A  true, yet  very  simple  definition  of  waste  is  something  we  don’t want  and  throw  away.

Waste is an inevitable by-product of our use of natural resources.

Waste  is  split  into  three  categories  of  household (12%), industrial (78%)  and  commercial (10%)  collectively referred  to  as  “Controlled  Waste”.

Certain wastes are classified as “Hazardous Waste” a very broad term for a wide range of substances that present different levels of risk. Some present a serious and immediate threat to the population and the environment, for example those which are toxic, could cause cancer or infectious disease.

About three quarters of the UK’s municipal solid waste is disposed of directly to landfill.

Reuse and recycling (including composting) account for a further 13% of municipal solid waste.

The remainder is pre-treated, mostly by incineration (approximately 9% of municipal solid waste).

The remaining 1% is pre-treated using a variety of new or specialist methods which include  gasification/pyrolysis; mechanical biological treatment (MBT); and anaerobic digestion.


Waste management is a very large scale activity which inevitably has consequences for Human Health and the Environment. Waste should be managed in ways that protect human health and the environment and

in particular:

• Without risk to water, air, soil and plants and animals;

• Without causing a nuisance through noise or odours;

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• Without adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest;

• Disposing of waste at the nearest appropriate installation, by means of the most

appropriate methods and technologies.



• Landfill sites have been investigated as the possible cause of birth defects, cancers and respiratory illnesses including asthma;

• Incinerators have been investigated as to possible increases in cancer, birth defects and respiratory illnesses including asthma. Other studies have particularly concentrated on emissions of dioxins;

• Composting and Materials Recycling Facilities (MRFs) have been investigated for possible exposures to micro-organisms and odours, and lung diseases like ...

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