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What is the waste hierarchy and how does it work

The waste hierarchy is a concept that determines the type and priority of treatment that a waste should receive. In other words, it indicates an order of preference of actions in order to reduce and manage waste. It is often identified with a pyramid, as it schematically reflects the priority of waste-related treatments or actions.

Its aim is basically to protect the environment, so States must create and adopt measures to comply with and promote the different treatments according to this hierarchy.

EN residuos

What the waste hierarchy is for

The waste hierarchy aims to maximise the product’s utility to waste ratio, so that the product’s utility is maximised and waste is minimised.

The correct application of the waste hierarchy therefore brings environmental benefits, such as reduced levels of pollution and better management of natural resources; and economic benefits for businesses and the community.

Waste hierarchy levels

Prevention

It is based on the idea that the best waste is waste that is not produced. It is at the top of the pyramid and constitutes the set of measures taken at the stages of conception, design, production, distribution and consumption of a product in order to avoid producing more waste than necessary. In this way, adverse impacts on the environment are avoided, as well as excessive consumption of energy and raw materials.

However, it is practically impossible to avoid 100% waste production. Moreover, with today’s technology, it would be very costly, which in the end, would be counterproductive and more harmful to the environment than maintaining a certain level of waste.

Preparing for reuse

If unavoidable, reuse of this product should be the priority. This is the testing, cleaning or repair of products or product components that have become waste because they have reached the end of their useful life. The aim is that these products can be reused, without the need for major transformations to be carried out.

Recycling

If the object or product cannot be reused and given a second life, recycling should be chosen. Recycling involves the recovery of waste, in such a way that it is transformed into new materials, products or substances in order to give them a new use and reintroduce them into the market.

Recovery

This level of the pyramid includes other types of recovery such as energy recovery or the transformation of waste into materials that can be used as fuels. In this case, it is not the materials that are used, but the energy contained in them.

Disposal

This is the last option, and the aim is to minimise it. It includes thermal, biological and physico-chemical treatments and techniques to eliminate the waste.

How ScrapAd participates in the waste hierarchy

ScrapAd was created precisely to provide an alternative for waste that may at first appear to have no value and therefore ends up in landfill. Thanks to our platform for buying and selling waste and the visibility we give to the materials, other interested companies can get hold of this material, recover it and return it to the market as raw material for other products. That is why we encourage and support the circular economy as a new business model, which gives a second life to what already exists in order to care for and respect our environment.

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