1st Edition

Rethinking the Concept of Waste and Mass Consumption Preserving Resources through Reuse, Repair and Recycling

By Richard Waite Copyright 2025
    256 Pages 33 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    256 Pages 33 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book presents hard facts, drawn from extensive research, to highlight our unsustainable consumption of the Earth’s resources and the limitations of the UK’s current management of waste and recycling.

    Setting out a bleak picture of a world in which we are literally consuming our planet, the book explores the psychological, economic and capitalist drivers behind this behaviour. Controversially, the book examines the drawbacks of the current approach adopted by many local authorities on the kerbside collection of recyclable materials, as well as the UK governments’ strategic approaches to household recycling, including the lack of UK-wide infrastructures for packaging re-use, and for product repair and recycling. It challenges the whole concept of waste, leading to a proposed new strategy for the management of household waste, including a simplified household collection system, the introduction of an incineration tax and the banning of all household waste exports. The author proposes reconceptualising waste as unwanted but valuable material and argues that the responsibility for facilitating re-use, repair and recycling, rests with manufacturers who must start designing with the end in mind.

    Given the current economic climate, and a dampening of the green agenda within UK politics, the book provides a much-needed call for critical discourse on how, and how much, we consume and sets out clear, practical solutions for change. The book will be of interest to manufacturers, retailers, consumers, local authorities, policy makers, students and professionals looking to reduce our impact on the environment.


    Chapter 1: Consuming the Earth’s resources

    Chapter 2: What we throw away

    Chapter 3: Key definitions and concepts

    Chapter 4: How our Household Waste is collected

    Chapter 5: How our Household Waste is treated

    Chapter 6: Linear vs. circular consumption

    Chapter 7: Consumerism and economic growth

    Chapter 8: Let’s talk about packaging

    Chapter 9: A focus on plastics

    Chapter 10: What we need to do differently

    Chapter 11: What we could achieve if we changed

    Chapter 12: A proposed way forward

    Annex I: How individual materials are re-processed

    Annex II: Tips to help you to help the planet


    Richard Waite studied and practised as a chartered engineer, before setting up one of the UK’s first household recycling schemes in the late 1980s. Subsequently, as a management consultant, he advised many councils and the Government on household waste management and recycling, and in 1995 wrote the first book on household waste recycling. He was the specialist advisor to the House of Commons Environment Select Committee during their 1993/94 inquiry into recycling. He then became the Managing Director of several very successful UK businesses but maintained his interest in recycling. Drawing on his own experience setting up and running one of the UK’s first companies recycling Household Waste, plus extensive research and analysis, he has written this book to draw attention to the crisis we face and to present a comprehensive blueprint for how we should in future manage our use of the Earth’s limited resources.