Do you know your R’s from your Elbow..?


I suspect many of you looked at the title and thought “Yes I do!”.

It is probably slightly given away by the title picture.

If you are new to 4R philosophy then you fill find it to be a powerful analytical tool for a cleaner production assessment.

For more seasoned practitioners I am sure that the benefits of this philosophy are already known.

The mantra behind 4R’s is ‘reduce, reuse, recycle and recover’.   So how does this actually look in practice ?

1. REDUCE:  Wherever possible, resource consumption and waste reduction is the preferred option for your operation.

We would consider this a ‘Preventative Upstream’ action, the savings in time, raw materials energy and waste treatment in this scenario are significant. It is often the case that with small changes – large savings can be made.

2. REUSE:  If waste is produced, every effort should be made to reuse it where practical.

3. RECYCLE:  For waste which cannot be reduced or reused, recycling is the third option requiring additional energy to reprocess the waste into a usable product.

4. RECOVER:  It may be possible to to recover materials or energy from waste which cannot be reduced, reused or recycled.

These last three actions reuse, recycle, recover are consider Corrective actions and operate DownStream they usually involve some capital investment and the benefits of these areas can take longer to be seen especially financially when there has been investment in capital equipment etc.

So if you are thinking about implementing the 4R’s, we at Textile Consult would suggest that ‘REDUCE’ is your best option to start.

Before commencing on your ‘green’ journey, I would urge you to consider a  5th R (or maybe redefine the 4th ‘R’).  Whichever you wish to do with the redefined R, it is worth utilising ‘RETHINKING’.   By this we mean that you maybe reconsider the process and look at how to optimise it.  By optimising the process you can further REDUCE the potential impact on the environment.

By following these simple 4 (or 5!) R’s, best practice can be applied to any industrial process areas either as a segment or as an industry as a whole. Why not have a look at your own business, consider the R’s and start by RETHINKING – you wont regret it and your clients and the environment will like you more for doing it.


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