Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

The environmental approach to managing waste is known as The Waste Hierarchy, and it looks like this:

What does this mean?


A lot of people think that recycling is the best thing environmentally but Prevention is actually at the top of the hierarchy.  By not buying or producing the item initially you can both reduce waste and the resources used for its creation. An obvious way to prevent waste is to avoid products in packaging they don’t need, for example bananas in a plastic bag.


The next best option is to reduce waste.  This could be as simple buying less clothes, but we are often encouraged to take advantage of BOGOF offers or to buy in bulk.  These deals often sound good but can create a lot of rubbish as well as wasting money if not used.


Most people will be aware of this and mainly through the encouragement to carry reusable shopping bags, hot drink cups or even lunch boxes.  But you can also get reusable produce bags to avoid the plastic or paper bags that supermarkets provide (both are single use products).

Repair / Refurbish

This is not always easy and often almost as costly as buying new, but upcycling (which is a form of refurbishing) is becoming quite fashionable in todays society.  Product manufacturers are being encouraged to design products which can be repaired rather than thrown away. 


Everyone knows about recycling, but is often confused by what can and can’t be recycled.  The biggest causes of contamination in recycling are food, black plastics and coffee cups.  So please make sure your recycling is clean and dry, black plastics can’t be identified by the automated sorting process and coffee cups can only be recycled if collected separately and are free from the other items which get left in them. 

Anaerobic Digestion

Is the decomposition of food waste in the absence of oxygen. This process can decompose all food wastes but not biodegradable or compostable packaging.  The process generates a biogas which can be used as an alternative fuel to generate heat and/or power and the residue is a fertilizer which can be used on farmland.  Diverting food from landfill avoids the production of methane, 1 tonne of methane is the equivalent of around 84 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide

Energy Recovery Incineration

Is the incineration of waste but capturing the heat / energy created and using it. Modern incinerators are often cleaner and more highly regulated than some older power stations. Using waste as a fuel avoids the use of virgin fuels and captures the calorific of the waste.  Waste processed for use as a fuel is often referred to as RDF or SRF.  Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) is produced from domestic and business waste, which includes biodegradable material as well as plastics. Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) is a high-quality alternative to fossil fuel and is produced from mainly commercial waste including paper, card, wood, textiles and plastic.


Is of course the worse type of solution for managing waste as this involves burying the waste in ground.  This can cause leachate which can cause pollution if the landfill is not properly managed.  The decomposing waste can also create landfill gas which is made up of methane and C02 which are significant contributors to greenhouse gases and climate change.

War on Waste

Loughborough’s war on waste is an engagement campaign designed to support localised engagement with staff, students and/or tenants.  To date two campaigns have been delivered.

The Wolfson War on Waste

  • Engagement was undertaken over a 6 month period which saw a number of interventions including: new bins, posters, a sticker campaign, bin signage, other communications (such as emails, posters on TV & PC screens, social media, an interactive game etc.) and deep two-way communication with stakeholders in the building.
  • The average onsite recycling segregation from the building increased from 44% to 55% (according to waste contractor data) and reached 76% in one month. Composition audits of the waste showed a jump from 35% to 81%

"What a pleasure it was to work… on our recent Waste Reduction Project. Whilst of course I am delighted that we managed to increase our levels of recycling and waste segregation, perhaps the most satisfying aspect was seeing a wider environmental culture change occurring in parallel to the project. [The] collaborative approach and novel communications methods really have, I feel, made a lasting impact".

(Simon Fawcett, Operations Manager, Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical & Manufacturing Engineering)

SportPark – waste let’s get it Sported

  • Engagement was undertaken over a 3 month period using recycling quizzes, posters, stickers, waste spot checks, new communal bins and the installation of food waste caddies
  • As a result of the interventions, waste decreased by 5%, recycling increased by 5% and food waste segregation was introduced.