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The Four R’s

Just a few words about the Waste Reduction Hierarchy which will explain the philosophy of waste reduction and clarify some terms you will find in the KUTE Sorting Guide.

The Four R’s are:

  • Rethink
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

The order of these waste reduction strategies goes from the lowest use of resources, including energy, to the highest. Reduction is better for the environment than recycling, while all of them are better than sending materials to the landfill.


What is garbage? We like to think of garbage as resources that no longer have any use, resources that are used up. If we consume resources in a manner that creates great quantities of garbage, we deplete the earth’s natural resources faster than the earth can replenish them. It’s time to think about what you throw in the garbage can. Could I have purchased this product in less packaging? Does this product come in a reusable package? Or even – Did I need to bring this object into my home? Could I rent or borrow a ___ instead of buying it? Once you become aware of the variety and quantity of garbage generated in your home and at work, you can begin to make small changes that will result in less garbage going to the curb.


This waste reduction strategy is also known as waste avoidance. Decisions you make that won’t allow materials to come into your home or workplace is considered reduction. Examples of this would be to rent, borrow, or share any number of different articles.


This strategy involves using an article or material again either in the same manner as its first use or in a different way. Examples include repair, refinish, and refurbish.


Recycling involves the sorting, baling, shipping and then processing of materials into other materials. Due to an unstable or not mature market in some materials and the high cost of transporting to processing plants in the Lower Mainland, KUTE can recycle a limited number of materials.

Other Terms


Avoid waste before it gets into your home.

Closing the loop

Buy products with recycled content, which closes the recycling loop.

Guides, Brochures and Information

Our paper sorting guide is available here (MS Word)

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