Protecting Oregon's Environment
Oregon State Seal
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

Land Quality 

Solid Waste

Prevention and Reuse
Recovery and Compost
Oregon's Recycling Laws
Conferences, Training & Workshops

Waste Prevention and Reuse

Since the late 1980s, recycling and composting have captivated the public’s attention as a solution to environmental problems associated with solid waste. But the State of Oregon and many other organizations recognize that there’s an even higher priority than recycling and composting: waste prevention. In fact, Oregon law defines waste prevention as the number one priority method for managing solid waste in Oregon.

Waste prevention is an upstream activity that involves reducing waste through changes in the design, purchase, and use of materials. In its simplest form, waste prevention means using less stuff. Waste prevention has the potential for large environmental benefits because it typically reduces environmental impacts over all stages of the life cycle of materials: resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation and end-of-life management (such as recycling or disposal). For households and businesses alike, waste prevention can also typically save much more money than recycling or composting.

“Waste prevention” is sometimes associated with reuse because they both reduce waste generation. Waste prevention is very different from recycling. Recycling is a process for redirecting discards away from disposal and back into the flow of commerce, where they are transformed and used as feedstocks to make new products. In contrast, waste prevention is about not making waste in the first place – through changing what we use and how we use it.

Current Waste Prevention Programs

These are current initiatives and services for local government, industry, and households:

Other information resources

To learn more about waste prevention, including evaluation reports of recent DEQ waste prevention projects:

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For more information about DEQ's Land Quality programs, visit the DEQ contact page.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a regulatory agency authorized to protect Oregon's environment by
the State of Oregon and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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