Source reduction means waste prevention. It is the reduction of the amount of toxicity of the waste by changing the design and use of original materials and products.
Source reduction is the best way to minimize the impact of solid waste on the environment as it minimizes the waste generation. Source reduction encompass on using less packaging, designing durable products and also re-using the products and materials. Specific ways to achieve source reduction include using light-weight packaging materials, purchasing durable material, using large size which use less packaging per unit. Refillable containers are also used and selection of toxic-free products.
Source reduction has many environmental benefits. Conservation of resources, environmental protection and prevention of greenhouse-gas formation are the most popular benefits.
Light-weighting: Light-weighting is one method to achieve source reduction, which means using thinner gauge of packaging materials. According to a report, average weight of glass container reduced by 50% from 1992 to 2002. Similarly, aluminium cans were lighter in 2005 than in 1975.Weight of aluminium foil laminates has also been reduced. The amount of tin has also been reduced.
Plastic containers have reduced in weight also. The weight of 2 liter cold drink bottles has decreased by 25% since 1977, which results in a saving of more than 206 million pounds of plastic packaging each year.
Reusable and refillable containers:
Another method to achieve source reduction is to reuse the packaging. For example,glass bottles can be reused after washing with powerful detergent. Plastic re-fillable containers are also in use. Manufacturers are achieving source reduction by offering refill products, especially the non-food items.
Recycling:Recycling makes the material from waste stream to material recovery. Recycling involves reprocessing material into new products. EPA is promoting the purchase of products made by recycled materials. Almost all packaging materials are recyclable.