Have you heard of the words “waste hierarchy” mentioned in relation to waste and recycling? The waste hierarchy is a system that ranks different types of waste from most to least environmentally friendly. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you understand it a bit better.
What is the Waste Hierarchy?

The Waste Hierarchy is a list of the best ways to manage and dispose of waste. The most sustainable and environmentally friendly methods are at the top of the list, and the least green methods are at the bottom.

It is often depicted as an up-side down triangle with the best methods at the top. The triangle is made up of 5 sections; from best to worst; prevention, re-use, recycling, other recovery and disposal.

In 2011, businesses and public bodies were required by law to follow the Waste Hierarchy when disposing of waste.

Prevention of Waste

We can help the environment by not creating waste in the first place. Though we must be realistic, as this is not always possible. By raising awareness within your teams and addressing the issue of waste as a business, it can help you introduce better processes and methods to reduce the waste your company produces. At Greenzone, we’ve over 15 years’ experience helping customers reduce their general waste production and save money in the process.

Preparing for Re-use or Refurbishment

This is considering all alternatives for the waste materials before sending them for recycling. Check, can you; repair or refurbish the item/s. Can you upcycle them for an alternative use? Would new parts make it useable again? We work with The Coggin Group as one of our preferred suppliers in Preston, to breathe new life into old office furniture, they like us work on a national level.


Once you have decided the item cannot be reused or repurposed then it’s time to recycle the item. You might be a little fazed by this process, especially if it’s new to you, or perhaps you have several different products or components and are unsure what is and isn’t recyclable.

A waste disposal company can help you with all aspects of your garbage, and a good waste management company will always follow the Waste Hierarchy. For example, recycling empty plastic bottles will result in the production of alternative textiles, as well as plastic garden furniture.

Other Recovery

Even if an item can’t be recycled, there may be other ways to extract value from it. For example, energy can be made from food waste and other non-recyclable items. However, the process of making energy from these items releases harmful gases into the atmosphere, which is why this option is low on the hierarchy


Once all the above steps have been looked at, disposal via landfill or incineration are the only other options left. Both have negative impacts on our environment, which is why as a business we’ve looked at ways to offset carbon emissions that are otherwise unavoidable. Click here to view our carbon offsetting activities.

The Benefits of using the Waste Hierarchy

As mentioned, using the waste hierarchy has been a legal requirement since 2011. Businesses are required to acknowledge this on their waste transfer notes.

“I confirm that I have fulfilled my duty to apply the waste hierarchy as required by regulation 12 of the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011.”

Increased Recycling

This is beneficial for the environment, but many our clients have been able to save on their outgoing costs by increasing their recycling through us. As part of our services, we offer a free waste audit to all of our customers, click here to book and see how we can help you maximise your recycling.

Diverting Waste from Landfill

As a responsible waste broker, we know how harmful landfill sites can be on people and the environment, which is why we work with suppliers that advocate a “zero waste to landfill” wherever possible. We see waste as a resource first.

Improved Business Efficiencies and Cost Savings

Managing waste can be expensive, with many associated fees for removal. However, by identifying what waste is produced using the hierarchy, our clients often realize how much waste is needlessly being created. This often leads to better procurement practices, improved business processing, and an eco-friendlier business