What is a waste hierarchy?

Waste hierarchy refers to the system where priorities are set for ranking the waste management methods. In this way, the procedures that avoid waste generation are ranked after seeing their benefits to the environment. Anyways, the best way will always be waste prevention. In the waste hierarchy, waste prevention always takes the higher priority. It focuses on reuse and recycling. Waste hierarchy has specific objectives like indulging in waste avoidance activities and encouraging everybody for the same.

This hierarchy highly supports resource recovery and disposal management. As per the Guidelines of the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011, waste management, resource recovery, and the waste hierarchy legally applies to every business that generates disposal.

Here are the stages in the waste hierarchy and their explanation.

  1. Prevention
  2. Re-use
  3. Recycling
  4. Recovery
  5. Disposal

As said before, prevention of waste generation ranks higher as it has more benefits to the environment.

Avoiding waste generation

This method of avoiding the disposal generation is something that needs encouragement. It has have been given the highest priority because the people can live better lives in a better environment. The organisations and the businesses that generate waste materials should be encouraged to use methods that can stop waste production. We can together control waste generation by minimising unnecessary consumption.


Waste hierarchy prioritises reusing as it is the most sustainable way of reducing waste. For example, we can reuse mobile phones by refurbishing and repairing them. We can use the refurbished IT assets and a variety of other items. We can plan to use the current material over and over again.


What seems friendly to the environment? The answer is recycling, the perfect solution to protect the environment and waste disposal. Today we can recycle everything from paper to plastic water bottles, milk cartons, etc. Some waste materials have harmful impacts and cannot be used again, and are also not feasible for the recycling process. Such products should be treated to stabilise their hazardous effects.


Resource recovery refers to implementing the three famous Rs of waste management that are mostly overlooked. It means reprocessing and reusing things. It is impossible to avoid waste, so we can start using the things again in their current state. Recycling reduces the unnecessary consumption of energy.


Disposal has been given the least priority as it is the least sustainable option. The UK government tries to promote more sustainable ways to protect the environment, and that’s why landfilling is taxable. Landfilling and incineration is a process of treating waste. In incineration, waste materials are burnt completely and landfilling is the oldest method of disposing of the waste at a site.

IT asset disposal should also abide by the waste hierarchy to avoid the harmful environmental effect. Organisations can contribute by giving away computers and other assets to the third-parties for recycling purposes. Efficient IT disposal helps in tackling the rising-waste crisis. That is why companies must use the standard way of disposing of the assets.

For more information on the waste hierarchy model please visit the UK’s Government website.