Waste Management – what is waste & its classification

Waste Management is one of the most common headaches that the society faces today. As the population arose on a very large scale and started occupying every corner of the land, managing waste has become a very big question. Thus let us discuss about what is waste, classification of waste and also the harmful effects of improper waste management.

What is waste?

Waste is a general term used that is widely used in the modern era. Anything unused and unwanted over a period of time can be generally termed as waste. It is usually a no longer useful material that is thrown as thrash, junk or garbage. Waste can be in any form namely solid, liquid or gas. All the waste products, if not properly managed can be hazardous and a threat to the existence of mankind. So waste management is an effective tool for this global issue. Waste management can be defined as a process of collection, transportation and disposal of garbage effectively. This is very important for the protection of the environment and health of humans. Garbage can even be recycled and made into useful resource. Food waste can be used as manure, certain plastics can be recycled and new products can be made and so on. The major reason for this global issue is mainly lack of awareness among the people, non availability of space and careless dumping of waste.


  1. Residential waste : domestic waste comprises of solid and liquid garbage from houses, colonies and residential buildings. These include waste from cooking; cleaning, washing clothes, waste from wash rooms, plastic covers to containers, old books, clothes, furniture, old electronic items like laptop, mobile phones, old fans, electric switches and old newspapers and magazines.
  2. Commercial waste : commercial waste comes from business and commercial enterprises like industries, restaurants, offices, markets, wholesale and retail stores.
  3. Institutional waste : institutional waste arises from school, universities and other institutions like old text books, note books, plastic wrappers, used and throw pens, pencils, rubbers, cutters, scissors, paper clips, color papers, crayons, old furniture, slates and so on.
  4. Garbage : garbage includes vegetable, poultry and animal waste that contains putrescible organic matter. This waste comes from cooking, storing, handling and serving of these items. If these are not properly handled strong foul smell arises which in turn attracts flies and rats. This in future can prove to the hazardous to the environment.
  5. Municipal waste : municipal waste arises from activities such as market waste, waste from the streets, dead animals on the road and so on.
  6. Construction and demolition waste : this waste arises from construction sites repair of houses, demolition and beautification of houses, plumbing and electrical works are being done, wood, metal and concrete remains.
  7. Industrial waste : industrial waste includes waste from the small scale and large scale industries. This can be solid, liquid or gaseous form. The solid waste from thermal power plants, non ferrous industries, paper industries, iron and steel industries also comes under this category.
  8. Biomedical waste : biomedical waste is also known as hospital waste. This includes disposable syringe, gloves, old hospital equipments, human waste post surgery, operation theatre waste, discarded medicines, bandages, human excreta, chemical waste and solid waste like catheters.
  9. Ashes : ashes are waste that comes out of burning wood, charcoal, coal, materials for cooking and heating in buildings and houses. Mostly residue is in the form of fine powder that mixes with the air.
  10. Hazardous waste : hazardous waste includes waste from nuclear power plants, solvents, paints, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, car batteries, radioactive waste and photographic chemicals.
  11. Biodegradable waste : waste products that are organically degraded due to natural biological process like food processing units, sugar factories, paper mills, textile factories are considered biodegradable waste.


  1. Health issues : improper waste management causes a lot of health issues. Waste in the form of solid, liquid and gas mixes with soil, air and water and contaminates it spreading various diseases. Lung disease, breathing difficulties, water and air borne disease, skin allergies, rashes and heart problems are some of the major health problems due to pollution caused by lack of proper waste management.
  2. Air pollution : this is one of the most well known problem for improper waste management. In waste burning areas, most of the waste dumped are burned which is a mixture of different type of toxins. This gas is given out through a vent that easily mixes with the air we breathe. Certain toxic and polluted air rises up and is a major reason for acid rain. Large amount of green house gases are emitted which leads to ozone layer depletion and global warming.Read more about air pollution.
  3. Water pollution : this is a major threat due to improper waste management. As rains fall into the areas where the waste is dumped, a lot of toxins, chemicals and degraded materials gets mixed with water and dissolves. This in turn forms toxic liquids that seep into the ground and gets mixed up with the surface water and ground water. This has a very negative impact on the environment.Read more about Water pollution.
  4. Soil contamination : due to landfills and other waste dumping activities, the soil gets contaminated and loses its natural charm and fertility. This can be mainly because the waste management techniques are improper due to lack of proper awareness. As mentioned above, the mixing of toxins with the ground water is a serious threat to agricultural plantations, natural vegetation and even forests because most of the plants and trees depend upon ground water and water table for its survival.Read about Soil pollution.
  5. Marine life : the marine life is the most effected due to improper waste management. When this toxin mixes with the water, the capacity of the water to absorb oxygen in the atmosphere diminishes. This is a serious threat to the marine world as they depend and survive on the oxygen dissolved in the water for breathing and other activities. The breeding and reproducing capacity of the marine world decreases leading to its extinction.Read about Marine pollution.

To conclude, proper waste management is a global issue that effects the survival of mankind. This is global issue that must be given utmost importance. Proper awareness should be inculcated among each and every individual. Illegal dumping of waste should be banned and proper steps should be taken for its checking. Waste management is not only the responsibility of the government but also the entire society. Proper waste management should start at homes by individuals themselves. The 3 Rs: reduce; reuse and recycle must be given priority. Reducing the use and purchase of goods, reusing of the goods and the use of recycled materials should be the global habit of the people which will reduce the accumulation of waste and garbage to an extent. The most effective measure to manage waste is to recycle and compost in the most effective way. More research should be conducted and newer technology should be adopted for proper and healthy waste management. So now, let’s all join hands together and take a pledge to save our mother earth.

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