Waste, rubbish, trash, garbage, or junk is unwanted or undesired material.

There are a number of different types of waste. It can exist as a solid, liquid, or gas or as waste heat. When released in the latter two states the wastes can be referred to as emissions. It is usually strongly linked with pollution. Waste may also be intangible in the case of wasted time or wasted opportunities. The term waste implies things which have been used inefficiently or inappropriately.

Some components of waste can be recycled once recovered from the waste stream, e.g. plastic bottles, metals, glass or paper. The biodegradable component of wastes (e.g. paper & food waste) can be composted or anaerobicly digested to produce soil improvers and renewable fuels. If it is not dealt with sustainably in this manner biodegradable waste can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and by implication climate change.

There are two main definitions of waste. One view comes from the individual or organisation producing the material, the second is the view of Government, and is set out in different acts of waste legislation. The two have to combine to ensure the safe and legal disposal of the waste.

The concept can be applied also to use of energy, with wasted energy having consequences for example for climate change.

Cultural dynamics of waste Edit

In addition to these points above, there is also an important cultural dimension to waste. "Wasting time," "wasting money," "wasting good food" or "being wasteful" in innumerable ways involves moral judgments that carry a great deal of weight in human interaction and that differ in the societies of the world and even within those societies.

For example: chefs from different culinary traditions prize cuts of meat that other countries' chefs will "waste"; parents may view a child's career in a rock band as a "waste" of their education (an opinion not shared by the child, who may feel they have found their calling); and so on.

These varying conceptions of waste frequently impact environmental decision-making in societies different from, those of Europe, North America, Australia, etc., which have a rough consensus on environmentalist values.

Global news 2008 Edit

  • Vast amounts of hazardous electronic waste unaccounted for, February 21 [1]

News UK Edit


  • 33% fall in waste to landfill, May 26 [2]


  • "Nearly 20% less waste has been sent to landfill since 2001", says Environment Agency, March 26 [3]


Random facts Edit


  • Americans throw away 40-50% of all food grown in their country, Source: Tomorrowland, Exploring the potential of social networks and new media, September 24, 2010


  • In 2008, 54 million tonnes of (UK) waste were sent to landfill, a decrease of 33 percent since 2000/01, when 80 million tonnes were landfilled. Source: Defra, 26 November 2009

Related topics Edit

Wanted pages and external links



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  1. Greenpeace, February 21
  2. UKWIN, May 26, 2009
  3. Environment Agency, March 26, 2008
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