Waste Prevention

“Refuse by itself equals refuse, but refuse plus an educated person equals recyclables.”

  • Each day the average American creates 5-6 pounds of waste
  • For every dollar spent, 10 cents pays for packaging
  • On the average, recycling one ton of glass saves 40 gallons of fuel oil.

The CCCSWA’s recycling program is collecting more recyclable items than ever before. But there is more to do. The State of California mandated that cities/counties reduce landfilled waste by 50% by the year 2000 and beyond. To continue to do this, the CCCSWA is going to need your help!


Recycling is an effective method to manage the waste that is already generated and to save money on disposal costs. However, it is even more important over the long term to reduce waste generated in the first place by purchasing materials with less packaging, not buying unnecessary items, and reusing materials as many times as possible.

Source reduction or waste prevention involves reducing the quantity of waste generated. Waste that is never created does not have to be managed. Waste prevention conserves resources, reduces pollution and waste managements costs. That is why waste prevention is the highest priority in the State of California’s integrated waste management hierarchy.

Click here for other ways that you can reduce, reuse and recycle. These are business practices that may help you at home.

Achieving Waste Prevention

Waste prevention can be achieved by

  • decreasing unnecessary or excessive packaging.
  • developing and using products with greater durability and repairability
  • substituting reusable products for disposable, single use products
  • using fewer resources
  • increasing the recycled materials content of products

Environmental and Economic Benefits of Recycling

Recycling involves producing new commodities out of discarded materials. Some of the environmental and economic benefits realized through recycling are:

Conservation of Natural Resources

Natural resources are hidden treasures of the Earth that have developed during the formation of the Earth or by ecosystems. Water, oxygen, minerals, and plants are examples of natural resources. An enormous quantity of natural resources are used to produce goods we consume, and the use of these resources produce a lot of waste. All of the “garbage” sent to the landfill each day originally came from resources and land filling these items wastes the raw materials and energy that went into making them. Many natural resources are nonrenewable, which means that they are irreplaceable. Nonrenewable resources, such as oil and minerals, are especially precious because the Earth cannot make more of these materials. The extraction of natural resources, by mining and logging, has an environmental impact on habitats from which the resources were taken. Recycling helps conserve our limited natural resources utilized in manufacturing products. Recycling one ton of newspaper, for example, saves 17 trees. Recycling also reduces our dependency on foreign oil and mineral imports.

Energy savings

Manufacturing with recycled materials requires less energy than manufacturing using raw materials. Energy savings amount to 95 percent for aluminum cans, 34 percent for newspaper, and 24 percent for corrugated cartons.

Landfill Capacity

Materials that are recycled do not need to be disposed of in a landfill. This means landfill life is extended and costs associated with waste collection and landfill operations are avoided.

Economic Alternatives

Recycling can be highly cost-effective compared to traditional refuse collection and disposal. Additionally, economic benefits of recycling include the creation of new jobs and economic development opportunities for emerging recycling businesses.

Did you know that one ton of recycled paper uses about 65% less energy, creates 35% less water pollution and contributes 74% less air pollution than virgin paper?

Close the Loop—Buy Products with Recycled Content

Recycling your beverage containers, newspapers and other recyclable products is the first step in the recycling process. But it doesn’t stop there. Consumer demand for products containing recycled content helps to complete the process by ensuring that your recyclabes have a “home.”

So take the next step by shopping for products made with recycled materials. You’ll find they have the same high quality as goods made from virgin materials—sometimes even higher!

How to Buy Recycled

  • Look for labels indicating that the item contains recycled content, preferably post-consumer. (Post consumer means any material that the public has already used and recycled).
  • Choose products made with post consumer material. If they are not carried in your local stores, ask your store manager to begin stocking products made with recycled materials.
  • Shop by mail for items with recycled content if you can’t find these products locally.
  • Write to manufacturers and ask that they begin producing products with recycled content.
  • Encourage others in your office, school, business, and community to buy recycled products.
  • Call 1-800-RECYCLE and ask for the Department of Conservation’s “Market Watch Guide”

Recycled Product Examples

  • cereal boxes
  • newspapers
  • writing paper
  • tissue and towels
  • insulation
  • detergent bottles
  • shopping bags
  • jackets
  • glass containers
  • aluminum cans
  • steel cans

How to Get Rid of Old Appliances, Furniture, and Other Household Goods

Did you know that most household items are either repairable, donate-able, or recyclable? Please donate good condition household items to your favorite local charitable organization, instead of calling the garbage company to come get them. It will save you hauling charges and others will benefit from your unwanted goods.

Or, sell it at a consignment store. There are many types of consignment stores listed in your phone book and in the Contra Costa Reuse & Recycling Guide.

Recycle unwanted or non-working appliances. Below are several options. Some charge a pick up fee while others may require drop-off. Call for details.