Gina Noe

Gina Noe Extension Agent

Source reduction is decreasing the amount of materials or energy used during the manufacturing or distribution of products and packages. Because it stops waste before it starts, source reduction is the top solid waste priority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Source reduction is not the same as recycling. Recycling is collecting already used materials and making them into another product. Recycling begins at the end of a product's life, while source reduction first takes place when the product and its packaging are being designed.

The best way to think about source reduction and recycling is as complementary activities. Combined, source reduction and recycling have a significant impact on preventing solid waste and saving resources. And they're activities in which both the cleaning products industry and consumers play a major role.

Source reduction conserves raw material and energy resources. Smaller packages and concentrated products typically use fewer materials and less energy to manufacture and transport.

Source reduction reduces releases to air, land and water. For example, it takes less fuel to transport lighter weight materials.

Source reduction cuts back on what has to be thrown away. That helps keep solid waste disposal costs down, which is good for municipal budgets and consumers.

Source-reduced cleaning products take up less space in the home, and are more efficient and easier to use.

You can reduce waste when purchasing cleaning products by:

• Buying a concentrated product. Many cleaning products have been reformulated to use less product to do the same job.

• Buying the largest size container you can use efficiently. You'll usually save money — and may use less packaging in the long run. 

• Buying refill systems whenever possible. 

• Buying packages made with recycled materials.


You can also reduce waste when using cleaning products by:

• Using the right product for the job.

• Following manufacturer's directions for how much to use. Different products (even in the same category) require different amounts, so read the label to avoid waste. 

• Reusing the primary containers in refill systems as many times as possible. Be sure to use only the refill product that's intended for that container 

• Using the product up. If you can't, give it away. Often a local community group will accept extra cleaning products. Be sure the label is intact so the next user has the information needed to use the product safely and effectively.


(Source:  American Cleaning Institute)

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