Waste Terminology

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW):refers to wastes such as durable goods, nondurable goods, containers and packaging, food scraps, yard trimmings, and miscellaneous inorganic wastes from residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial sources, such as appliances, automobile tires, old newspapers, clothing, disposable tableware, office and classroom paper, wood pallets, and cafeteria wastes. Excludes solid wastes from other sources, such as construction and demolition debris, autobodies, municipal sludges, combustion ash, and industrial process wastes that might also be disposed of in municipal waste landfills or incinerators. (U.S. EPA, 1996b)

 

Nonferrous Metals:refers to nonmagnetic metals such as aluminum, lead, and copper. Products made from nonferrous metals include containers and packaging such as beverage cans, food and other nonfood cans; nonferrous metals found in appliances, furniture, electronic equipment; and nonpackaging aluminum products (foil, closures, and lids from bimetal cans). Excludes lead-acid batteries and nonferrous metals from industrial applications and construction and demolition debris. (U.S. EPA, 1996b)

 

Nonhazardous Industrial Process Waste: refers to waste that is neither municipal solid waste nor considered a hazardous waste under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, such as certain types of manufacturing wastes and wastewaters. (U.S. EPA, 1996a)

 

Agricultural Waste: refers to solid waste that is generated by the rearing of animals or the production and harvest of crops or trees. (Sullivan, 1993)

 

Commercial Waste:refers to waste generated by businesses, such as office buildings; retail and wholesale establishments; and restaurants. Examples include old corrugated containers, food scraps, office papers, disposable tableware, paper napkins, and yard trimmings. (U.S. EPA, 1996b)

 

Commingled Recyclables:refers to a mixture of several recyclable materials in one container. (U.S. EPA, 1989)

 

Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris: refers to waste that is generated during the construction, remodeling, repair, or demolition of buildings, bridges, pavements, and other structures. C&D debris includes concrete, asphalt, lumber, steel girders, steel rods, wiring, dry wall, carpets, window glass, metal and plastic piping, tree stumps, soil, and other miscellaneous items related to the activities listed above. This category also includes natural disaster debris. (U.S. EPA, 1989, 1994d)

 

Contaminated Soil:refers to the introduction of micro-organisms, chemicals, toxic substances, wastes, or wastewater into soil in concentrations that make the soil unfit for its intended use. (U.S. EPA, 1994d)

 

Disposal Facilities:refers to repositories for solid waste including landfills and combustors intended for permanent containment or destruction of waste materials. Excludes transfer stations and composting facilities. (U.S. EPA, 1991b and National Recycling Coalition, 1995)

 

End User1:refers to facilities that purchase or secure recovered materials for the purpose of recycling. Examples include recycling plants and composting facilities. Excludes waste disposal facilities.

 

Ferrous Metals:refers to magnetic metals derived from iron (steel). (U.S. EPA, 1995d) Products made from ferrous metals include major and small appliances, furniture, and containers and packaging (steel drums and barrels). Examples of recycling include processing tin/steel cans, strapping, and ferrous metals from appliances into new products. (U.S. EPA, 1995d)

 

Food Processing Waste1: refers to food residues produced during agricultural and industrial operations.

 

Food Scraps1:refers to uneaten food and food preparation wastes from residences and commercial establishments (grocery stores, restaurants, and produce stands), institutional sources (school cafeterias), and industrial sources (employee lunchrooms). Excludes food processing waste from agricultural and industrial operations. Examples of recycling include composting and using food scraps to feed pigs, but excludes source reduction activities such as backyard (onsite) composting and use of food items for human consumption (food banks).

 

Generators1: refers to producers of municipal solid waste such as residences, institutions, commercial businesses, and industry.

 

Glass Containers:refers to containers and packaging such as beer and soft drink bottles, wine and liquor bottles, and bottles and jars for food, cosmetics, and other products. For the purpose of recycling, container glass is generally separated into color categories (clear, green, and amber or brown). Examples of recycling include processing glass into new containers, construction materials (aggregate), or fiberglass (insulation). (U.S. EPA, 1995d)

 

Hauler: refers to a waste collection company that provides complete refuse removal services. Many will also collect recyclables. Includes both private and public entities. Also see Collector. (U.S. EPA, 1994d)

 

Industrial Process Waste:refers to residues produced during manufacturing operations. (Sullivan, 1993)

Industrial Sludge:refers to the semiliquid residue remaining from the treatment of industrial water and wastewater. (U.S. EPA, 1989)

 

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW): refers to hazardous products that are used and disposed of by residential-rather than industrial-consumers. These products include some paints, stains, varnishes, solvents, and pesticides, and other materials or products containing volatile chemicals that catch fire, react, explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic. HHW is derived from municipal solid waste (MSW) with the exception of used oil which is excluded from the category of MSW. Examples of recycling include processing HHW components into new products after they have been diverted from the waste stream. Diversion from the waste stream only does not constitute recycling (i.e., through collection or drop-off programs). (U.S. EPA, 1992, 1993b)

 

Industrial Waste:refers to nonhazardous wastes discarded at industrial sites from packaging and administrative sources. Examples include corrugated boxes, plastic film, wood pallets, lunchroom wastes, and office paper. Excludes industrial process wastes from manufacturing operations. (U.S. EPA, 1996b)

 

Institutional Waste:refers to waste generated at institutions, such as schools, libraries, hospitals, and prisons. Examples include cafeteria and restroom trashcan wastes, office papers, classroom wastes, and yard trimmings. (U.S. EPA, 1996b)

 

Medical Waste:refers to any solid waste generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals, excluding hazardous waste identified or listed under 40 CFR Part 261 or any household waste as defined in 40 CFR Subsection 261.4 (b)(1). (U.S. EPA, 1994d)

 

Mixed Municipal Solid Waste1: refers to municipal solid waste that is not sorted into specific categories (plastics, glass, and yard trimmings).

 

Oil and Gas Waste:refers to gas and oil drilling muds, oil production brines, and other wastes associated with the exploration, development, or production of crude oil or natural gas. (U.S. EPA, 1995a)

 

Other Ferrous Metals: refers to ferrous metals from strapping, furniture, and metal found in tires and consumer electronics. Excludes the large quantities of metals found in construction materials or transportation products, such as automobiles, locomotives, and ships. (U.S. EPA, 1996b

 

Other Nonferrous Metals:refers to nonferrous metals (lead, copper, and zinc) from appliances, consumer electronics, and nonpackaging aluminum products (foil, closures, and aluminum lids from bimetal cans). Excludes nonferrous metals from industrial applications and construction and demolition debris. (U.S. EPA, 1996b)

 

Other Solid Waste:refers to nonhazardous solid wastes, other than municipal solid waste, covered under Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, such as municipal sludge, industrial nonhazardous waste, construction and demolition waste, agricultural waste, oil and gas waste, and mining waste. (U.S. EPA, 1996b)

Other Wood:refers to wood from furniture, cabinets from consumer electronics, and other nonpackaging wood products. Excludes wood recovered from construction and demolition activities (lumber and tree stumps) and industrial process waste (shavings and sawdust). Examples of recycling include processing wood into mulch, compost additive, or animal bedding. (U.S. EPA, 1996b)

 

Processors1: refers to intermediate operators that handle recyclable materials from collectors and generators for the purpose of preparing materials for recycling (material recovery facilities, scrap metal yards, paper dealers, and glass beneficiation plants). Processors act as intermediaries between collectors and end users of recovered materials.

 

Recyclables: refers to those materials recovered from the solid waste stream and transported to a processor or end user for recycling. (National Recycling Coalition, 1995)

 

Recycling: refers to the series of activities by which discarded materials are collected, sorted, processed, and converted into raw materials and used in the production of new products. Excludes the use of these materials as a fuel substitute or for energy production. (National Recycling Coalition, 1995)

 

Recycling Plant1:refers to a facility where recovered materials are remanufactured into new products.

 

Residential Waste:refers to waste generated by single- and multi-family homes including old newspapers, clothing, disposable tableware, food packaging, cans and bottles, food scraps, and yard trimmings. Excludes food scraps and yard trimmings that are diverted to backyard (onsite) composting. (U.S. EPA, 1996b)

 

Scrap Metal Processor1: refers to an intermediate operating facility where recovered metal is sorted, cleaned of contaminants, and prepared for final recycling. Examples include scrap metal yards and scrap metal dealers.

 

Textiles: refers to fibers from discarded apparel, furniture, linens (sheets and towels), and carpets. Examples of recycling include converting apparel and linens into wiper rags and processing textiles into new products (linen paper or carpet padding). (U.S. EPA, 1996b)

 

Tire Processor1: refers to an intermediate operating facility where recovered tires are processed in preparation for recycling.

 

Tires: refers to passenger car and light- and heavy-duty truck tires. Excludes high-speed industrial tires (from airplanes), bus tires, motorcycle tires, and special service tires, such as military, agricultural, off-road, and slowspeed industrial tires (from construction vehicles). Examples of recycling include processing car and truck tires into new rubber products (trash cans, storage containers, and rubberized asphalt), and the use of whole tires for playground and reef construction. (U.S. EPA, 1994b)

 

Transfer Station:refers to a facility where solid waste is transferred from collection vehicles to larger trucks or rail cars for longer distance transport. (U.S. Congress, 1989)

 

Tree Stumps:refers to the portion of a tree remaining after it has been cut. Tree stumps are categorized as yard trimmings when found in municipal solid waste. Otherwise, tree stumps are generally found in, and categorized as, construction and demolition debris. (Mish et al., 1988)

 

Used Oil1:refers to spent motor oil from passenger cars and trucks that is collected at specified locations for recycling. Used oil is excluded from the category of municipal solid waste.

 

Waste Characterization Studies: refers to the identification and measurement (by weight or volume) of specific categories of municipal solid waste materials (glass, plastic, and metals) for the purpose of projecting landfill capacity, determining best management practices and developing cost-effective recycling programs. (U.S. EPA, 1996b)

 

Waste Generation:refers to the amount (weight or volume) of materials and products that enter the waste stream before recycling, composting, landfilling, or combustion takes place. (U.S. EPA 1996b)

 

Waste Stream:refers to the total flow of solid waste from homes, businesses, institutions, and manufacturing plants that must be recycled, incinerated, or disposed of in landfills; or any segment thereof, such as the "residential waste stream" or the "recyclable waste stream." (U.S. EPA, 1989)

 

Waste-To-Energy Facility/Combustor:refers to a facility where recovered municipal solid waste is converted into a usable form of energy, usually through combustion. (U.S. EPA, 1995b)

 

White Goods:refers to major appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, air conditioners, and washing machines. Also see Major Appliances and Bulky Waste. (U.S. EPA, 1989)

 

Wood Packaging: refers to wood products such as pallets, crates, and barrels. Excludes wood from furniture and other nonpackaging wood products. Examples of recycling include processing wood into new products (mulch and compost). (U.S. EPA, 1996b)

 

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