How Does Scrap Metal Fit Into The Waste Hierarchy?

The Waste Hierarchy is the title given to a simple ranking system of ways to reduce the environmental impact of waste. Businesses can choose from many different approaches and processes for waste management, but knowing which is the best can be difficult, which is why the hierarchy was created.

What is The Waste Hierarchy?

The official hierarchy was introduced in 2011 as part of several different regulation schemes. The Scottish Environmental protection act 1990, Northern Island waste regulations combined into the Waste regulations 2011 Waste Hierarchy.

Organisations and businesses must follow the hierarchy when considering their waste management schemes. It encourages companies to choose the most environmentally friendly approach and guides them to achieve this.

To enforce this, all waste transfer and consignment notes have a declaration added to them to state if the hierarchy was applied.

rusty pipes

The Waste Hierarchy Explained

As you can see from the image, the waste hierarchy works like an upside-down triangle with the best choice at the top and the worst at the bottom. The idea is that you attempt to find a waste management solution in keeping with the top choice first, in this case, prevention.

If prevention is not possible for technical, financial or logistical grounds, you move down to the next choice. You continue in this fashion until you find a waste management programme that matches one of the steps. You may be required to justify why you are using lower steps, so remember to keep accurate records of your waste management process.


The best way to avoid harmful waste from entering the environment is to prevent it from becoming waste at all, making prevention the preferential option in the waste hierarchy. By taking steps to be leaner when designing, manufacturing, and packaging your products, you can significantly help with waste management further down the line.

This preventative measure is a great way to reduce your waste management needs and save you time and money.


When you have waste, the hierarchy wants you to reuse as much as possible. This can be thought of as an early recycling stage where you can find ways to use items and materials again. By focusing on refurbishment and repair, you can significantly decrease your waste.

More and more single-use products are being replaced with reusable products such as personal water bottles, bags for life and travel coffee cups.


Recycling is the best-known step in the waste hierarchy. It is the most successful part of limiting waste and its harmful effects on the environment. By recycling as much as possible, you essentially turn your trash into a new item or product.

At Morecambe Metals, we have a lot of experience recycling scrap metal to be reused in other means. Our Ferrous metal processing helps contribute to the 40% of recycled steel worldwide and the 75% energy saved from steel production.


Recovery is the best solution when the first three steps are impossible. The idea is ‘waste to energy.’ This is the process of incinerating waste to produce electricity and help reduce our need for fossil fuels. For organic materials, composting is another method of regaining energy from waste.


The worst option and the last resort on the hierarchy is disposal or sending your waste to a landfill. Landfills are now being taxed highly by the UK government to promote more sustainable methods.

scrap metal

Where Does Scrap Metal Fit In?

Each year there is a growing amount of metal in commercial waste, and end of life cars account for 4% of industrial waste. There are strict regulations for disposing of vehicles in an environmentally friendly way.

End of Life Vehicle recycling is a vital process to reduce the environmental impact of waste. For example, the average car contains 65% steel and iron, and 25% can be recycled steel. Morecambe Metals is an official ATF (or authorised treatment facility). We specialise in providing the eco-friendly service of proper car disposal. Our comprehensive car scrapping service takes the discarded vehicle, deregisters it and applies a certificate of destruction before finally removing all the reusable assets from it.

Morecambe Metals does more than just recycle unwanted cars; we pride ourselves on our scrap metal collection services. We offer a service that is dedicated to creating a cleaner future. As a scrap metal buyer, we can take clients scrap metal and recycle it in accordance with steps 2 and 3 of the waste hierarchy.

Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time. The mining of metal ore and the transportation and refining processes create an abundance of greenhouse gases that harm the environment. Recycling scrap metal helps to tackle these destructive processes. Find out more in our article on how scrap metal recycling reduces greenhouse gases.

Professional Scrap Metal Recovery

Morecambe Metals should be your first port of call for your commercial metal recycling waste management. We offer a safe, cost-effective and fast recycling service that will take all the trouble off your hands.

If you would like to discuss your scrap metal recycling needs, don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us on 01524 69191. Our friendly on-site team are eager to discuss your needs and how we can help.