• Production (clean technologies through closed loops—a goal of zero waste, primary materials recycling).

  • Use (long-life goods, product-life extension, and more intensive use of goods and systems).

  • Postuse (secondary recycling of "clean," or sorted, materials, and refurbished components and parts).

Closed loops are one common denominator of waste reduction in these three radically different areas. The other common denominator is the need for management decisions to implement waste prevention. Waste prevention does not happen by accident!

There are two kinds of loops that differ fundamentally with regard to their feasibility: (1) reuse of goods, and (2) recycling of materials (see Figure 1 and Table 1).

The reuse of goods means an extension of the utilization period of goods, through the design of long-life goods; the introduction of service loops to extend an existing product's life, including reuse of the product itself, repair, reconditioning, and technical upgrading; and a combination of these (Figure 2). The result of the reuse of goods is a slowdown of the flow of materials from production to recycling (or disposal). Product-life extension means waste prevention not only through increased use but also in production, distribution (including packaging), and recycling/disposal, as well as a reduction of the environmental impairment caused by the transport necessary for these activities. Reusing goods and product-life extension imply a different relationship with time.

The recycling of materials means simply closing the loop between postuse waste (supply) and production (resource demand). Recycling does not influence the speed of the flow of materials or goods through the economy.

It can be shown that there are fundamental differences in the economic feasi-

FIGURE 1

The reuse loop and the recycle loop. Loop 1: Waste prevention, long-life products, and product-life extension. Loop 2: Waste reduction and recycling of materials.

SOURCE: Stahel and Reday (1976/1980).



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