What is the Zero Waste 5R Rule?

It is the image that represents the waste problem caused by the industrialization of agricultural societies and the mass production of packaged and processed products with automation systems. The world in the palm of the image is surrounded by greenery.

With the transition from the agricultural (agrarian) society to the industrial society, people have confronted with the problem of waste. While living centers in agricultural societies were gathered around a small area; large cities and industrial areas started to be established in industrial societies. Agricultural societies used what they took from nature and gave that back to nature. Their wastes were natural wastes that have dissolved easily in nature. The formation of the industrial society and the mass production of packaged and processed products with automation systems have caused an unavoidable waste problem.

The wastes of the modern society, which are formed in production and consumption, can be stacked in large areas or burned in special facilities and be released into the atmosphere.

What Does the Zero Waste 5R Rule Mean?

The zero waste 5R rule consists of some rules set forth to ensure waste management and to curb the damage of waste to the environment. The carbon footprints can be reduced by adopting a zero waste lifestyle and the 5R rule. The zero waste 5R rule has become popular in America following the enactment of the “Resource Conservation and Recovery Act”. Initially, it has emerged as the 3R rule and the NGOs have started to raise public awareness on the 3R rule. In 2013, Bea Johnson has for the first time mentioned the 5R rule in her book. The zero waste 5R rule recommends the continuation and adoption of easy practices and includes the following principles:





·Rot or Re-Plant

In our country, the 5R rule is known as the zero waste 5D model. The 5D Model, in general, bears the same principles. The principles of the 5D model can be listed as follows:

·Think, Don’t Consume If Not Necessary (Düşün, Gerekli Değilse Tüketme)

·Consume Less (Daha Az Tüket)

·Peruse (repair), Reuse (Değerlendir, Yeniden Kullan)

·Change, Use For A Different Purpose (Değiştir, Farklı Amaçla Kullan)

·Recycle (transform), Let the Nature Win (Dönüştür, Doğa Kazansın)

Think, Don't Consume If Not Necessary (Refuse)

Reducing the amount of waste caused by disposable consumption and living without producing waste requires exerting of effort. Refusal of all kinds of activities that will produce waste and not consuming it if it is not necessary (reducing consumption) are the main principles of the zero waste lifestyle. Reviewing of shopping habits and not buying of products that are not needed can avoid the waste of natural resources. Choosing of more environmentally friendly and recyclable products while shopping is recommended.

Instead of disposable plastic products, alternatives that comply with the zero waste principle and which can be reused for a long time can be preferred. Consuming of unpackaged products from local producers whenever possible can reduce the amount of waste. Using local products can also contribute to the economy of the country.

Consume Less (Reduce)

Shopping less and not consuming unnecessary items can help to reduce waste. It is essential for sustainable consumption that the same product is not taken more than the need. Deciding on what is needed and not making random purchases, and only shopping for the needs, can significantly reduce waste generation. Items that have previously been bought and not used can be usefully utilized by handing out (letting go) or transforming them. Items that are not used and not needed can be sold through websites. With simple maintenance and cleaning processes, the lifespan of the items can be extended.

Peruse (Repair), Reuse

In the zero waste lifestyle, sending less garbage to landfills is the primary responsibility of the consumers. Purchasing items made from reusable materials can help to reduce waste and damage to the environment. Instead of products such as plastic cutlery, plates and bottles, the use of glass or stainless steel products can be preferred. Choosing reusable products is an indispensable principle for conscious consumption.

Most of the carrier bags used while shopping are made from non-biodegradable materials. Reuse of the plastic bags is beneficial in many ways. Shopping bags made of cloth or string shopping bags can be used while carrying the products. At home, glass alternatives can be used over and over again instead of the plastic storage containers. The purchased products can be reused in different ways after completing their intended use. By making minor repairs to the clothes owned, we can continue to use them.

Rot, Re-Plant

Rot (Composting) is simply the name given to the natural decay and composting of organic materials. Within the scope of zero waste, organic materials can be used in a beneficial manner to nature by composting. Compost can be a supportive agent for the growth of plants grown in a garden house or balcony. Composting may be the easiest and most efficient way to make use of kitchen waste. In this manner, organic substances can return to nature again. The vast majority of household waste consists of organic materials. The organic materials, if not recycled for different purposes, accumulate in landfills or are burned, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. By applying a few simple procedures, greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate problems may be reduced.


The mostly used rule of the 5D model is recycling. Recycling is the ultimate stage in a zero waste lifestyle. In the 5D model, if other rules are applied; there may not be much waste left at this stage. In a zero waste lifestyle, recycling may be preferred where it cannot be refused, reduced and reused. The fact that every waste not being recyclable or parsable enough to be recycled may cause harm to nature. By use of recycling, it can be ensured that the wastes are included in the production again. Wastes and materials used in remanufacturing can help to save energy and resource use.

Is the Zero Waste 5R Rule Applicable?

Although a zero waste lifestyle is based on very simple rules, it may require caution and persistence due to social consumption habits. Careful selection of products to be purchased and not buying products that are not needed can reduce waste generation. Handing out, letting go or selling items that are not needed may seem difficult at first. By adopting zero waste as a lifestyle; carbon emission and the problems it creates can be prevented. With an environmentalist approach, the importance of sustainable consumption can be explained to those around. Awareness is the most important step to take. The damage given to the environment by generating waste affects not only today but also the future generations. Reducing the impacts of waste on the environment can prevent many living species from being affected of the problems created by thereof.

What is Zero Waste Certificate, How can it be obtained?

Zero waste certificate is given in our country by the laws regulated. Applications made for certification are followed by the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change through the Zero Waste Information System. The amount of fee to be paid when obtaining, renewing and raising the level of the zero waste certificate is determined every year by the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change.

The zero waste certificate has a validity of five years. The zero waste project is supported and monitored by the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change. Institutions and organizations responsible for obtaining a certificate can apply for renewal, within the three months before the expiry date of the current certificate.

In case the zero waste certificate application is found appropriate, information shall be supplied. Within thirty days, on-site inspection shall be carried out by the zero waste commission. During the inspection, a presentation on the studies carried out should be made to the members of the commission. In case any deficiencies, missing documents are detected in the application made to obtain a zero waste certificate, the provincial directorate shall notify the related organization of the existing deficiencies. Deficiencies are required to be completed within thirty days.

Who Should Get a Zero Waste Certificate? Is It Obligatory to Obtain a Zero Waste Certificate?

Zero waste certificates are issued at four different levels: basic, silver, gold and platinum. Buildings, campuses and local administrations that have to establish a zero waste management system are initially given a zero waste certificate at the basic level. The zero waste certificate can be obtained by the buildings, campuses and the local administrations that establish a waste management system within the scope of Zero Waste Project of the Ministry of Environment and would like to certify it. Within the scope of Zero Waste Regulation, Provincial Directorates of Environment and Urbanization are authorized to issue certificates. The establishments that are required to register to the Ministry of Environment System and obtain a basic level certificate can be listed as follows:

•       Organized industrial zones

•       Airports

•       Ports

•       Business centers with 100 or more offices and commercial plazas 

•       Shopping malls established on an area of 5000 sqm and above

•       Industrialists with Industrial Registry Certificate

•       Educational institutions and dormitories with 250 or more students

•       Accommodation facilities with 100 or more rooms

•       Health institutions with 100 beds or more

•       Fuel stations and resting facilities (way stations/choltries)

•       Sites with 300 or more residences

•    Chain markets

In Conclusion

Conscious and sustainable consumption is a process that aims to prevent waste generation before the product is consumed. Zero waste lifestyle is an application that incorporates rules that must be followed in order to protect the natural resources and minimize the damage to the environment. Zero waste 5R rules guide institutions and consumers on waste management. In the zero waste approach, the institutions and organizations as well as the consumers are to shoulder responsibility. With the zero waste management systems to be applied in production facilities, less natural resource utilization can be maintained and damage to the environment can be prevented.