Source reduction is activities designed to reduce the volume, mass, or toxicity of products throughout the life cycle. It includes the design and manufacture, use, and disposal of products with minimum toxic content, minimum volume of material, and/or a longer useful life.
Pollution prevention and toxics use reduction are also called source reduction because they address the use of hazardous substances at the source.
Source reduction is achieved through improvements in design, production, use, reuse, recycling, and through environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP). A Life-cycle assessment is useful to help choose among several alternatives and options.
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission offers guidance for labelling claims: "Source reduction" refers to reducing or lowering the weight, volume or toxicity of a product or package. To avoid being misleading, source reduction claims must qualify the amount of the source reduction and give the basis for any comparison that is made. These principles apply regardless of whether a term like "source reduced" is used.
The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Program (TURA) offers six strategies to achieve source reduction: