Waste reduction, commonly referred to as source reduction, involvs adopting strategies to minimize the use of materials and energy, thus leading to decreased waste generation and the preservation of natural resources. This approach encompasses techniques that prevent materials from becoming waste even before entering the recycling phase. Practices like reutilizing plastic and glass containers, opting for more durable products, and embracing reusable items like cloth towels in lieu of disposable paper towels all contribute to waste reduction. Moreover, this approach offers not only environmental benefits but also potential cost savings.
The term "waste capture" pertains to the proportion of waste produced that is effectively managed and processed by recycling and waste management systems. This includes all waste materials collected and directed to authorized treatment, recycling, and disposal facilities. It's important to note that waste lost through unauthorized practices like illegal burning, burial, or dumping in unsanctioned areas within a city or country is not factored into the waste capture calculation.
Recycling is the practice of dismantling and reusing materials that would otherwise be discarded. This process not only has positive ecological implications but also contributes to economic well-being. Although recycling practices have been observed throughout history, they have evolved significantly from earlier times when societies repurposed broken tools and pottery due to resource scarcity, a practice that dates back to the era of Plato.