Glossary of Terms

Automated Waste Collection Truck – Waste containers are collected with the assistance of a joystick-controlled robotic arm with a claw, used to automatically lift and tip wheeled bins into the truck’s hopper.

C&D – Construction and Demolition

Circular Economy – An industrial economy that promotes greater resource productivity aiming to reduce waste and avoid pollution, and in which material flows are of two types: biological nutrients, designed to reenter the biosphere safely, and technical nutrients, which are designed to circulate at high quality in the production system without entering the biosphere as well as being restorative and regenerative by design. This is in contrast to a Linear Economy which is the current ‘take, make, dispose’ model of production.

Dirty MRF – See Mixed Waste Processing.

Downcycling – The process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of lesser quality and reduced functionality. Not ideal, but better than the landfill.

Eddy Currents – Loops of electrical current used in the recycling process at a MRF to separate out the non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum and copper, from other materials.

EPR – Extended Producer Responsibility

Fast Fashion – Fashion designs that move from the catwalk quickly to the retailer in order to capture current fashion trends. This is causing a great amount of waste and environmental harm. For example, Americans are purchasing five times the amount of clothing than they did in 1980, and the average American household produces 70 pounds of textile waste every year.

Garbology – The study of a community or culture by analyzing its waste.

GHG – Greenhouse Gas

Greenwashing – Disinformation made by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.

Handprinting – The positive impact, converse to foot-printing being the negative impact.

Life Cycle Assessment – A technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life from cradle to grave (i.e., from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling).

MURF or MRF – Materials recovery facility. The place that processes the recycled material and sells it to a buyer based on commodity prices.

Mixed Waste Processing (MWP) – Mixed waste processing involves no generator separation of waste, with all waste processed at what’s been called a “dirty” material recovery facility (MRF). Recyclables are then pulled out at the MRF. It’s another way to collect household recycling, an “all-in-one” method, making it easy for residents.

MSW – Municipal (or mixed) Solid Waste. This means any garbage, refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded materials including solid, liquid, semi-solid, or contained gaseous material.

OCC – Old Corrugated Containers a.k.a. cardboard.

Plastic Lumber – A plastic form of lumber (timber) made of virgin or recycled plastic. It is made of 100% plastic, compared with wood-plastic composite lumber. It’s widely employed in outdoor decking.

Product Stewardship – The act of minimizing the health, safety, environmental, and social impacts of a product and its packaging throughout all lifecycle stages, while also maximizing economic benefits.

Reverse Logistics – Reverse logistics is for all operations related to the reuse of products and materials. It is “the process of moving goods from their typical final destination for the purpose of capturing value, or proper disposal.”

Rubbish – The stuff which cannot be reused or recycled.

Shaker – Person who rides along on a collection route, and physically picks-up and tosses waste into the back of the truck. Also, see “tosser.”

Sustainable Materials Management – A systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles.

Thermoplastics – Softens and melts when you heat them, so it’s possible to reshape them into a new form. When heated, thermoplastic polymer chains become fluid and can slide past each other, which makes it easy to reshape or recycle them.

Thermosets – When the material is heated and cooled, a process called curing occurs that gives them a permanently set shape. Once the thermoset cools and hardens, it cannot be melted again. Instead it will burn (i.e. car tires).

Tosser – Person who rides along on a collection route, and physically picks-up and tosses waste into the back of the truck.

Upcycling – The process of reusing wasted materials (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.

Zero Waste –  To live “zero waste” is to divert 95% of your own rubbish from landfill (the remaining 5% accounts for the unavoidable stuff).