The Waste Hierarchy

The word ‘waste’ is used to describe any substance, that is no longer useful.
The Waste Hierarchy recognises that the most effective way to manage waste is to avoid producing it wherever possible, and the least effective way is to place it in landfill. Between these two levels are a range of options including reuse, recycle, energy recovery and containment, in that order of preference.


Avoiding waste is the preferable option. This means, thinking about whether you need an item before you purchase it.

Click here for information on avoiding waste


Using items more than once and finding ways to give them a second life is very important. This could include refilling water bottles or washing and reusing a coffee cup.  

Click here for information on reusing materials


Recycling turns waste materials into new materials and items. For example, an aluminium can, can be melted and remoulded into a new aluminium can. Recycling takes a lot of energy, so it is best to avoid waste and reuse materials rather than recycle.  

Click here for information on recycling

Energy Recovery

Energy Recovery is capturing the energy that’s released when materials are broken down. This can be gas or heat, which can then be used to generate electricity.


This is the long-term management of hazardous materials such as radioactive material.   


Landfilling waste is the last resort mainly because landfills are expensive to build and operate, and they can leak toxins into the air and water. When items are sent to landfill, all the embedded energy, minerals and materials are lost.

Circular Economy

The Circular Economy describes the process of keeping materials going around and around in the system for as long as possible through reuse and recycling. It recognises that what one person sees as waste, another person can use as a resource.

Recycling Victoria represents the Victorian Government’s action plan to reform our waste and recycling system over the next decade. Victoria’s transition to a circular economy will be guided by four goals spanning the life cycle of materials (make, use, recycle and manage). Each goal is designed to maximise value and minimise waste. For further information, click here.

Zero Waste Map

We know it can be hard to find ways to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill. To help you participate in the circular economy, we have developed the Zero Waste Map. On the map, you’ll find opportunities to Recycle, Repair, Donate goods, Borrow Share & Hire, Shop for low waste goods and services, Connect with Community and Learn low waste skills. You can add low waste organisation by following the link on the map (or click here) or email [email protected]