28 May, 2024
Written By: Josh Morris

Waste Management Glossary 

 Green book titled

Just like business jargon, the waste world can be full of terms and words that don't sound real! We aren't talking Helicopter Thinking & Blue Sky Vision.

We are talking Autoclaving, Cullet and Rear End Loaders (It isn't what you are thinking). 

Within the waste industry, a lot of terminology is banded around and navigating this can be tricky. 

Well, don't worry, just like our waste service...we have you covered.

Whether you're a newcomer seeking to grasp the fundamentals or a seasoned professional looking to expand your knowledge, this blog is your ultimate guide to understanding the wild terrain of waste...from A-Z!

Glossary of Waste Management Terms 


Agricultural Waste - Waste produced as a result of various agricultural operations.

Air Classification - A process that separates waste particles by size or weight using a stream of air.

Anaerobic Digestion - A waste treatment process that breaks down organic matter without oxygen to produce biogas.

Asbestos - A hazardous material that can cause health issues when inhaled, often found in older buildings.

Aseptic Packaging - Packaging that has been sterilized to maintain the sterility of its contents.

Autoclaving - A process using high-pressure steam to sterilize waste materials, especially medical waste.


Bale - Compressed and bound waste material for transport or recycling, such as paper or cardboard.

Bin Rental - Service providing temporary waste containers for use at residential, commercial, or construction sites.

Bioconversion - The conversion of organic materials into usable forms, such as energy or compost, by biological processes.

Biodegradable - Materials that can be broken down naturally by microorganisms.

Biomass - Organic material from plants and animals that can be used as a renewable energy source.

Brown Goods - Discarded electrical appliances like TVs and radios.

Bulky Waste  - Large items of waste material, such as furniture and appliances, that cannot be collected regularly.

Business Waste - Waste that is produced by businesses as opposed to households.


Carbon Footprint - The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities.

Chemical Waste - Waste that contains harmful chemicals, often produced by industries or laboratories.

Clinical Waste - Waste that poses a risk of infection, such as swabs, needles, and other hospital-generated waste.

Closed Loop Recycling - A recycling process where materials are recycled back into the same product.

Commingled Waste - Waste consisting of multiple recyclable materials mixed together.

Commercial Waste - Waste generated by businesses and commercial activities.

Commodities - Recyclable materials that have been sorted and can be sold as products to manufacturers.

Compactor - Equipment that compresses waste to reduce its volume.

Confidential Waste - Information-sensitive materials that need to be destroyed to prevent data breach.

Construction and Demolition Waste - Waste generated from construction, renovation, and demolition activities.

Contamination - Presence of substances that make materials or environments unclean or unsafe.

Cullet - Broken glass ready to be melted down and recycled.


Decomposition  - The process by which organic substances are broken down into simpler organic matter.

Deposit Return Scheme - A system where consumers are refunded for returning used containers for recycling.

Disposable - Items designed for single use before being discarded.

Diversion Rate - The percentage of waste materials diverted from traditional disposal such as landfilling.

Drums - Large cylindrical containers for storing and transporting various materials, including waste.

Dry Mixed Recycling (DMR) - A collection of recyclable materials that are dry and free from contaminants.

Duty of Care - A legal requirement to handle waste responsibly and within the law.


Energy from Waste (EfW) - The process of generating energy in the form of electricity and/or heat from the primary treatment of waste.

Environment Agency - A regulatory body responsible for protecting and enhancing the environment in certain regions.

European Waste Catalogue (EWC) - A standardised list classifying types of waste used in Europe.

E-Waste - Discarded electrical or electronic devices or their parts, also known as electronic waste.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) - A policy approach where producers are given a significant responsibility for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products.


Ferrous Metal - Metals that contain iron and are magnetic, commonly recycled in the waste stream.

Fines - Small particles of waste or secondary materials, or monetary penalties for waste management violations.

Flaring - The burning of waste gases in a flare stack at a waste treatment facility or industrial plant.

Fluorescent Tube - A type of light bulb that uses fluorescence to produce visible light and contains hazardous materials.

Fly-Tipping - Illegal dumping of waste onto land not licensed for waste disposal.

Food Waste - Waste consisting of uneaten foods and food preparation leftovers from residences and commercial establishments.

Front End Loader - A type of heavy equipment with a front-mounted square wide bucket connected to the end of two booms.


Garden Waste - Organic waste from gardens such as grass clippings, plants, leaves, and twigs.

Gasification - A process that converts organic or fossil-based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide.

General Waste - Non-recyclable waste that is typically disposed of in landfills.

Green Energy - Energy produced from natural, renewable sources that have a low environmental impact.


Hardcore    A term for the rubble used to create the base layer for construction projects.

Hazardous Waste - Waste that poses substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment.

HGV - Heavy Goods Vehicle used for transporting large loads, including waste materials.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) - A type of plastic commonly used in packaging and labelled as recyclable #2.

Hopper - A large funnel used for pouring materials into a machine or container.

Household Recycling Centre - A facility where the public can take waste and recyclable materials from their homes.

Household Waste - Waste generated from households as opposed to commercial or industrial sources.


Incineration - The combustion of waste material in a controlled environment to reduce its volume and produce energy.

Industrial Waste - Waste generated from industrial or manufacturing processes.

Inert Waste - Waste that does not undergo any significant physical, chemical, or biological transformations.

Integrated Waste Management - A comprehensive waste handling strategy that includes reduction, collection, composting, recycling, and disposal.

In-Vessel Composting - A composting method that occurs within an enclosed container.


Kerbside Collection - Collection of household waste and recycling that is placed at the kerb for pickup.


Landfill - A site designated for disposal of waste materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment.

Landfill Tax - A tax imposed on the disposal of waste to landfill designed to encourage waste reduction and recycling.

Leachate - Liquid that drains or 'leaches' from a landfill and can be a pollutant.

Life Cycle Assessment - A technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's life.

Lift Rate - The fee charged for lifting a container and transporting its contents to a waste disposal facility.

LOLER (Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations) - Safety regulations in the UK governing lifting equipment in the workplace.


Material Recycling Facility - A specialised plant that receives, separates, and prepares recyclable materials for marketing to end-user manufacturers.

Mechanical Biological Treatment - A type of waste processing that combines mechanical and biological techniques.

Medical Waste - Waste generated at health care facilities, such as clinics, hospitals, and laboratories.

Mixed Municipal Waste - Waste collected from households, including various types of materials.

Mixed Waste - Waste materials that have not been separated into different types (e.g., recyclables, organics).

Municipal Solid Waste - Any garbage, refuse, or sludge from a waste treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility.


Non-Ferrous Metal - Metals that do not contain iron and are not magnetic, such as aluminium and copper.


Open Windrow Composting - A process where organic waste is piled in long rows (windrows) and aerated by turning.

Organic Waste - Waste material that is biodegradable and comes from either a plant or an animal.


Packaging Waste Recovery Note (PRN's) - Evidence notes that prove waste packaging material has been recycled into a new product.

Pay-As-You-Throw - A waste collection policy where users are charged based on the amount of waste they dispose of.

Persistent Organic Pollutants - Toxic chemicals that adversely affect human health and the environment.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) - A type of plastic commonly used for bottles and containers, labelled as recyclable #1.

Polymer - A substance made of large, repeating molecular units, commonly used to make various types of plastics.

Polypropylene (PP) - A type of plastic commonly used in packaging, labelled as recyclable #5.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) - A type of plastic used in products such as pipes, labelled as recyclable #3.

Post-consumer - Material that has been used and discarded by consumers, as opposed to industrial waste.

Pre-consumer - Material that is discarded before it reaches the consumer, such as production scraps.

Pyrolysis  - A thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures without the participation of oxygen.


RCV (Rear Compaction Vehicle) - A refuse collection vehicle equipped with a compactor to compress waste.

Rear End Loader (REL) - A refuse collection vehicle where waste is loaded into the rear.

Recovery - The process of retrieving usable materials from waste streams.

Recyclables - Materials that can be reprocessed and used again.

Recycled Content - The portion of a product made from materials that have been recovered or diverted from the waste stream.

Recycling - The process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects.

Recycling Pod - A small centre or facility where people can drop off recyclable materials.

Refuse - General household waste that is not recyclable and is destined for landfill or incineration.

Refuse Derived Fuel - A fuel produced by shredding and dehydrating solid waste.

Remediation - The process of reversing or stopping environmental damage.

Re-processor - A facility or process that converts waste materials into new materials.

Residual Waste - Waste material remaining after the removal of recyclable and compostable materials.

Resource Recovery Facility - A facility that recovers resources from waste, such as materials or energy.

Reuse - The action of using an item again after it has been used.

Rollon Rolloff (RoRo) - A large container used for waste that is designed to roll on and off a haulage vehicle.


Sharps - Medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin.

Single Stream Recycling - A system where all recyclable materials are mixed together in a collection truck, instead of being sorted by the depositor.

Skip - A large open-topped waste container designed for loading onto a special type of lorry.

Split Body Refuse Vehicle - A type of refuse collection vehicle designed to keep different types of waste separate.

Standard Industrial Classification Code (SIC Code) - A system for classifying industries by a four-digit code.

Sustainability - The ability to maintain healthy environmental, social, and economic systems in balance indefinitely.


Textile Recycling - The process of recovering fibre, yarn or fabric and reprocessing the textile material into useful products.

Tipping Fee - The charge levied upon a given quantity of waste received at a waste processing facility.

Top-loader Refuse Vehicle - A waste collection vehicle where waste is loaded from the top.

Trade Refuse Vehicle - A vehicle designed for the collection of commercial waste.

Transfer Station - A facility where waste is transferred from local vehicles to larger long-distance transport vehicles.

Treatment Facility - A site where waste is processed for the purpose of reducing its volume or hazardous nature, recovery of resources, or conversion into energy.


Virgin Materials - Raw materials that have not been previously used or altered in any form.


WAMITAB - An organisation that provides qualifications for the waste management industry.

Waste - Any substance that is discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use.

Waste Audit - The process of analysing an organisation's waste stream to improve waste management strategies.

Waste Collection Authority - The local organisation responsible for the collection of waste.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) - Discarded electrical and electronic devices.

Waste Hierarchy - The classification of waste management strategies according to their desirability in terms of waste minimisation.

Waste Safe - A container designed for safe disposal of hazardous or special waste.

Waste Segregation - The process of separating waste into different elements.

Waste Stream - The complete flow of waste from its domestic or industrial source through to recovery, recycling, or disposal.

Waste Transfer Note - Documentation that records the transfer of waste from one person to another.

Weighbridge - A large scale that is used to weigh large volumes of waste.

Wheelie Bin - A container with wheels designed to store waste and facilitate easier disposal and transport.

White Goods - Large electrical goods used domestically such as refrigerators and washing machines, typically white in color.

WRAP - Waste & Resources Action Programme, a UK charity that works with businesses, individuals and communities for resource efficiency.


Zero Waste - A philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused, and no trash is sent to landfills or incinerators.


As we wrap up our waste management glossary adventure, we hope you've enjoyed the journey through the A-Zs of trash talk.

From anaerobic digestion to zero waste, we've covered it all, leaving no term untouched.

The words of the waste world (Try saying that 5 times) can be confusing, but you can always revisit this guide if you ever need a refresher course of all things waste management. 

Remember, if you ever need bin, skip or junk collection, why not use a company that cuts through all the rubbish and jargon? 

Give us a call on 0161 766 3330 or visit us a www.busybins.co.uk

You can view all our 5* reviews here: https://www.reviews.co.uk/company-reviews/store/busy-bins

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