Prevention at source

The week commencing November 19th is European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR); perhaps not as appealing as London Fashion Week to the masses but worth a tout nonetheless.

The aim of this pan-European initiative is “to raise awareness more specifically on the act of preventing the production of waste prior to waste collection.” Promoters claim that we can make savings of up to €512 (£441) per person per year (based on an overall shopping trolley for 4 people) by implementing good habits while making purchases. These good habits include using a shopping list, choosing fruit and vegetables by weight rather than pre-packaged versions, selecting the exact amount you need from deli produce rather than pre-packed, buying non-perishable items in bulk or large packs, etc. For more tips and facts of interest to readers, beyond waste geeks like me, try taking the EWWR’s waste quiz.

The EWWR offers online and downloadable press support, communication tools, ideas for activities, case studies and examples of good practice. Perhaps the most interesting device on the website is a repository of waste prevention actions which have taken place during past EWWR initiatives. In true European-style this database is available in six European languages with a ‘Google Translate’ function filling in any gaps. Having a quick browse there is a bank of 804 activities categorised under ‘Better consumption’ in Italy and 251 initiatives under the theme ‘Less waste thrown away’ in the United Kingdom. This rich catalogue is worth a peep whether you are in search of inspiration to set up your own action or simply curious to know what may be happening in your area.

A few colleagues working on the Evaluation of the Volunteer Network for Zero Waste Scotland will be attending some of these EWWR inspired events as part of the qualitative fieldwork we are conducting.

Moving down the waste hierarchy from waste prevention to reuse and recycling, another website which recently caught my eye is Oxfordshire Waste Partnership’s Recycling A-Z. By simply entering your postcode, a preferred distance and then selecting a type of item from over 20 categories – including less commonly recycled/reused categories such as paint and automotive waste – you can find your nearest recycling and/or reuse facilities. Ideally this valuable mapping tool should be extended for nationwide coverage.

Whether through our seamless joined-up thinking or by chance, we will be unpacking a lot of the attitudes and behaviours behind waste prevention, reuse and recycling at the upcoming Influencing Resourceful Behaviour conference.

Given the current economic climate and social hardships, the objective of prevention at source should cease to be such political kryptonite.


  1. Posted April 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I really like this article. its really intresting and your point of view is really captivating.

  2. Posted November 12, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s important if for no other reason that we are being taxed in to recycling more by the EU. If targets are not hit (EU landfill directive) there are billions in fines to pay.

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