Advanced disposal fee (ADF) – A fee charged at the time of purchase. The funds usually go to support recycling and reduction programs.
Aerobic – Able to live and grow in the presence of free oxygen. Aerobic bacterial decomposition results in the conversion of organic wastes to compost.
Aluminum – A light, strong, silver-colored metal made mostly of bauxite ore. One of the most common materials accepted for recycling.
Air Classification – A process in which a stream of air is used to separate mixed material according to the size, density, and aerodynamic drag of the pieces.
Algal Bloom – Population explosion of algae (simple one-celled or many-celled, usually aquatic, plants) in surface waters. Algal blooms are associated with nutrient rich run-off from composting facilities or landfills.
Amber glass – A term used by the glass industry to refer to brown glass.
Anaerobic – Able to live and grow only in the absence of free oxygen; anaerobic decomposition of organic wastes by bacteria results in the production and release of methane gas.
Aseptic packaging – Packaging used to make drink boxes, usually single-serve containers for juice. The boxes are made of aluminum foil, plastic and paper.
Ash – Non-combustible residue resulting from a thermal process, classified as fly ash (light and exits combustion chamber through water vapour stream) or bottom ash (heavy and falls to bottom of combustion chamber).
Ash monofill – A specially constructed landfill to be used only for disposing ash from various types of incineration.
Bale – A large block of recyclables held together with plastic strapping.
Baler – A machine that compacts waste materials, usually into rectangular bales. Balers often are used on newspaper, plastics, and corrugated cardboard.
Biodegradable Material – Waste material which is capable of being broken down by microorganisms into simple, stable compounds such as carbon dioxide and water. Most organic wastes, such as food wastes and paper, are biodegradable.
Bimetal container – A container made out of two metals. The body of the can is typically steel while the lid is aluminum. Examples include fruit, vegetables and soup cans.
Bioconversion – A general term describing the conversion of one form of energy into another by plants or microorganisms. An example is the digestion of solid wastes or sewage sludge by microorganisms to form methane.
Biodegradable – Capable of being broken down by microorganisms into simple, stable compounds such as carbon dioxide and water.
Bottle bill – A law requiring deposits on beverage containers. Proponents of this legislation believe that bottle bills encourage recycling. Opponents believe it is an unfair burden placed on an industry and does not improve recycling rates.
Bottom ash – The ash produced from incineration that must be disposed in a landfill.
Broker – An individual or group of individuals that act as an agent or intermediary between the sellers and buyers of recyclable materials.
Brown goods – Bulky household items that are difficult to recycle. Examples include mattresses and furniture.
Buffer Zone – Neutral area which acts as a protective barrier separating two conflicting forces. An area which acts to minimize the impact of pollutants on the environment or public welfare. For example, a buffer zone is established between a composting facility and neighbouring residents to minimize odour problems.
Bulking Agent – A material used to add volume to another material to make it more porous to air flow. For example, water treatment sludge may act as a bulking agent when mixed with municipal solid waste.
Bulky Waste – Large items of refuse including, but not limited to, appliances, furniture, and auto parts, which cannot be handled by normal solid waste processing, collection and disposal methods.
Buy-back center – A place to sell recyclable materials.
Buy-back programs – Programs that buy recyclables from the public.
Buy recycled – Purchasing products made from or that contain materials with recycled content.
Cardboard – A kind of paper that is thicker, heavier and more rigid than other papers. It is known as paperboard within the paper industry and includes corrugated boxes and boxboard (such as cereal boxes).
Cell – An area in a landfill where solid waste is disposed of each day.
Closed-loop recycling – A system in which materials are continually recycled into the same product. Examples include aluminum cans and glass bottles.
Commercial Waste – Waste material that originates in wholesale business establishments, office buildings, stores, schools, hospitals and government agencies. Also known as retail waste.
Commingled Recyclables – A mixture of several recyclable materials into one container.
Compactor – Power-driven device used to compress materials to a smaller volume.
Compost – The relatively stable decomposed organic material resulting from the composting process. Also referred to as humus.
Composting – The conversion of organic materials to humus by microorganisms. Composting is an effective solid waste management method for reducing the organic portion of waste, including lawn clippings, leaves, kitchen scraps and manure.
Co-composting – Simultaneous composting of two or more diverse wastestreams.
Compost pile – A place, such as an outside pit or bin, set aside for composting waste. Conservation – The planned management of natural resources to prevent loss, destruction or waste.
Construction/Demolition Waste – Waste building materials, packaging, and grubbing waste resulting from construction, remodelling, repair, and demolition operations on houses, commercial and industrial buildings, and other structures and pavements, including, but not limited to: wood, plaster, metals, asphaltic substances, bricks, blocks and concrete, other masonry materials, trees, brush, stumps, and other vegetative materials, but shall not include asbestos waste.
Container Deposit Legislation – Laws that require monetary deposits to be levied on beverage containers. The money is returned to the consumer when the containers are returned to the retailer. Also called “Bottle Bills.”
Corrugated paper – Paper or cardboard manufactured in a series of wrinkles or folds or into alternating ridges and grooves.
Cover material – The soil used to cover solid waste in a landfill.
Cradle-to-grave – A system that manages solid waste from creation to disposal. In product design, it refers to its creation from raw or recycled materials through manufacturing, use, consumption and disposal.
Crumb rubber – Rubber that has been grounded into small pieces.
Cullet – Clean, generally color-sorted crushed glass used to make glass products.
Curbside collection – A recycling program where recyclable materials are collected from homes or places of business by municipal or private parties for transfer to a designated collection site or recycling facility.
Decompose – To break down into component parts or basic elements; decomposition of organic waste materials by bacteria is an essential life process because it makes essential nutrients available for use by plants and animals.
Degradable – Can be decomposed, or broken down, such as yard wastes in a compost pile.
Deinking – A process by which most of the ink, filler and other materials are removed from waste paper before using it to manufacture new paper.
Demolition debris – Waste materials produced during construction or remodelling including items such as lumber, masonry, gypsum wallboard, shingles and insulation.
Detinning – A process by which the thin tin coating is removed and recovered from steel cans.
Dioxins – Heterocyclic hydrocarbons that occur as toxic impurities, especially in herbicides or when trash is burned.
Diversion rate – A measure of the amount of waste being diverted from the municipal solid waste stream, either through recycling or composting.
Drop-off – A method of collecting recyclable or compostable materials where individuals take their recyclables to a designated collection site and deposited into designated containers.
Drop-off Center – The collection site where the individuals deposit their recyclables or compostable materials into designated containers.
Dump – an open, unmanaged, illegal disposal site used instead of a permitted landfill.
Dumpster – A large container to keep waste until it is collected by the trash hauler. Dumpsters often are used by stores, apartment buildings and restaurants.
Earth Day – Held on April 22 each year to promote awareness of environmental issues, the first Earth Day was in 1970.
Ecology – The scientific study of the relations of living things to one another and to their environment.
eCycling (electronics recycling) – The reuse or recycling of end-of-life electronic materials.
End users – A business or manufacturer that takes recyclable materials and converts them into new products.
Energy – The ability or capacity for doing work by body or a system. The measurement of the total heat is a system. Heat can be converted between a number of forms, including light, motion, electricity and warmth.
Energy audit – Examination of a building, original drawing, energy history and usage patterns to identify energy saving opportunities.
Energy Conservation – The practice of extending the useful life of the earth’s energy resources through wise and efficient management.
Energy efficiency – Making energy consuming devices work with less energy.
Energy recovery – Recovering energy from waste. For example, used oil is burned to generate heat that produces electricity.
Enterprise Fund – A fund for a specific purpose that is self-supporting from the revenue it generates.
Environment – All the conditions, circumstances, and influences surrounding and affecting the development or existence of people or other living things.
Enviroshopping – The practice of making purchasing decisions based on the commitment to preserving the environment. Enviroshopping includes buying recycled products, products with a minimum of packaging and products that are not harmful when manufactured and can be recycled.
EPA – The acronym for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is the federal agency of the U.S. government that sets environmental protection and enforcement standards. The EPA was created in 1970 and serves the entire county through its regional offices.
E-waste – Electronic waste such as televisions and computers.
Farm Dump – Refers to the placement of farm waste such as old equipment, household garbage, fence posts and wire, etc. on the farmer’s property in an open pile.
Ferrous Metals – Metals that are derived from iron. They can be removed using large magnets at separation facilities.
Flow Control – A legal or economic means by which waste is directed to particular destinations. For example, an ordinance requiring that certain wastes be sent to a landfill is waste flow control.
Fly ash – Small particles of ash and soot, which are collected by pollution, control devices during the incineration of solid wastes.
Garbage – Another word for solid waste, particularly household waste.
Glassphalt – A highway paving material in which recovered ground glass replaces some of the gravel in asphalt.
Groundwater – Water beneath the earth’s surface that moves between soil particles and rock; supplies wells and springs. In many places, these are used for drinking water.
Hammermill – A type of crusher or shredder used to break up waste materials into smaller pieces.
Hazardous Waste – Waste material that may pose a threat to human health or the environment, the disposal and handling of which is regulated by federal law.
Heavy Metals – Hazardous elements including cadmium, mercury and lead which may be found in the wastestream as part of discarded items such as batteries, lighting fixtures, colorants and inks.
High density polyethylene (HDPE) – A plastic resin commonly used to make milk jogs, detergent containers and base cups for plastic soda bottles. The standard plastic code for HDPE is #2.
Household Hazardous Waste – That waste resulting from products purchased for household use which, because of their characteristics, may pose potential hazards to human health or the environment when improperly treated, disposed or otherwise managed.
Humus – Organic materials resulting from decay of plant or animal matter. Also referred to as compost.
Incineration – The burning of waste.
Incinerator – A furnace for burning garbage or other refuse. A waste-to-energy incinerator burns waste to produce useful energy. Incinerators are federally regulated.
Incinerator Ash – The remnants of solid waste after combustion, including non-combustibles (e.g., metals and soot).
Industrial scrap – Waste generated during manufacturing operations.
Industrial waste – Waste that results from industrial processes, including factories and treatment plants.
Inorganic – Things that are not made from plants and animals and do not contain the element carbon, most inorganic compounds are derived from mineral resources.
Integrated solid waste management – The complementary use of a variety of practices to manage solid waste safely and effectively. Integrated waste management techniques include source reduction, recycling, composting and landfilling.
In Shed – Waste generated from sources within the wasteshed in which the solid waste disposal facility is located.
Institutional Waste – Waste materials originating in schools, hospitals, prisons, research institutions and other public buildings.
Integrated Solid Waste Management – A practice of using several alternative waste management techniques to manage and dispose of specific components of the municipal solid wastestream. Waste management alternatives include source reduction, recycling, composting, energy recovery and landfilling.
In-Vessel Composting – A composting method in which the compost is continuously and mechanically mixed and aerated in a large, contained area.
IPC – Intermediate Processing Center – Usually refers to the type of materials recovery facility (MRF) that processes residentially collected mixed recyclables into new products available for market; often used interchangeably with MRF.
Landfill – A large, outdoor site for the burial of solid waste. Landfilling – The disposal of solid waste at permitted facilities in a series of compacted layers on land with daily covering of the waste with soil. Fill areas are carefully prepared to prevent risk to public health waste per month.
Leachate – Liquid that has percolated through solid waste or another medium and has extracted, dissolved or suspended materials from it, which may include potentially harmful materials. Leachate collection and treatment is of primary concern at municipal waste landfills.
Lead-acid battery – Any battery that consists of lead and sulfuric acid, has a capacity of six volts or more and is used as power source. A car battery is an example of a lead-acid battery.
Litter – Waste thrown away in an inappropriate place; improperly stored waste that has escaped from its container; misplaced solid waste.
Litterbug – A person who litters.
Littering – The act of intentionally or carelessly discarding solid waste in an inappropriate place.
Litter prevention – Activities and programs designed to encourage people not to litter.
Low density polyethylene (LDPE) – A plastic used in shopping bags and garbage bags. The standard plastic code for LDPE is #4.
Magnetic Separation – A system to remove ferrous metals from other materials in a mixed municipal wastestream. Magnets are used to attract the ferrous metals.
Mandate recycling – Programs that by law require certain recycling practices or results.
Manual separation – The sorting of recyclables from other waste by hand.
Market – The area of economics activity in which buyers and sellers come together and where the forces of supply and demand affect prices.
Marine debris – Trash or litter in the water.
Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) – Any solid waste facility at which source-separated materials or materials recovered through a mixed waste processing facility are manually or mechanically shredded or separated for purposes of reuse and recycling. Does not include a composting facility.
Mesophilic temperatures – Those temperatures in the range 10 – 45 0C.
Mesotrophic – A term to describe waters having intermediate levels of the minerals required by green plants.
Mechanical Separation – The separation of waste into various components using mechanical means, such as cyclones, trommels, and screens.
Methane – An odourless, colorless, flammable and explosive gas produced by municipal solid waste undergoing anaerobic decomposition. Methane is emitted from municipal solid waste landfills.
Microorganisms – Microscopically small living organisms that digest decomposable materials through metabolic activity. Microorganisms are active in the composting process.
Mixed paper – Waste paper of various kinds and quality. Examples include stationary, notepads, manila folders, and envelopes.
Mixed waste – Unsorted waste from businesses or homes.
Monofill – A sanitary landfill solely for one type of waste
Mulch – A protective layer around plants to prevent evaporation of moisture and freezing of roots and to nourish the soil. Yard waste that is chipped into small pieces and used in landscaping. It is not decomposed like compost.
Municipal solid waste (MSW) – The combined residential and commercial solid waste generated in an area. MSW includes paper, cans, bottles, food scraps, yard waste and other items. Industrial process waste, agricultural waste, mining waste and sewage sludge are not MSW.
Municipal solid waste landfill – Any landfill, publicly or privately owned that receives household waste. The landfill may also receive other types of solid waste, including commercial waste, non-hazardous sludge and industrial solid waste.
Natural recycling – A process by which organic material decomposes in nature, such as leaves decomposing in a forest.
Natural resources – Valuable, naturally-occurring items such as plants, animals, minerals, water and air that are used by people to help make things such as energy, food, clothing, and buildings.
Negative sorting – Manual sorting of waste to remove the unwanted fractions. Is recommended only for dry waste.
Newsprint – An inexpensive paper made from wood pulp or recycled papers and used primarily for newspapers.
NIMBY – An acronym for ‘Not In My Back Yard’ an expression of opposition for the sitting of a waste facility near or in a community.
Non-biodegradable – Does not degrade or break down in a compost pile.
Non-ferrous metals – Metals such as aluminum, copper or brass that contains no iron.
Non-hazardous – Not considered dangerous.
Non-recyclable – Cannot be recycled.
Non-renewable resources – Natural resources which, because of their scarcity, the length of time required to form them, or their rapid depletion, are considered finite in amount, such as petroleum, coal, natural gas and copper.
Oil – Any of the various kinds of greasy, combustible substances obtained from animal, vegetables and mineral sources. Oils are liquid at ordinary temperatures and can be dissolved in certain organic solvents, but not in water. Petroleum is the most common form of oil.
Open drum – A large open area where trash is illegally thrown. These areas are also called illegal dumps.
Organic – An object containing the element carbon, such as plants and animals. Made from living organisms.
Organic Waste – Waste material containing carbon. The organic fraction of municipal solid waste includes paper, wood, food wastes, plastics and yardwastes.
Out of Shed – Waste generated from sources outside the wasteshed in which the solid waste disposal facility is located.
Packaging – The wrapper, container or plastic film used to protect, identify and advertise a product.
Participation Rate – A measure of the number of people participating in recycling program compared to the total number that could be participating.
Paperboard – Heavyweight grades of paper commonly used for packaging products like cereal boxes. Paperboard is different from corrugated cardboard.
Paper stock – Waste paper that has been sorted into different grades.
Pathogen – An organism capable of causing disease.
Pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) – A program that promotes waste reduction by charging for waste disposal based on the weight or volume of the material. It works on the premise that the more you throw away the more you pay. In addition, the more you recycle the less you throw away and less you pay. Also known as variable rate.
Percolate – To ooze or trickle through a permeable substance. Ground water may percolate into the bottom of an unlined landfill.
Pesticides – Any substance designed to kill living organisms, including insects (insecticides), plants (herbicides), fungi (fungicides), rats and mice (rodenticides) and bacteria (germicides).
Plastic – A material made from hydrocarbons known for its lightweight and durability.
Pollution – Harmful substances deposited in the air, water, or on land, leading to contamination of the environment.
Pollution Control Residuals – End products of the thermal process which includes hot combustion gases composed primarily of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water vapor (flue gas) and non-combustible residue (ash).
Pollution prevention – The reduction of waste and its associated pollution at the source by material substitutions or process modifications that generate less hazardous waste or less waste. Polyethylene – A common plastic used to make plastic bags (LDPE standard plastic code #4) and milk bottles (HDPE standard plastic code #2).
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – A plastic commonly used to make soft drink bottles and other food packaging like ketchup and salad dressing bottles. The standard plastic code for PET is #1.
Polypropylene (PP) – Plastic material that is used to manufacture dairy tubs, lids and straws. The standard plastic code for PP is #5.
Polystyrene (PS) – A lightweight plastic material often used in food services. Polystyrene products include tray, plates, bowls, cups and hinged containers. The standard plastic code for PS is #6.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – Plastic material used to manufacture piping, food and cosmetic containers. The standard plastic code for PVC is #3.
Post-consumer materials – Recovered materials collected from consumer oriented recycling collection system or drop-off center.
Post-Consumer Recycling – The reuse of materials generated from residential and commercial waste, excluding recycling of material from industrial processes that have not reached the consumer, such as glass broken in the manufacturing process.
Post-industrial – Scrap material generated as a result of an industrial manufacturer process.
Pre-consumer materials – Recovered materials obtained from manufacturers, such as cutting scraps from printers. Waste generated before the product reaches the consumer.
Pre-cycle – To reduce waste at the source by changing buying habits.
Primary materials – Virgin or new materials, such as wood pulp and iron ore, used in making products.
Pulp – A soft, moist, sticky mass of fibbers made up of wood, straw, etc., and used to make paper and paperboard.
Putrescible – Organic matter partially decomposed by microorganisms and producing a foul smell.
Recyclable – Products or materials that can be collected, separated and processed to be used as raw materials in the manufacture of new products.
Recycle or Recycling – The process by which recovered products are transformed into new products, and includes the collection, separation, recovery and sale or reuse of metals, glass, paper, tires, lead-acid batteries and other materials.
Recycled content – The amount of a product’s weight or package’s weight that is composed of materials that have been recovered from waste. Recycled content may include pre-consumer and post-consumer materials.
Recycling Center – Drop-off sites that accept recyclables. Some sites also accept household garbage providing a one-stop services.
Reduce – To lessen in amount. Reducing trash is a major solid waste management goal.
Residential Waste – Waste materials generated in single and multiple-family homes.
Residue – Materials remaining after processing, incineration, composting or recycling have been completed. Residues are usually disposed of in landfills.
Refurbish – Repair and make useful.
Refuse – A general term for solid waste materials, also called garbage or trash.
Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) – Fuel derived from the incineration of municipal solid waste.
Renewable – Energy resources that can be replenished, such as sunlight, water, geothermal heat and biomass.
Renewable resource – A natural resource derived from an endless or cyclical source (e.g., sun, wind, trees, fish); with proper management and wise use, replacement of these resources by natural or human-assisted systems can be approximately equal to their consumption.
Re-refining – To refine again. Used oil that is reprocessed into new oil products is considered re-refined.
Resource recovery – The burning of solid waste to produce energy. The processing of solid waste to make refuse-derived fuel. The extraction and use of materials or energy from the waste stream. The taking of usable materials out of solid waste, usually through high-technology processes.
Retention Basin – An area designed to retain run-off and prevent erosion and pollution.
Reuse – The use of a product more than once for any purpose. Examples include using a butter tub as an alternate food container or reusing a coffee can to hold nuts and bolts.
Roll-off Container – A large waste container that fits onto a tractor trailer that can be dropped off and picked up hydraulically
Sanitary landfill – See municipal solid waste landfill.
Scrap – Waste with some value, particularly material left over from construction or manufacturing suitable for reprocessing.
Secondary Material – A material that is used in place of a primary or raw material in manufacturing a product.
Sludge – Any solid, semi-solid, residue, or precipitate separated from or created by a municipal, commercial, or industrial waste treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility; or any other such waste having similar origin
Soil Liner – Landfill liner composed of compacted soil used for the containment of leachate
Solid waste – Trash and garbage. It also includes solid liquid, semi-solid or contained gaseous material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining and agricultural operations and community activities.
Solid waste management – The handling, processing and disposal of all solid waste.
Solid waste stream – Anything that we throw away.
Source reduction – Another term for waste reduction. Behaviour that deliberately reduces waste through educated consumer choices and disposal.
Source separation – Separating recyclable materials at the source, such as at home or office.
Special Waste – Refers to items that require special or separate handling, such as household hazardous wastes, bulky wastes, tires and used oil.
Sustainability – The practice of not taking from the earth those things that cannot be replaced.
Sustainability development – The ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. An environmental protection strategy designed to protect the earth’s resources.
Throwaway life style – A phrase describing modern life with many disposable products and short-lived goods.
Tin can – A steel can with a thin, tin coating. Also known as bimetal can.
Tipping Fee – A fee, usually euro per ton, for the unloading or dumping of waste at a landfill, transfer station, recycling center or waste-to-energy facility; also called a disposal or service fee.
Tipping Floor – Unloading area for vehicles that are delivering municipal solid waste to a transfer station or municipal waste combustion facility
Tons per day (TPD) – Used as a measurement of the solid waste disposal rate at a landfill, incinerator or materials recovery facility.
Transfer Station – A combination of structures, machinery, or devices at a place, or facility where solid waste is taken from collection vehicles and placed in other transportation units (such as a “walking floor,” or other method of transfer for movement to another solid waste management facility. Provided, when the initial generator of solid waste disposes of said waste into a container such as a roll-off, green-box or bin which is temporarily positioned (not more than five days) at a specific location for transport by a transportation unit, such container is not considered a transfer station. Under any circumstances, leachate, litter and windblown materials must be properly managed.
Trash – Material considered worthless, unnecessary or offensive that is usually thrown away. Generally defined as dry waste material it is a synonym for garbage, rubbish, or refuse.
Tub Grinder – Machine to grind or chip wood wastes for mulching, composting or size reduction.
UBC – An acronym for used beverage container, usually plastic soda bottles and aluminum cans.
Used motor oil – Motor oil that has been used in an engine and is considered to be waste. This oil can be recycled.
Variable Container Rate – A charge for solid waste services based on the volume of waste generated measured by the number of containers set out for collection.
Variable rate – See pay-as-you-throw.
Vermicomposting – The production of compost using worms to digest organic waste.
Vinyl (V) – A common type of plastic used to make shampoo bottles and other containers. The standard plastic code is #3.
Virgin materials – Any basic material for industrial processes that has not been used. Another term for raw materials. Examples include timber or metal ore.
Volume Reduction – The processing of waste materials so as to decrease the amount of space the materials occupy, usually by compacting or shredding (mechanical), incineration (thermal) or composting (biological).
Waste – Anything that is discarded or not considered useful.
Waste assessment – The review of processes to identify options that will result in either the generation of less waste or the productive recycling of materials that would otherwise be added to the waste stream.
Waste audit – An inventory of the amount and type of solid waste that is produced at a specific location.
Waste exchange – A program that helps companies offer some of their hazardous waste by-product to other companies that may be able to use these wastes in their business.
Waste minimization – The reduction of the amount of waste generated by pollution prevention methods or recycling of by-product that would otherwise be added to the waste stream.
Waste reduction – an important waste management strategy that encourages people to generate less trash through practices such as reuse, recycling and buying products with less packaging.
Wasteshed – Geographically organized areas for the purpose of managing solid waste.
Wastestream – A term describing the total flow of solid waste from homes, businesses, institutions and manufacturing plants that must be recycled, burned or disposed of in landfills; or any segment thereof, such as the “residential wastestream” or the “recyclable wastestream.”
Waste-to-energy plants – Facilities that burn solid waste, gases or chemicals to produce energy.
White goods – Appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, water heaters, washing machines, dryers and air conditioners.
Windrow – A large, elongated pile of composting material.
Worm castings – Worm manure.
Yardwaste – Leaves, grass clippings, prunings and other natural organic matter discarded from yards and gardens. Yardwastes may also include stumps and brush, but these materials are not normally handled at co