Understanding the 3R Concept

Hari Srinivas
Policy Analysis Series E-026. June 2015.


The basic idea of a 3R approach is a shift away from a mass consumption society to one that is based on a life-cycle, sound material flow society.



When we look at the 3R concept within the production cycle, we can see a number of ways in which 'reduce, reuse, recycle' aspects can be incorporated.



So what is 3Rs? Is it just an acronym for better waste management?



But, of course, our current understanding of the concept of 3Rs goes beyond just reduce, reuse and recycle, and takes on a much broader 'umbrella'.



The 3R concept is not new ... but there are a number of recent impetus that brought it to the fore.



The 3R concept is in essence an umbrella that brings together various different environmental and sustainability concepts to enable a coherent and integrated whole.



So what do we do? How can the 3R approach be operationalized? The key idea lies in looking at sustainability from the consumption and production angles. There are six areas of action that will be need to be highlighted.



A number of actions can be taken in order to improve information access for the 3R approach



A number of actions can be taken in order to improve market creation and networking for the 3R approach



A number of actions can be taken in order to improve application and implementation of environmentally sound technologies for the 3R approach



A number of actions can be taken in order to improve policy and strategy development for the 3R approach



A number of actions can be taken in order to improve regional cooperation for the 3R approach



A number of actions can be taken in order to improve sustainability committment for the 3R approach



Examples of 3R initiatives that can be taken in the life cycle of a product or service.



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Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org