Applying the waste hierarchy: guidance

Guidance on applying a waste hierarchy under Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.




Closed-loop recycling

Where a product is used, discarded, captured, and then the component materials are recycled into a new product of similar functionality which is then itself used, discarded and captured, to be recycled again, continuously cycling the material resource though the supply chain.

Co-mingled waste

Co-mingled collections are where some, or all, of the key dry recyclables are collected together in the same container and later sorted at a Materials Recycling Facility.

Environmental indicators

A series of parameters applied to each waste management option to judge the total environmental impact associated with management of waste materials and for subsequently comparing the relative benefits associated with each option. In the case of the development of the waste hierarchy guidance, four indicators were chosen: climate change (measured by comparative CO 2eq savings); air quality (measured by a combination of ozone creation, acidification, human and aquatic toxicity); water quality (measured by aquatic pollution including substances known to contribute to eutrophication of controlled waters); and resource depletion (measured by a - typically - qualitative assessment of the decreasing availability of natural resources).

Open-loop recycling

Where material is recycled in an open loop process the product is not the same as the material recycled (e.g. glass container to glass fibre insulation or to aggregate). The material is made into a substantially different product with different properties. The product is often non-recyclable or has degraded recycling capabilities.

Source segregated

Each distinct waste stream (including the key dry recyclables and food/garden waste) collected in separate containers or compartments within a vehicle.

Mixed municipal waste

The waste left after source segregation measures have been implemented - this is sometimes referred to as ‘black bag’, ‘general’ or ‘non-recyclable’ waste.

Waste hierarchy

The priority order available for managing wastes, ranked in descending order of preference, based on the best environmental outcome across the lifecycle of the material.


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