All families produce household waste and, sometimes, are oblivious of the fact that some of it can be recycled. We tend to throw everything into the bin. The result is that a lot of recyclable waste ends up in landfills. Ideally, waste should first be recycled at the source. For instance, if you have a garden, most biodegradable waste can be used as manure.
To recycle waste, you need first to know what is recyclable and what is not. There are many types of waste, and knowing the difference is a significant first step in understanding what can be recycled and what cannot.
Below are nine different types of waste:
1. Domestic Waste
These types of waste are generated as a result of household activities. It is a type of waste that is taken from the premises by the person who generated it. The local government may also collect these types of waste as a waste collection and disposal service. Domestic waste is referred to as municipal solid waste, also known as trash, garbage or rubbish.
Some types of household waste are hazardous. Hazardous waste is any unwanted material that is harmful to people and/ or the environment. In most cases, this type of hazardous waste may result in health complications; hence it should be separated from other domestic wastes.
2. Industrial Waste
This is waste generated from industrial activities. It could be from factories, mills, industries and mining processes. Examples of industrial waste include chemical solvents, sludge, metals, ash and paints.
3. Inert Waste
Inert waste does not decompose. It is not chemically or biologically reactive. A good example of inert waste is sand and concrete. It is cheaper to dispose of inert waste than other biodegradable or hazardous waste. Unlike plastics, inert waste does not have harmful residues. Instead, it coagulates in the environment and ends up causing serious problems.
4. Non-Hazardous Waste
Unlike hazardous waste, these types of waste are not as harmful. Materials such as paper, wood, glass and metals are not classified as hazardous. However, if disposed of inappropriately, they may cause significant damage to the environment and to humans.
5. Biodegradable Waste
This is any organic waste that can be broken down into water, carbon dioxide, and simple organic molecules by micro-organisms. Inorganic materials that can decompose are classified as biodegradable waste. An example of this is gypsum, which can decompose to produce hydrogen sulphide in anaerobic landfill conditions.
6. Radioactive Waste
Radioactive waste refers to any waste material with traces of radioactivity. It is often a by-product of nuclear power generation and other nuclear technology applications. It is a toxic type of waste that can cause great harm to the environment and other forms of life. To red radioactive waste, there are regulations in place that ensure the protection of the environment and the avoidance of health hazards. Radioactive waste should be segregated in the right disposal facilities long enough to lose its potency to the point where it does not pose any threat to people and the environment.
7. Sanitary Waste
These types of waste come in liquid or solid state. It is generated solely from humans and human activities. It is collected from toilets, showers, wash basins, washing machines and sinks used for cleaning domestic areas. Sanitary waste is almost always non-hazardous and non-radioactive. However, if not disposed of properly, it may cause water pollution and consequently pose a threat to health.
8. Construction and Demolition Waste
This waste includes unwanted materials produced at a construction site. Examples of such waste include nails, electrical wiring, shingles, and roofing materials. This type of waste may be classified as dangerous since most of it contains lead and asbestos. Most of the waste from construction and demolition sites has the potential to be recycled. Where recycling is out of the question, disposal of these waste must be done according to the relevant regulatory bodies. If this is not followed, some penalties could go up to tens of thousands of dollars.
9. Recyclable Waste
Recycled waste is material that can be repurposed and converted into reusable products. This may include paper, furniture, some types of metal, and organic waste. For those unsure whether a product is recyclable or not, the product packaging clearly states whether they are or not.
It is important we all take up the responsibility of taking care of our environment. By making sure we properly dispose of waste materials, we are creating a better tomorrow for our generation and generations to come. By understanding the nine different types of waste, you are in a better position to deal with any waste, whether it is harmful or not. Besides, the responsibility of taking care of the environment is a universal one. By identifying the different types of waste, the next step is to sort the waste and dispose of it appropriately. This has the effect of minimizing the impact of waste on landfills and other waste treatment centres.