Definition of Waste Disposal

Waste disposal is a blanket term for collecting, processing or recycling waste materials. As there are many different forms of waste, there also different forms of collecting and processing waste.

Urban recycling waste and garbage services
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Definition of Waste Disposal

Solid Waste

Solid waste refers to general household waste. The items you put out for regular garbage pickup are solid waste. One way to eliminate waste after collection is by depositing it in a landfill. However, this isn't ideal. Landfills contribute to both water and air pollution. They create an eyesore and release toxic gases into the atmosphere. Besides, there isn't enough land available to continue to dump waste.

Incineration is an alternative to landfill. The waste is burned at high temperatures, reducing the volume of the waste. Even though incineration reduces landfill, it still releases toxic air into the environment.

Electronic Waste

Electronic waste refers to televisions, computers and cell phones. Since they don't break down in an organic manner, they're harder to dispose of. Electronics contain lead and mercury, which release toxins into the air and water.

Certified e-waste recyclers dispose of electronic items in a manner that's safe. They'll break down the electronics and dispose of the different components. They can recycle or repair items that are good enough to use again. You can do a web search or contact your local recycling center for e-waste recyclers.

Hazardous Waste

Certain household items are too hazardous to dispose of during regular trash collection. Items like batteries, paint, motor oil and certain cleaners contain dangerous chemicals. Flammable, corrosive, toxic or explosive materials are hazardous waste. To dispose of these items via landfill or incineration is harmful and irresponsible. A licensed professional must handle disposal of these products. Check with your local municipality for hazardous waste removal experts in your area.

Medical Waste

Garbage items that come from hospitals, medical centers and laboratories are medical waste. Syringes, used bandages, body fluids and medications are potential biohazards. Medical waste requires special handling. Every business that produces medical waste follows specific regulations for its disposal. This includes hiring professionals to remove waste in a manner that's safe for everyone.

Organic Waste

Organic waste refers to items that break down and provide nutrients to the soil. Fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grinds and tree branches are examples of organic waste. Many people are choosing to recycle organic waste instead of throwing it away. When you compost organic waste, you turn it into nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer. Flowers bloom brighter and vegetables grow bigger when you mix soil and compost.


It's mandatory to recycle in most municipalities in the United States. Items like aluminum cans and glass bottles can be reused or broken down for a different use. Recycling helps to reduce landfill and pollution. Check your municipality's website for information on which items require recycling.

Deborah Ng

Deborah Ng

Deb Ng is a freelance writer and published author with over 17 years of experience in creating content for the web. Prior to her freelance career, she worked for over 12 years in traditional (print) publishing. In her spare time, Deb is an avid gardener who loves nothing more than bringing flowers and vegetables to life. She doesn't have as much time to spend outside as she'd like, however, because she's also assisting her husband with the DIY projects needed to complete their family home. See Deb's gardening and home improvement articles at LoveToKnow, Wisegeek, and Alloy.