Launch Sort It
Glossary

This glossary of terms was compiled from a wide range of sources and covers some of the most commonly used waste-related words and abbreviations.

Please select a letter from the A-Z index to find the definition of a term.

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Aerate
To expose to the air, for example, by turning compost to provide enough oxygen for micro-organisms to use in breaking down organic waste.
Aerobic
A process that uses oxygen, for example, composting that uses micro-organisms that require air to break down organic waste.
Aerobic Digestion
The breakdown of waste in the presence of oxygen.
Anaerobic
A process that does not use oxygen, for example, composting that uses micro-organisms that do not require air to break down organic waste.
Anaerobic Digestion
The breakdown of waste in the absence of oxygen. A waste treatment process where biodegradable waste is placed in an enclosed vessel and breaks down under controlled conditions.
Animal By-Products Regulation (ABPR)
Legislation governing the processing of wastes derived from animal sources to prevent cross contamination.
Area Waste Plan (AWP)
As part of the National Waste Strategy: Scotland, each Waste Strategy Area has produced an Area Waste Plan. This outlines how each area will develop more sustainable methods of waste management in order to reach the waste reduction and recycling targets set out in the EU Landfill Directive and Scotlandís National Waste Plan.
Baled
When materials such as cans, paper and plastic bottles are collected for recycling, they are first sorted and then baled. This means that they are put into large packages (bales) and bound together for transportation.
Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO)
The Best Practicable Environmental Option procedure establishes the waste management option, or mix of options, that provides the most benefits or the least damage to the environment as a whole, at acceptable cost, in the long term as well as in the short term. It takes into account the total impact of a process and the technical possibilities for dealing with it.
Biodegradable Municipal Waste
The portion of Municiapl Solid Waste that can be broken down by a natural process of decomposition with bacteria and other micro-organisms. Includes food waste, garden waste, paper and card.
Biodegradable Waste
Waste that can be broken down by a natural process of decomposition with bacteria and other micro-organisms. Biodegradable waste includes garden waste and food waste. Also called green waste or organic waste.
Bottle Bank
See Recycling Point.
Bring Site
See Recycling Point.
Carbon Dioxide
Carbon dioxide (or CO2) is a greenhouse gas that is released from the waste in landfill sites and contributes to climate change.
Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM)
CIWM is the leading professional body for waste and resource management. Visit www.CIWM.co.uk for more information.
Civic Amenity Site
See Recycling Centre.
Climate Change
The term climate change is commonly used to mean global warming, but it also includes natural changes in the Earthís climate. Climate change refers to the build-up of man-made gases in the atmosphere that trap the sunís heat, causing changes in weather patterns on a global scale. Effects include changes in rainfall patterns, sea level rise, potential droughts, habitat loss, and heat stress.
Clinical Waste
Includes waste from the dental, medical, nursing, pharmaceutical and veterinary industries, which is usually incinerated to prevent the spread of infection.
Combined Heat & Power (CHP)
A CHP plant provides simultaneous generation of heat and power (usually electricity) in a single process.
Commercial Waste
Waste generated from commercial premises, ie those that are used primarily for trade, business, sport, recreation or entertainment.
Community Recycling Network for Scotland (CRNS)
The CRNS is a membership organisation set up to provide support and information for community led groups involved in recycling, reuse, composting, reduction and waste education activities. Visit www.CRNS.org.uk for more information.
Compost
A material which, when applied to land, improves soil structure and enriches the nutrient content.
Composting
A process by which biodegradable material, such as garden waste, is converted, in the presence of oxygen from the air, into compost.
Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA)
CoSLA is the representative voice of Scottish local government and also acts as the employersí association on behalf of all Scottish councils. Visit www.cosla.gov.uk for more information.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
DEFRA works for the essentials of life - food, air, land, water, people, animals and plants. Their remit is the pursuit of sustainable development. Visit www.DEFRA.gov.uk for more information.
Do A Little Change A Lot (DALCAL)
DALCAL is the national environmental campaign run by the Scottish Executive. It is an awareness campaign that aims to raise the profile of key environmental issues and convert this to behavioural change over time.
Dry Recyclates
Dry waste materials that can be recycled and are often collected together at the kerbside, for example, cans, cardboard, glass, paper, plastic bottles and textiles.
Duty of Care
The duty of care is a law that requires industry to take all reasonable steps to keep waste safe. All waste handlers must be authorised to transport and recycle or dispose of waste safely. The duty of care applies to any company that produces or imports, keeps or stores, transports, treats or disposes of waste.
Emissions
Gases, solids and liquids that are discharged into the air, water or ground.
Energy from Waste (EfW)
The process of recovering energy by burning or otherwise treating waste.
Energy Recovery
The recovery of useful energy in the form of heat and/or power from burning waste. Generally applied to incineration, but can also include the combustion of landfill gas and gas produced during anaerobic digestion.
EU Landfill Directive
The objective of the EU Landfill Directive (99/31/EC) is to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment from the landfilling of waste, by introducing stringent technical requirements for waste and landfills. The Directive is intended to prevent or reduce the adverse effects of the landfill of waste on the environment, in particular on surface water, groundwater, soil, air and human health.
Flytipping
The illegal dumping of waste by householders or businesses.
Garden Waste
Green waste or organic waste from the garden, such as flowers and plants, garden prunings, grass cuttings, hedge clippings, leaves and bark, small branches, straw, twigs, weeds and wood shavings. This type of waste can be used in composting.
Gasification
Thermal treatment that involves heating waste in the presence of oxygen to recover energy in the form of gas.
Global Warming
The progressive, gradual increase in the Earthís average temperature thought to be caused by the greenhouse effect, which contributes to climate change.
Green Waste
Waste that can be broken down by a natural process of decomposition with bacteria and other micro-organisms. Green waste includes garden waste and food waste. Also called biodegradable waste or organic waste.
Greenhouse Effect
Warming that results when solar radiation is trapped by the atmosphere, caused by the presence of greenhouse gases that allow incoming sunlight to pass through, but absorb heat radiated back from the Earth's surface. Contributes to climate change.
Greenhouse Gas
A gas composed of molecules that absorb and reradiate infrared electromagnetic radiation. Greenhouse gases are released from the waste in landfill sites and, when present in the atmosphere, these gases contribute to climate change. Carbon Dioxide and methane are among the principal greenhouse gases.
Hazardous Waste
Waste that poses a risk to human health or the environment and requires special disposal techniques to make it harmless or less dangerous. Hazardous waste can include a range of materials, such as asbestos, fridges and radioactive waste. Also called special waste.
Incineration
The burning of waste at high temperatures in the presence of enough oxygen to achieve complete combustion, either to reduce its volume or its harmfulness. Municipal Solid Waste incinerators recover heat and/or power. The main emissions are carbon dioxide, water and ash residues.
Industrial Waste
Waste generated from industrial premises, such as factories.
Inert Waste
Waste that is not active, meaning that it does not decompose or otherwise change. Chemically inert, non-combustible, non-biodegradable and non-polluting waste as defined in the EU Landfill Directive.
In-vessel Composting
The method of composting that involves the decomposition of organic waste within an enclosed container, where moisture, temperature and odour can be regulated. Produces stable compost more quickly than windrow composting.
Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB)
KSB is an environmental charity which aims to achieve litter free and sustainable environments by co-ordinating a number of programmes, including the Blue Flag award scheme, Eco Schools, Eco Congregation and People & Places. Visit www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org for more information.
Kerbside Recycling
A regular doorstep collection of recyclates from a specified kerbside container.
Landfill (Site)
Landfill is the main method of waste disposal in Scotland at the current time and involves burying waste in the ground. A landfill site is a licensed facility where waste is permanently deposited for disposal.
Leachate
A toxic solution formed by water in which components of waste have dissolved, which permeates the soil surrounding a landfill site.
Materials Reclamation/Recovery Facility (MRF)
A plant where materials are sorted, separated, baled and sent on to be recycled. Also called a Waste Transfer Station .
Methane
Methane (or CH4) is a greenhouse gas that is released from the waste in landfill sites and contributes to climate change .
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
MSW includes all the solid waste that is collected by (or on behalf of) the local authority. This includes all solid waste from households and some of the waste produced by businesses.
National Waste Plan (NWP)
The National Waste Plan was developed as an action plan to implement The National Waste Strategy: Scotland. It outlines the waste reduction and recycling targets for Scottish local authorities and how these will be achieved.
National Waste Strategy (NWS)
The National Waste Strategy: Scotland was formulated to improve the way we deal with our waste in Scotland. Through the National Waste Strategy, we are putting in place mechanisms that will protect the environment and our future.
Non-inert Waste
Waste that is active, meaning that it will decompose or otherwise change. Chemically active, combustible, biodegradable or polluting waste.
Organic Waste
Waste that can be broken down by a natural process of decomposition by bacteria and other micro-organisms. Also called biodegradable waste or green waste. Includes garden waste and food waste.
Polluter Pays Principle
Under this principle, the person or organisation that produces pollution (including waste) is held responsible for it. Linked to Producer Responsibility.
Producer Responsibility
Requires industry and commerce involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of particular goods to take greater responsibility for the disposal and/or recovery of the goods at the end of their useful life. Linked to Polluter Pays Principle .
Pyrolysis
The thermal treatment of waste to recover energy. The waste is heated in the absence of oxygen to produce a mixture of gas, solid and liquid fuel.
Recyclates
Waste materials that are suitable for recycling.
Recycle
Recycle is the third stage in the Waste Hierarchy and means using waste materials to manufacture other products of an identical or similar nature.
Recycling
Recycling involves reprocessing waste materials to produce new materials. Recycling materials like cans, glass, paper and textiles recovers the valuable resources in waste to make new products. The recycled materials can be made into the same product (closed-loop recycling) or a different product (open-loop recycling).
Recycling Centre
A manned site with a collection of Recycling Points for depositing recyclates. Recycling Centres usually accept a wider range of waste materials than Recycling Points and can include other facilities, such as normal household waste disposal. Previously known as Civic Amenity Sites.
Recycling Point
An unmanned site with a container, or a collection of containers, for depositing recyclates, eg at a supermarket. Previously know as bring sites or bottle banks.
Reduce
Reduce is the first stage in the Waste Hierarchy and means taking steps to lower the amount of waste that we produce. Waste that is not created in the first place does not need to be reused, recycled or disposed of, so preventing or reducing waste generation is the most efficient way to deal with our waste. Also called waste minimisation.
Reuse
Reuse is the second stage in the Waste Hierarchy. Product reuse involves the multiple use of an item in its original form, for its original purpose or for an alternative, with or without reconditioning. In many cases, waste that cannot be prevented can be reused to avoid buying new products. This helps to ensure that we get the most out of our waste and saves valuable natural resources.
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Scottish Environmental Services Association (SESA)
SESA works with partners in Scotland`s public and private sectors to implement The National Waste Strategy: Scotland and develop economically and environmentally sustainable waste management. Visit www.esauk.org/scotland for more information.
Scottish Executive (SE)
The Scottish Executive is the devolved government for Scotland. It is responsible for most of the issues of day-to-day concern to the people of Scotland, including health, education, justice, rural affairs, and transport. Visit www.scotland.gov.uk for more information.
Scottish Waste Awareness Group (SWAG)
SWAG was set up in 2000 with the remit of changing public attitudes and behaviour towards domestic waste. SWAG aims to deliver the national campaign, Waste Aware Scotland, to raise awareness of, and change public attitudes and behaviour towards Reduce , Reuse and Recycle .
Soil Conditioner
A product containing nutrients that can be applied to soil to improve its condition. Also called compost.
Source-segregated / Source-separated
Waste materials that are separated by type at source. Usually applies to waste collection systems where recyclates and/or organic waste are separated into specified containers by the householder and collected separately.
Special Waste
See Hazardous Waste.
Sustainable
A way of life, behaviour or practice that can be maintained indefinitely, as it does not exhaust any finite resources.
Sustainable Development
Development that can be sustained in the long term, as it does not exhaust any finite resources. Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN)
SSN brings together practitioners from Scotlandís local authorities to share experience and take action on sustainable development. Visit www.sustainable-scotland.net for more information.
Thermal Treatment
To break down using heat. The treatment of waste to recover energy, including gasification, incineration, and pyrolysis.
Treatment
Involves the physical, chemical or biological processing of waste to reduce its volume or harmfulness.
Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP)
WRAP aims to create efficient markets for recycled materials while removing barriers to waste minimisation, reuse and recycling.
Waste Aware Scotland (WAS)
The WAS campaign aims to raise awareness of, and change public attitudes and behaviour towards Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The campaign is delivered at a local level through a range of campaigning activities and in parallel with the implementation phase of the National Waste Plan for Scotland.
Waste Hierarchy
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, or the three Rís, which represent the order in which we should try to deal with waste before disposal. The Waste Hierarchy ranks waste management options in order of sustainability.
Waste Minimisation
The reduction of waste at source, by understanding and changing processes to reduce and prevent waste. Waste minimisation can also include the substitution of less environmentally harmful materials in the production process. Also called process or resource efficiency.
Waste Reduction
See Waste Minimisation.
Waste Strategy Area (WSA)
As part of the National Waste Strategy, Scotlandís thirty-two local authorities were divided into eleven Waste Strategy Areas. Each of these areas has produced an Area Waste Plan that outlines how it will develop more sustainable methods of waste management.
Waste Strategy Area Co-ordinator (WSAC)
Each Watse Strategy Area has a WSAC who is responsible for co-ordinating the work of the Waste Strategy Area Group.
Waste Strategy Area Group (WSAG)
The WSAGs for each of Scotlandís eleven Waste Strategy Areas have overall responsibility for implementing the local Area Waste Plans (AWPs) and meet regularly.
Waste Transfer Station
A plant where materials are sorted, separated, baled and sent on for recycling or disposal. Also called a Materials Reclamation/Recovery Facility.
Windrow Composting
The method of composting that involves piling organic waste outside in long rows (windrows). Suited to producing large volumes of compost.
 
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