Waste minimization refers to strategies that are aiming to prevent waste through upstream interventions. On the production side, these strategies are focusing on optimizing resource and energy use and lowering toxicity levels during manufacture. Strategies that are considered to minimize waste and thus improve resource efficiency in or even before the manufacturing process are, for example, product design, cleaner production, reuse of scrap material, improved quality control, waste exchanges, etc. On the consumption side, waste minimization strategies aim to strengthen awareness and prompt environmentally conscious consumption patterns and consumer responsibility to reduce the overall levels of waste generation.
While it is important to support the environmentally sound disposal of wastes, the end-of-pipe approach is not sufficient to ensure a holistic strategy on waste management. Waste minimization is an important cross-cutting area of the GPWM, because it complements the work that will be undertaken by other working groups that are more focused on downstream solutions on waste management.
The waste minimization focal area of work aims to strengthen awareness, share information on the practices for waste minimization, provide guidelines and training materials, build capacity at national and local level, and draft strategies to promote waste minimization in pilot cities and countries.
The focal area on waste minimization is led by UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics - Responsible Industry and Value Chain Unit (DTIE RIVU).