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 Waste is a term for unwanted items or materials. Synonyms include: garbage, refuse,
trash and rubbish.
 The United Nations Statistics Division defines wastes as ‘materials that are not prime
products (that is products produced for the market) for which the initial user has no
further use in terms of his/her own purposes of production, transformation or
consumption, and of which he/she wants to dispose.
 Wastes may be generated during the extraction of raw materials, the processing of raw
materials into intermediate and final products, the consumption of final products, and
other human activities.
 waste as ‘any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to

Classification of Wastes
According to Sources:
1. Industrial
a. Nuclear plants: It generated radioactive wastes
b. Thermal power plants: It produces fly ash in large quantities
c. Chemical Industries: It produces large quantities of hazardous and toxic
d. Other industries: Other industries produce packing materials, rubbish, organic
wastes, acid, alkali, scrap metals, rubber, plastic, paper, glass, wood, oils, paints,
dyes, etc.
2. Agricultural
a. Farms – fertilizers, pesticides, food wastes, etc
b. Poultry Houses – manure, chicken feathers, dead animals, etc
c. Slaughterhouses – manure, blood, etc.
3. Urban
a. Domestic wastes containing a variety of materials thrown out from homes
Ex: Food waste, Cloth, Waste paper, Glass bottles, Polythene bags, Waste
metals, etc.
b. Commercial wastes: It includes wastes coming out from shops, markets, hotels,
offices, institutions, etc.
Ex: Waste paper, packaging material, cans, bottle, polythene bags, etc.
c. Construction wastes: It includes wastes of construction materials.
Ex: Wood, Concrete, Debris, etc
d. Biomedical wastes: It includes mostly waste organic materials
Ex: Anatomical wastes, Infectious wastes, etc.
According to Legislative Decree:
1. Municipal waste and mixed waste (vegetables, paper, metals, glass, plastics and so on)
2. Bulky urban waste (furniture, equipment, vehicles, construction and demolition waste
other than inert material)
3. Waste subject to special legislation (e.g. hazardous, infectious, radioactive)
According to its Physical state:
1. Solid waste
2. Liquid waste
3. Gaseous waste
According to Properties
1. Bio-degradable wastes - Those wastes that can be degraded by micro organisms are
called bio-degradable wastes
Ex: Food, vegetables, tea leaves, dry leaves, etc.
2. Non-biodegradable wastes: Urban solid waste materials that cannot be degraded by
micro organisms are called non-biodegradable wastes.
Ex: Polythene bags, scrap materials, glass bottles, etc.
According to Effects to Human & Environment
1. Hazardous waste- any corrosive, combustible, reactive and toxic material that can cause
severe harm to human health and the environment, which may be in the form of liquids,
solids, gases or sludge.
2. Non-hazardous wastes- substances safe to use commercially, industrially, agriculturally, or
economically and do not ignite, corrode, combust, and do not or less affects to human health
and environment.
According to Type
1. Nuclear wastes – includes radioactive substances coming from reactors fuel which is highly
dangerous and requires proper disposal
Ex. C-14, U-235, U-238, U-239, Ra-226, Th, Pu, etc
2. Thermal wastes – release of heat into any segments of environment
Ex. When water was used as coolant is returned to air at higher temperature affects oxygen
supply and ecosystem composition
3. Chemical wastes - These wastes are typically generated from any unnecessary or excess
use of a chemical, excess mixed or unmixed chemicals, and substances or materials
contaminated with chemicals. They are commonly found in the form of mislabeled,
unlabeled, or abandoned substances, as well as contaminated debris such as rags,
gloves, containers, disposable utensils, etc
4. Sludge- It is a byproduct produced from processes such as waste treatment and air
emissions control, but is typically associated with wastewater treatment. Wastewater
treatment seeks to remove suspended and dissolved solids while converting soluble
organic material to bacterial cells.
5. Plastic wastes – accumulation of plastic products in the environment that affects wildlife,
wildlife habitat and humans
6. E-waste - discarded electrical or electronic devices.
Ex: computers, TV, music systems, etc.

Waste Management
 the control of materials that have become redundant and therefore need to be discarded.
 encompasses management of all processes and resources for proper handling of waste
materials, from maintenance of waste transport trucks and dumping facilities to
compliance with health codes and environmental regulations.
 includes collection, transportation, sorting, recycling, clearance, and disposal of waste
 includes radioactive substances and other materials that are in a solid, liquid, or gaseous
state, and their management techniques also differ from each other.
 involve some sort of system or process that comprehensively accounts for all wastes
generated by an organization.
 Fundamental management should address waste minimization, generation, storage,
handling, transport, and disposal.
 good waste management goes beyond fundamentals with initiatives like waste
prevention, recycling, reuse, treatment, and composting.

Discarding wastes
The following methods are adopted for discarding wastes:
1. Landfill - This is the most common and cheapest cheapest method of waste disposal
2. Incineration - It is a hygenic way of disposing solid waste. It is suitable if waste contains
more hazardous material and organic content. It is a thermal process and very effective
for detoxification of all combustible pathogens. It is expensive when compared to
composting or land-filling.
3. Composting - It is another popular method practiced in many cities in our country. In this
method, bulk organic waste is converted into fertilizer by biological action.
4. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (3R)
o Reduce - If usage of raw materials is reduced, the generation of waste also gets
o Reuse - Refillable containers that are discarded after use can be reused
o Recycle- Recycling is the reprocessing of discarded materials into new useful

Effects of Improper Waste Management

 Due to improper disposal of municipal solid waste on the roads and immediate
surroundings, biodegradable materials undergo decomposition producing foul smell and
become a breeding ground for disease vectors.
 Industrial solid wastes are the source for toxic metals and hazardous wastes that affect
soil characteristics and productivity of soils when they are dumped on the soil
 Toxic substances may percolate into the ground and contaminate the groundwater.
 Burning of industrial or domestic wastes (cans, pesticides, plastics, radioactive materials
and batteries) produce furans, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls that are harmful to
human beings.

Chemically hazardous waste must be treated through neutralization, mineralization,

insolubilization or must be made inert before it can then be deposited in secure chemical landfills.
Infectious waste is best burnt in special incinerators. Radioactive waste is subject to very strict

Treatment: means recovery or disposal operations, including preparation prior to recovery or

Recovery: means any operation that principally results in waste serving a useful purpose by
replacing other materials which would otherwise have been used to fulfil a particular function, or
waste being prepared to fulfil that function, in the factory or in the wider economy.