Source reduction

Source reduction is activities designed to reduce the volume, mass, or toxicity of products throughout the life cycle. It includes the design and manufacture, use, and disposal of products with minimum toxic content, minimum volume of material, and/or a longer useful life.

An example of source reduction is use of a Reusable shopping bag at the grocery store; although it uses more material than a single-use disposable bag, the material per use is less.


Pollution Prevention (or P2) and Toxics use reduction are also called source reduction because they address the use of hazardous substances at the source.


Source Reduction is achieved through improvements in design, production, use, reuse, recycling, and through Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP). A Life-cycle assessment is useful to help choose among several alternatives and options.[1][2]

Source reduction in the United States

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission offers guidance for labelling claims: "Source reduction" refers to reducing or lowering the weight, volume or toxicity of a product or package. To avoid being misleading, source reduction claims must qualify the amount of the source reduction and give the basis for any comparison that is made. These principles apply regardless of whether a term like "source reduced" is used.

The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Program (TURA) offers 6 strategies to achieve source reduction:

  1. Toxic chemical substitution
  2. Production process modification
  3. Finished product reformulation
  4. Production modernization
  5. Improvements in operations and maintenance
  6. In-process recycling of production material


  1. Zabaniotou, A; Kassidi (August 2003). "Life cycle assessment applied to egg packaging made from polystyrene and recycled paper". Journal of Cleaner Production. 11 (5): 549–559. doi:10.1016/S0959-6526(02)00076-8.
  2. Franklin (April 2004). "Life Cycle Inventory of Packaging Options for Shipment of Retail Mail-Order Soft Goods" (PDF). Retrieved December 15, 2008.

See also

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