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Precycling is the practice of reducing waste by attempting to avoid bringing items which will generate waste into home or business.

The original three-pronged push for trash management is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle." Precycling emphasizes "reducing and reusing", while harnessing and questioning the momentum and popularity of the term "recycle."

Traditionally recycling requires large amounts of energy to "melt down" and then re-manufacture items. While this may cut down on the amount of trash that is going into landfills, it is not sustainable unless the underlying energy supply is sustainable. In addition, recycling often means downcycling and always involves at least some loss of the original material, so primary extraction is still required to make up the difference. Precycling reduces these problems by using less material in the first place, so less has to be recycled.

Precycling includes such practices as the following: (1) buying consumables in bulk to reduce packaging; this helps reduce overall waste strongly due to 40% of waste being the result of packaging material;[1] (2) Buying consumables in recyclable over non-recyclable packaging; (3) avoiding junk mail, and using electronic media for reading materials, especially throwaway items such as magazines or newspapers; (4) and a more large-scale effort to precycle is to repair old appliances rather than purchasing new ones.[2] It can also include the practice of using an item or material for another purpose prior to use for its original purpose, thus avoiding using some other material or object. For example a bowl of fruit and nuts on a holiday table as decoration prior to eating it precludes buying or using something else.

Not only can the average consumer practice precycling, but industries can also participate. Purchasing from parts suppliers, reuse of chemicals, and reduction of unnecessary packaging are some methods.[3]

One way to participate in precycling is to carry a "precycling kit". Include a Tupperware or non-disposable container, silverware set, a cloth napkin or handkerchief, and a thermos or water-bottle within a cloth bag that can double as a grocery/shopping bag.


  1. ^ "Waste Management". Environmental Encyclopedia Vol. 2. 4th ed. Gale Virtual Reference Library. 
  2. ^ "Waste Management". Environmental Encyclopedia Vol. 2. 4th ed. Gale Virtual Reference Library. 
  3. ^ "Precycling". Environmental Encyclopedia. Gale Virtual Reference Library.