Working in Reuse I have heard Rethinking Waste - The 5 R's Mantra:
To recycle any product takes energy. These recyclable products are seen as a commodity in the market place. Maybe #5 plastics don't have a high demand right now; it could sit for a long time, maybe months, maybe years depending on supply & demand. So to recycle things that are not compostable should thus be the last choice.
The reason for using a two terms that by generalizing could be categorized the same is to stimulate thought, after all this is about rethinking waste. To Reuse something is to use it over and over for the purpose it was intended. Like a glass jar. Once it can no longer be Reused then it is time to get creative and Repurpose it.
To repurpose is to use a tool for use as another tool, usually for a purpose unintended by the original tool-maker. My example of this would my the wallet which is actually a second generation repurposed item. I can't claim the creativity but it was a person out of Boulder, CO "English Retreads" that thought of repurposing the worn-out inner-tubes that were beyond repair from a rafting company that rented them to go down the river on. The rafting business had repurposed them from tractors that could no longer use them because they would become deformed after time.
To repurpose can create business, jobs, and income. UC-Davis has a Repurpose store adjacent to their University store which sells ladies handbags made out of the heavy duty high end plastic shopping bags one may find in Sax Fifth Ave., etc. (they are making money doing so!). There are magazines, websites (instructables & many more) and even fair's (the Maker's Fair) that are dedicated to repurposing what otherwise would be trash or recycling. By getting creative and thinking a bit out of the box you are cutting down on waste and you are saving energy not hauling it away to the recycling center, dump or incinerator. This is the idea behind adding Repurpose in addition to Reuse.
I don't feel to reduce needs any explanation or examples but let me know if so.
Refuse is at the very top, to get the consumer to think about what they are buying. I can't stand those hard-plastic "clamshell" designed packages that are impossible to open without a Ginsu and then can not Reuse the odd thing and they are not recyclable. To stimulate thought of refusing to purchase any of the single-use plastics. Water bottles, even if they are recyclable, the lids are not. Refuse plastic-ware and plastic straws because they are not recyclable; there are biodegradable alternatives. If you've ever volunteered at a beach cleanup (if not check out surfriders) you know how many straws are out in the ocean. Refuse these items before you get to reducing other plastics. Refuse the junk mail before it wastes the couriers time money, fossil fuels, etc. A very easy refuse junk mail packet exists and can be found at stopwaste.org
A blog further stating the logic of two more R's