Glossary of Waste Management Terms

A list of terms and their definitions frequently used either in waste management industry, or by Rubbish Please.


Aerobic Composting
Bacteria that requires oxygen is used to compost biological wastes. This organic waste should be exposed to air.
Agricultural Waste
Organic residual materials from different sources including fruit, vegetables, lifestock and poultry. It can be found in both solid and liquid form.
Air Pollution
Air pollutants found in the atmosphere that are harmful to humans, animals and/or plants. It can also cause damage properties
Anaerobic digestion
Unlike aerobic composting this anaerobic composting method requires no oxygen. Methane is produced during the process of fermentation.
Biodegradable material
When micorganisms break down organic materials into simpler compounds, biodegradable materials are created. Some of the most common household examples are: food waste, paper, clothing and towels
Bulky waste
Household appliances such as ovens and fridges, as well as unwanted furniture and other large refuse that can't be handled by the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW).
Chemical Waste
Waste containing or made from harmful chemicals. Most rubbish removal companies in the UK don't collect chemical waste due to safety reasons.
Clinical Waste
Medical waste is usually produced by healthcare facilities such as laboratories and hospitals. Clinical waste doesn't fall under the category of "general waste".
Residential and/or commercial rubbish is loaded on to a specialized van that then transports it to a local disposal site.
Commercial waste
Materials from factories, markets, restaurants, pubs, offices, warehouses, hotels and other wholesale or retail establishments.
Material produced as a result of the composting process. It's sometimes called humus and is often used as a fertilizer.
The natural breakdown of organic materials like food waste and grass into a soil amendment known as compost or humus.
Construction and demolition debris
Rubbish generated during construction and demolition such as cement, concrete, rubble, timber, and steel
Curbside collection
Also known as kerbside collection, this refers to a domestic rubbish collection service. Special vehicles are used to pick up garbage containers containing household waste.
Scattered pieces of waste intended for disposal. It consists of solid materials usually larger than 62 mm.
The collection and transportation of waste by the rubbish removal team to the local landfill or dump.
A special trash receptacle designed to be hoisted and emptied into the waste collection truck
Duty of Care
Anyone who produces, stores, transports or disposes of domestic and/or commercial rubbish is required to treat the public with consideration and respect for health and safety reasons.
Electronic Waste
E-waste is discarded electronic devices such as computers, TVs, microwaves and other electrical appliances. This type of waste is also known as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).
Extremely Hazardous Waste
A dangerous type of waste that may seriously harm or even kill both humans and pets. It's potentially harmful to the environment too.
The illegal disposal of waste on land not certified to store and/or receive it.
Food Waste
This is food discarded from domestic and commercial kitchens. The most common types of food waste are fruit and vegetable peelings, meat scraps and spoiled meals
Fungus (Fungi)
Groups of syncytial, unicellular or multicellular microorganisms that feed on organic matter like yeast, mushrooms, toadstools and mould. These organisms produce spores, some of which are pathogens, the rest are stabilized sewage digesting composted waste.
Garbage is a synonym of waste, trash, junk and rubbish. They're unwanted objects that need to be disposed of
Hazardous Waste
A potentially harmful and dangerous type of rubbish that is not safe for humans nor for the environment. Special precautions should be taken when it's disposed of.
House clearance
A type of domestic (typically) service that may involve a part or the entire house. People resort to house clearance service when they need many items (often bulky) removed from the house, basement, shed or garage.
Household hazardous waste
A harmful type of waste found in households. It includes paint and aggressive cleaning compounds.
Also known as compost, this is the end result of the composting process. Leaves and other organic materials are broken down by soil microorganisms into humus.
A method that industries use to break down waste and distribute it into the environment through ash, water and air.
Industrial Water Waste Treatment
The processes that are used to treat contaminated water. Upon completion the water can be re-used and released into the environment.
Inorganic waste
Waste composed of material other than plant or animal matter, such as sand, dust, glass, and many synthetics.
Integrated Waste Management
The term refers to the complementary use of multiple practices to handle municipal solid waste effectively and safely.
A typical place to dispose of rubbish and refuse. Waste is buried in excavated pits which are usually covered with soil or special fabric cover. This method is considered safe for the environment.
Any kind of misplaced waste left lying in an inappropriate open or public place.
Materials recovery facility (MRF)
A special facility for separating recyclables materials mechanically or manually. The waste is placed in different categories like glass, plastic, paper and metal
Mixed waste
A combination of waste materials that have been thrown into the rubbish stream.
Municipal solid waste (MSW)
Known as refuse or rubbish in the UK. Consists of unwanted items thrown away by the public on daily basis.
Municipal solid waste management
MSWM is the planning, development and implementation of systems that can handle municipal solid waste
Organic waste
Refers to types of waste that contain carbon. This could be paper, food waste or yard trimmings. The term is often used to describe materials that can be decomposited by microorganisms
Products or items than can be reprocessed for the purpose of manufacturing new products. The most common recyclable materials are paper, aluminium, glass and plastic containers.
Recycled content
The portion of a product that is made from recycled components.
The reprocessing of already used materials into new products in order to reduce the usage of raw materials. It's purpose is to prevent the waste of resources, reduce air and water pollution and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
Rubbish accumulated from households, retail centers or offices. It includes discarded food items, paper and green waste.
Unlike recycling where the waste is broke down into raw materials, reusing is a process in which products that are not categorized as waste are used again for their initial purpose.
Waste material, refuse or litter
Solid Waste
Garbage accumulated from households, restaurants and shopping centres.
Meeting the needs of the current generation in a way that doesn't harm the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
Virgin materials
Materials which are gathered from the environment in their initial, raw form such as timber and metal.
Waste collector
A person employed by a private company or a local council to dispose of waste from households, businesses and bins.
Waste stream
The complete flow of waste from domestic or industrial areas through to final disposal.
Yard trimmings
Discarded cut grass and leaves which can be composted
Yard waste
Also called also garden waste. It encompasses leaves, grass clippings, branches and more
Zero Waste
A philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused.

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