Reduce, reuse, and recycle forms part of the 'waste hierarchy'.

This has helped people to think about the environmental impact they have.

Waste hierarchy

Reduce, reuse, recycle, recovery, disposal


Reduce is at the top of the waste hierarchy and is the most sustainable option. It is about asking yourself ‘do I need this?’, and when the answer is no, reducing your consumption. If we reduce our consumption, then less will need to be produced. And so less energy and resources will be used, producing less emissions.

Ways you could reduce include:

Smart shopping tips include:

  • try to avoid excess packing where possible. Buy loose fruit and veg, and look for concentrated products which have far less packaging
  • avoid buying more food than you need. You can get lots of advice of how to avoid food waste and save money on the Love Food Hate Waste website or the Food Savvy website
  • keep a close eye on the 'use by' dates in your fridge and plan to use up your food before it goes off
  • buy local goods to reduce shipping and packaging
  • buy items that have a longer life span or shelf life
  • think about whether buying cheap will mean buying twice
  • avoid 'buy one get one free' offers for perishable items that might not get eaten
  • do not forget your reusable bags when you go shopping
  • refill your reusable water bottle

Use your freezer wisely

You should freeze the following:

  • suitable items like bread and raw meats to use another time
  • leftovers from meals where you can.

Globally, up to 40% of food is wasted, either during the harvest and transportation period, or by shops and consumers. When this wasted food goes to landfill it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

You can save up to £425 a year by sensible shopping, cooking more carefully and storing items to maximise their shelf life.

Find out more on the Love Food Hate Waste website.

Find out how to stop junk mail and minimise the waste coming through your front door. All the options outlined are free to set up.

Register with Royal Mail's door-to-door opt out

Door-to-door is the Royal Mail's direct marketing service that delivers unaddressed mail. You can register to opt out of receiving junk mail from Royal Mail.

It will not stop mail that is addressed to 'the occupier' or information from central and local government and other public bodies.

Register with the Mail Preference Service

Registering with the Mail Preference Service can help to reduce the amount of personally addressed direct mailings that you receive.

It will not stop mail that has been sent from overseas, mail addressed to 'the occupier', unaddressed mail or mail from companies with whom you have done business in the past.


Make a smart swap and use reusable bags for your recycling rather than single use plastic clear sacks.

You can get reusable bags from your local community hub or library, or order online to be delivered to your door.

Before deciding to recycle or dispose of unwanted items, look to see if they can be donated to a local charity. Charities can either sell items to raise funds for their work, or give the items to those who need them.

Read more about donating to charity.

Or, if you do not feel that you’re in the position to be giving things away but also do not need an item, consider selling it on.

Composting is an environmentally friendly and fun way of turning kitchen and garden waste into something that can make your plants grow.

Medway Council is part of a national scheme to provide low price compost bins directly to your door. Use your Medway postcode to buy one get one half price on compost bins and water butts from Get Composting.

Here are some top tips for composting:

  • leave it in a well-drained spot and sunny spot (so water can drain)
  • fill gradually
  • mix and turn the compost every week or so (so that it airs well)

More people are recycling in Medway, and caddy liners are one of the ways you can recycle food waste. Find out where to pick up caddy liners.

If you have clothes, sheets, blankets and other household textiles such as towels, tea towels and curtains that are in good condition you could:

  • pass them on to a family member or friend
  • offer the clothing on a local recycling group such as Facebook groups, Freecycle or Freegle
  • sell items on a local website, listings magazine, newspaper or local Facebook 'For Sale' group * give them to a charity shop or to a jumble sale
  • put them in a textile collection bin. These can be found around Medway. Find your nearest textile collection bin.

Animal charities may accept blankets to use as pet bedding. Check with any charity before donating.

We could reuse a lot of items if we know how to repair them. If you want to learn how to repair some of your possessions, why not sign up for a Medway Adult Education course? They run courses on how to sew and to repair your old clothes.

A lot of clothing and other textiles are disposed of just because of popped seams and lost buttons. The Love Your Clothes website is a brilliant resource on how to care for your clothes, including how to clean them, remove stains, repair and alter clothing.


Unsure of what to recycle, visit our handy A to Z guide for all you need to know.

If you still have questions, why not reach out to us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook

You can also help someone locally by recycling your unwanted medical equipment. Find out more about how to return medical equipment.

What happens to your waste and recycling in Medway

Ever wondered where your rubbish goes after it leaves your house?

Find out through our Waste and Recycling End Destination Reports. These tell you all the companies used, where all the types of waste collected ended up and how it was treated.

For example, these figures provide a visual summary of all Medway’s collected waste by processing method from April 2020 to March 2021:

Recycling end destinations 2020 to 2021: 0.5% biomass, 19.3% composting, 53.6% energy recovery, 1.7% landfill, 12.3% MRF recycling, 1.8% road sweepings, 10.7% other recycling

Proportion of Medway waste by processing method 2020 to 2021

Plastic Free Medway

In January 2019 Medway Council committed to becoming a single-use plastic free council. Plastic pollution has devastating effects on the environment and hinders our ability to address the climate crisis.

Towards Plastic Free Medway are a community group tackling single-use plastic pollution in Medway. They encourage local businesses and organisations to switch from single-use plastics to reusable and sustainable alternatives.

Find out what we are doing and how you can help.

More on waste and recycling in Medway

For more information on waste and recycling in Medway, such as bin collection days and reporting a missed waste collection, visit the waste and recycling page.