Disadvantages and advantages of waste prevention

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All businesses produce waste, from dirty water and empty packaging in an office environment to chemical and even hazardous waste produced by a major industrial manufacturer. Governments and consumer groups are keen to see less waste go to landfill, where it can result in the production of the greenhouse gas methane. There are other methods of waste disposal, but waste prevention is by far the most economical and environmentally sound alternative.

Saves money -- disposal

Disposing of waste products and materials costs money, even if it's just dealing with dirty water or waste paper. You pay for collection and transport of waste substances and, in many cases, you pay for them to be disposed of in landfill. Hazardous or toxic wastes require careful handling. As a result, these are particularly expensive to dispose of.

Saves money -- purchasing

If you have a lot of waste products, you are not only spending money in disposing of the waste, but you lose the money that you spent purchasing the products in the first place. You pay twice for any materials that you waste.

Saves energy -- recycling

Recycling is usually regarded as the best way to dispose of waste as it conserves natural resources. However, the recycling process itself can be energy-intensive, both in terms of transporting waste to the recycling plant and in washing and reprocessing the waste. Preventing or reducing waste in the first place minimises the amount of energy lost during recycling.


One of the potential disadvantages of promoting waste prevention, especially if incentives are offered, is that it might discourage the use of beneficial disposable products. In the healthcare sector, for example, disposable linens such as hospital gowns and sheets are hygienic and save time. They can also be disposed of in an environmentally sound way. However, if a strategy of waste prevention is enforced, healthcare organisations might return to laundering cotton items, which would also increase costs.

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