own natural fertilizer and creating a waste
that must be hauled away for disposal or recycling by a truck. This, of
course, adds to the negative environmental impact of this practice since
disposal vehicles use fuel and produce air pollution. By cutting your
lawn higher and leaving the clippings on the lawn, you can use less water,
fertilizer and pesticides, and expose yourself to fewer toxic materials.
Grass - Cut It and
| DEP estimates that as much as a ton of clippings is generated for
every acre of turf grass each year. With nearly 900,000 acres in New
Jersey covered in turf, that adds up to big transportation requirements,
fuel use, and air emissions.
Backyard Composting – Reduce waste by composting
your food scraps and yard trimmings in a backyard compost pile. For more
information, visit the following websites:
"Source Reduction in the Garden"
- Summer, 2006 article
Toxicity Reduction – NJDEP is working
with manufacturers to keep toxic material out of new products, but sometimes
they can not be avoided. In addition, many old products that contain significant
amounts of toxic materials are still in our homes.
People are exposed every day to toxic materials in their own home in
the form of cleansers, pesticides and from fumes from paint and carpeting.
Fortunately, comparable products with little or no toxic constituents
are available in today’s marketplace. Visit the following website
to learn how to reduce toxics in your home:
To dispose of toxic materials found in the home contact your county
about upcoming household hazardous waste collection days. Visit: http://njhazwaste.com/
for more information on county household hazardous waste collection
Do you know what turns on the lights in your car when you open
Up until recently it was a mercury switch. Mercury is a toxic metal
that vaporizes easily when it is released from the glass containers
in the switches. The Department recently initiated the Vehicle Mercury
Switch Recovery Incentive Program, which rewards junkyards for removing
the switches from autos before they are crushed for recycling. This
practice will reduce mercury emissions from the smokestacks of iron
and steel melters. In the future, manufacturers will use switches
that do not contain mercury.
Did you know that the NJDEP has worked with the Toxics in Packaging
Clearinghouse since 1991 to implement the "Toxic Packaging Reduction
The Act requires manufacturers of packaging and packaging materials
to reduce the amounts of certain toxic substances added to packaging
and packaging components.
Green Shopping – Buy more durable goods, so you
won’t be replacing them as often. Buy in bulk to save money and
reduce packaging waste. Visit the following websites to learn more about
source reduction through shopping:
Watch Those Disposables!! – While disposable products
have revolutionized our lives in many positive ways, their widespread
use has resulted in a significant increase in garbage generation. Purchase
durable items instead of disposable products whenever possible. To learn
more about disposables, visit the following website: http://www.reusablebags.com/store/
Junkmail – Still sorting through the junkmail
to make sure that you don't miss that once in a lifetime coupon? If you're
tired of reading and sorting it for recycling, you can put a stop to it.
Consumers can contact catalog companies and ask to be removed from
their mailing list. Company phone numbers typically can be found on the
To stop receiving credit offers, call: 1-888-5-OPTOUT, or (1-888-567-8688).
https://www.catalogchoice.org/ - Catalog
Choice is a free service that lets you decline paper catalogs you no longer
wish to receive.
Learn How to Receive Fewer Phone Books!
Pay Bills Online – Pay major credit card and utility
bills online, and eliminate incoming and outgoing mail. Besides being
convenient, this practice eliminates paper documentation that could lead
to identity theft.
Source Reduction and the Holidays:
Waste Reduction Ideas for the Holidays
Source Reduction at the Office:
Computers did not bring us the paperless office as predicted. In fact,
we use more paper than ever. It costs money to buy it, store it, and print
on it. Needless use of paper adds up to lost profits and environmental
damage. Even though paper can be recycled, it is still better to cut it
right out of your operations, where possible.
- Use those computers to cut paper use. Post notices electronically,
and send documents for review by e-mail. Let the recipient decide whether
to print or not. Set up shared file systems to let people access documents
without requesting a hard copy. Store files electronically only.
- Reformat facsimile forms to avoid a cover sheet.
- Buy printers and copiers that print on both sides – the technology
is available. If you can not print two-sided documents, and if you have
many printers, you may want to designate one to be the draft printer,
and print on the back of used paper.
- Let your staff know that office materials do grow on trees; reuse
old folders, use old memos for scrap paper, reuse office furnishings.
It all comes from the company's bottom line, and it all uses natural
- Target your direct mail audiences to reduce your contribution to junk
mail. Avoid duplications on your mailing lists. Visit www.ecologicalmail.org/.
- Stop receiving catalogs, magazine and other bulk mail addresses to
former employees. Visit www.ecologicalmail.org
for more information.
- Visit the following websites for more information:
Other Workplace Source Reduction Suggestions:
- Use refillable products such as pens, pencils, tape dispensers and
- Use solar powered calculators
- Reuse bank deposit bags
- Eliminate single use cups
- Use round-trip packaging containers and padding
- Buy less toxic and energy friendly products.
- Visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmentally
Preferable Purchasing website at http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/epp/
for additional information.
What is ReUse?
In setting source reduction strategies, the first priority is the elimination
of waste; the second is reuse. Reuse programs keep materials that would
otherwise be discarded out of the waste stream and make items available
at lower costs or at no cost.
Donation - We sometimes forget that the things we
no longer need can help those who have less, and items that we think
are outdated are still of value to others. With this in mind, the Department
sponsored the printing of a “redistribution manual” entitled
“A Place for Everything – The Ultimate Redistribution Guide
for Mercer, Middlesex & Monmouth Counties.” The manual provides
information about those organizations in your area that collect goods
for various charities.
For a copy of “A Place for Everything – The Ultimate Redistribution Guide for Mercer, Middlesex and Monmouth Counties”, contact Audrey Rockman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Preferred pricing is available to any service organization wishing to use the guide as a fundraiser.
Reuse Opportunities Listed By Material (list includes names and websites of organizations involved in reuse of various materials)
Resale – Garage sales and consignment stores
allow used goods to move from hand to hand, and return a portion of
the original cost to the former owners. By purchasing used items, you
help to keep materials out of the landfill and cut down on the number
of new goods manufactured.
Rental – Consider renting those tools that you
may only need for one project rather than buying them and having them
sit idle for years and deteriorate unused. For example, big power tools,
landscape tools, snow blowers and even furniture can be rented.
Sharing – Your neighbors and family can share
big items like extension ladders and chain saws.
Materials Exchanges – These enterprises accept
large volumes of business or home furnishings for sale at low prices.
They are good for large corporations who wish to update their equipment,
while avoiding the cost of disposal of the old items, and they help
start-ups obtain equipment at low cost. Visit the following websites
for more information: http://www.redo.org/
Sustainability and Simplicity Movements:
Source reduction is a component of both the sustainability and simplicity
movements. Sustainable practices are those that meet the needs of the
present with out compromising the ability of future generations to meet
their own needs.
Simplicity means finding out if you would be happier with less: less
to clean up and put away, fewer work hours, fewer cars, fewer scheduled
activities each day, less debt and less stress. It can mean more, too.
More time for friends and family, more health.
If you are a public policy-maker, visit:
If you are a business policymaker, visit:
If you are an educator:
Contact: Steve Rinaldi, NJDEP, Bureau of Energy and Sustainability – Steven.Rinaldi@dep.nj.gov or 609-633-0538