WHAT IS WASTE?
Merriam-Webster defines waste as "refuse from places of human or animal habitation." The World Book Dictionary defines waste as "useless or worthless material; stuff to be thrown away." Unfortunately, both definitions reflect a widespread attitude that does not recognize waste as a resource.
Zero Waste America defines waste as "a resource that is not safely recycled back into the environment or the marketplace." This definition takes into account the value of waste as a resource, as well as the threat unsafe recycling can present to the environment and public health.
The word 'waste' and the act of 'wasting' are human inventions. Waste doesn't exist in nature. In nature, everything has a purpose. Waste was created by humans for short-term convenience and short-term profit. Wasting results in long-term harmful consequences for both humans, nature, and the economy.
DEFINITIONS OF WASTE TYPES
Note: The U.S. Code (i.e. statutes), always supersedes The Code of Federal Regulations-CFRs (i.e., regulations). The Code is written by elected representatives, whereas regulations are written by appointed members of the executive branch. Regulations are promulgated pursuant to specific statutes, and cannot conflict with those statutes or go beyond the purpose of the statutes.
(5)... "hazardous waste" means a solid waste, or combination of solid wastes, which because of its quantity, concentration, or physical, chemical, or infectious characteristics may - (A) cause, or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible, illness; or (B) pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of, or otherwise managed. (For another definition, see CFR Part 243 below)
(40)... "medical waste" means any solid waste which is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals. Such term does not include any hazardous waste identified or listed under subchapter III of this chapter or any household waste as defined in regulations under subchapter III of this chapter. (For 'infectious waste' definition, see CFR Part 243 below)
(41) ..."mixed waste" means waste that contains both hazardous waste and source, special nuclear, or by-product material subject to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.).
(27)... "solid waste" means any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations, and from community activities, but does not include solid or dissolved material in domestic sewage, or solid or dissolved materials in irrigation return flows or industrial discharges which are point sources subject to permits under section 1342 of title 33, or source, special nuclear, or byproduct material as defined by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (68 Stat. 923) (42 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.). (For another definition, see CFR Part 243 & 257 below)
(ee)..."transuranic waste" means material contaminated with elements that have an atomic number greater than 92, including neptunium, plutonium, americium, and curium, and that are in concentrations greater than 10 nanocuries per gram, or in such other concentrations as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission may prescribe to protect the public health and safety.
(12)..."high-level radioactive waste" means - (A) the highly radioactive material resulting from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, including liquid waste produced directly in reprocessing and any solid material derived from such liquid waste that contains fission products in sufficient concentrations; and (B) other highly radioactive material that the Commission, consistent with existing law, determines by rule requires permanent isolation.
(16)..."low-level radioactive waste" means radioactive material that - (A) is not high-level radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel, transuranic waste, or by-product material as defined in section 2014(e)(2) of this title; and (B) the Commission, consistent with existing law, classifies as low-level radioactive waste.
CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS
Solid Waste: Garbage, refuse, sludges, and other discarded solid materials, including solid waster materials resulting from industrial, commercial, and agricultural operations, and from community activities, but does not include solid or dissolved materials in domestic sewage or other significant pollutants in water resources, such as silt, dissolved or suspended solids in industrial wastewater effluents, dissolved materials in irrigation return flows or other common water pollutants. Unless specifically noted otherwise, the term "solid waste' as used in these guidelines shall not include mining, agricultural, and industrial solid wastes; hazardous wastes; sludges; construction and demolition wastes; and infectious wastes. (For another definition see U.S. Code above and CFR Part 257 below)
Hazardous Waste: A waste or combination of wastes of a solid, liquid, contained gaseous, or semisolid form which may cause, or contribute to, an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible illness, taking into account the toxicity of such waste, its persistence and degradability in nature, its potential for accumulation or concentration in tissue, and other factors that may otherwise cause or contribute to adverse acute or chronic effects on the health of persons or other organisms. (For another definition, see U.S. Code above)
Construction/Demolition: Waste building materials, packaging, and rubble resulting from construction, remodeling, repair, and demolition operations on pavements, houses, commercial buildings, and other structures.
Agricultural Solid Waste: Solid waste that is generated by the rearing of animals, and the producing and harvesting of crops or trees.
Industrial (Residual) Solid Waste: Solid waste generated by industrial processes and manufacturing.
Infectious Waste: 1) Equipment, instruments, utensils, and formites of a disposable nature from the rooms of patients who are suspected to have or have been diagnosed as having a communicable disease and must, therefore, be isolated as required by public health agencies; 2) laboratory wastes, such as pathological specimens (e.g., all tissues, specimens of blood elements, excreta, and secretions obtained from patients or laboratory animals) and disposable formites (any substance that may harbor or transmit pathogenic oranisms) attendant thereto: 3) surgical operating room pathologic specimens and disposable formites attendant thereto, and similar disposable materials from outpatient areas and emergency rooms.(See 'medical waste' definition in U.S. Code above).
Sludge: The accumulated semiliquid suspension of settled solids deposited from wastewaters or other fluids in tanks or basins. it does not include solids or dissolved material in domestic sewage or other significant pollutants in water resources, such as silt, dissolved materials in iffigation return flows or other common water pollutants. (For another definition, see Part 257 below).
PART 257 (Updated 1997) - CRITERIA FOR CLASSIFICATION OF SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL FACILITIES AND PRACTICES (Adobe PDF) Under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
Sewage Sludge: Solid, semi-solid, or liquid residue generated during the treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment works. Sewage sludge includes, but is not limited to, domestic septage; scum or solids removed in primary, secondary, or advanced wastewater treatment processes; and a material derived from sewage sludge. Sewage sludge does not include ash generated during the firing of sewage sludge in a sewage sludge incinerator or grit and screenings generated during preliminary treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment works.
Sludge: Any solid, semisolid, or liquid waste generated from a municipal, commercial, or industrial wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility or any other such waste having similar characteristics and effect. (For another definition, see Part 243 above).
Solid Waste: Any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gasious material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agrecultural operations, and from community activities, but does not include solid or dissolved materials in domistic sewage, or solid or dissolved material in irrigation return flows or industrial discharges which are point sources subject to permits under section 402 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended (86 Stat.880), or source, special nuclear, or byproduct material as devined by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (68 Stat.923). (For another definition, see U.S. Code above and CFR Part 243 above).
Mining Wastes: Residues which result from the extraction of raw materials from the earth.
Scrap Metal: Bits and pieces of metal parts (e.g., bars, turnings, rods, sheets, wire) or metal pieces that may be combined together with bolts or soldering (e.g., radiators, scrap automobiles, railroad box cars), which when worn or superluuous can be recycled.
Universal waste: Household hazardous waste that may be allowed disposal in municipal landfills, specifically: batteries, pesticides, and thermostats.
HR 1346 Interstate Waste Control Act of 1997-Definitions
(A) Any solid waste identified or listed as a hazardous waste under section 3001.
(B) Any solid waste , including contaminated soil and debris, resulting from--(i) a response action taken under section 104 or 106 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (42 U.S.C. 9604 or 9606), (ii) a response action taken under a State law with authorities comparable to the authorities of section 104 or 106, or (iii) a corrective action taken under this Act.
(C) Recyclable materials that have been separated, at the source of the waste , from waste otherwise destined for disposal or that have been managed separately from waste destined for disposal, including scrap rubber to be used as a fuel source.
(D) Materials and products returned from a dispenser or distributor to the manufacturer or an agent of the manufacturer for credit, evaluation, and possible reuse.
(E) Any solid waste that is--(i) generated by an industrial facility; and(ii) transported for the purpose of treatment, storage, or disposal to a facility or unit thereof that is owned or operated by the generator of the waste or located on property owned by the generator or a company with which the generator is affiliated or the capacity of which is contractually dedicated exclusively to a specific generator so long as the disposal area complies with local and State land use and zoning regulations applicable to the disposal site.
(F) Any medical waste that is segregated from or not mixed with solid waste .
(G) Sewage sludge and residuals from any sewage treatment plant, including any sewage treatment plant required to be constructed in the State of Massachusetts pursuant to any court order issued against the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.
(H) Combustion ash generated by resource recovery facilities or municipal incinerators, or waste from manufacturing or processing (including pollution control) operations not essentially the same as waste normally generated by households.