Waste Recycling Glossary

Pure Planet Recycling’s glossary of waste recycling terminology.

Approved Authorised Treatment Facility, is a recycling facility that has been licensed to treat electrical waste. This type of site can produce evidence notes for the recycling of obligated electrical waste.
Authorised Treatment Facility, is a recycling facility that has been licensed to treat electrical waste. This site operates under a standard waste permit for electrical waste.
Alkaline Batteries
Alkaline batteries are a type of power cell dependent upon the reaction between zinc and manganese. The alkaline battery gets its name because it has an alkaline electrolyte of potassium hydroxide. Alkaline batteries have a higher energy density and longer shelf-life than zinc batteries.
A compacted and bound cube of recycled material. Most commonly cardboard, paper or plastic.
A pressing machine design to bring together loose pieces of cardboard, paper, plastic etc. into a neat and manageable shape. This aids in the transportation and reuse of materials in the recycling industry.
Best Available Treatment Recovery and Recycling Techniques, is the framework that an authorised treatment facility (ATF) must use when treating and recycling waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
Biodegradation is the process by which organic substances are broken down by the enzymes produced by living organisms.
CA Site
Civic Amenity Site. A waste recycling site used by householders to dispose of domestic recyclable materials e.g. Wood, glass, plastic etc.
Cable Recycling
The recycling process for electrical cable and leads.
Carcinogen refers to any substance or radiation that is an agent involved directly in the promotion of cancer or in the facilitation of its propagation.
Cardboard is a generic non-specific term for a heavy duty paper based product.
CD (Compact Disc) is a small disc that contains data accessible by a computer. While the Compact Disc format was originally designed for music storage and playback, the format was later adapted to hold any form of binary data.
The word ceramic is derived from a Greek word. The term covers inorganic and non-metallic materials which are formed by the action of heat. Ceramics are used in many industries including the building trade.
Cess Pit
A cesspit or cesspool is a conservancy tank, or covered cistern which can be used for sewage or refuse.
Chemical Waste
Chemical waste is a waste that is made from or contains harmful chemicals. Chemical waste may fall under regulations such as COSHH (Control of substances hazardous to health). Chemical waste may or may not be classed as hazardous waste.
Clinical Waste
Medical waste, also known as clinical waste, usually refers to waste that cannot be classified as general waste, produced from healthcare premises, such as hospitals and laboratories.
The collection of bagged recyclables together with other general waste, separated later for recycling or disposal.
A commonly used term when referring to a recycling collection of mixed recyclable materials, for example, a council or waste management company that collects recycling materials but does not require segregation of paper, cardboard, plastics etc. prior to collection would be referred to as a commingled collection.
An industrial piece of machinery designed to crush waste and reduce the amount of space taken within a waste receptacle.
A computer is a machine that manipulates data according to a list of instructions. Modern computers are based on tiny integrated circuits and are millions to billions of times more capable while occupying a fraction of the space. Computers are now commonly used throughout the workplace and households.
A corrosive substance is one that will destroy or damage another substance with which it comes in contact. The main hazards to people include damage to eyes, skin and tissue under the skin, but inhalation or ingestion of a corrosive substance can damage the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts.
The cathode ray tube (CRT) is a vacuum tube containing an electron gun and a fluorescent screen, with internal or external means to accelerate and deflect the electron beam, used to form images in the form of light emitted from the fluorescent screen. The image may represent electrical waveforms (oscilloscope), pictures (television, computer monitor).
Data Destruction / Data Wiping
The irreversible removal of data from a media form. This can have many applications and methods, however the goal of removing data is the same.
Data Security
Data security is the means of ensuring that data is kept safe from corruption and that access to it is suitably controlled. It also helps in protecting personal data.
A device used to destroy the magnetic field from a magnetic media storage device. This destroys any data on the device, making its reuse and recovery impossible.
A long container used within the waste / recycling industry for storing waste fluorescent light tubes.
Duty of Care
Duty of care applies to anyone who produces, imports, transports, stores, treats or disposes of controlled waste from business or industry. This means you have a duty to ensure that any waste you produce is handled safely and within the law and current waste regulations.
Also known as “Digital Versatile Disc” or “Digital Video Disc” is a popular optical disc storage media format. Its main uses are video and data storage. Most DVD’s are of the same dimensions as compact discs (CDs) but store more than six times as much data.
Eco Drive Destroyer (EDD), capable of destroying 150 hard drives per hour without the need for electricity, designed and created by Pure Planet Recycling.
Electrical Waste
Electrical waste or “WEEE” is the term used for redundant electrical items that need recycling. Electrical waste is currently the fastest growing waste stream in the UK.
Energy From Waste
The process of creating energy in the form of electricity or heat from the incineration of waste materials.
Fax Machine
Fax (short for facsimile) is a telecommunications technology used to transfer copies (facsimiles) of documents, especially using affordable devices operating over the telephone network.
FEL or Front End Loader is a waste collection vehicle that picks up waste containers and empties them into the vehicle using forks and tipping the container over the front of the vehicle.
Ferrous Metal
Ferrous is an adjective used to indicate the presence of iron. Ferrous metals include steel and pig iron (which contain a few percent of carbon) and alloys of iron with other metals (such as stainless steel).
Fluorescent Light Tube
A fluorescent lamp or fluorescent tube is a gas-discharge lamp that uses electricity to excite mercury vapour in argon or neon gas, resulting in a plasma that produces short-wave ultraviolet light. This light then causes a phosphor to fluoresce, producing visible light.
Fly Tipping
Fly tipping or dumping is a British term for illegally dumping waste somewhere other than an authorized landfill. It is the illegal deposit of any waste onto land, i.e., waste dumped or tipped on a site with no licence to accept waste.
Food Waste
Food waste or kitchen waste is any form of waste derived from food materials. It typically consists of vegetable peelings, meat scraps, excess or spoiled prepared food, and other discards from domestic or commercial kitchens.
A refrigerator is a cooling appliance comprising of a thermally insulated compartment and a mechanism to transfer heat from it to the external environment, cooling the contents to a temperature below ambient. Refrigerators are extensively used to store foods which deteriorate at ambient temperatures; spoilage from bacterial growth and other processes is much slower at low temperatures.
General Waste
The term used for mixed waste comprising of various waste streams that haven’t been segregated or sorted into recyclable materials.
Glass is an amorphous solid that has been around in various forms for many years. Glass is formed by a super-cooled liquid giving it a rigid and static form. Glass is one the most versatile substances.
Green Energy
Energy that is produced from a non polluting source such as wind turbines or solar panels.
Hard Drive
A hard disk drive (HDD), commonly referred to as a hard drive, hard disk, or fixed disk drive is a non-volatile storage device which stores digitally encoded data.
Hazardous Waste
The term hazardous waste comprises of all toxic chemicals, radioactive, biologic or infectious waste. These materials can be harmful through occupational exposure and the general public in their homes, communities, and general environment.
Hazardous Waste Regulations
These are regulations enforced by the environment agency throughout England and Wales and were brought into force in 2005 with the purpose of providing an effective system of control for hazardous wastes and to ensure that they are soundly managed from their point of production to their final destination for disposal or recovery.
High Density Polyethylene – HDPE is commonly used for Milk bottles, bleach, cleaners and most shampoo bottles.
Horizontal Baler
Industrial balers are typically used to compact similar types of waste, such as office paper, cardboard, plastic, foil and cans, for sale to recycling companies. Balers are made of steel with a hydraulic ram to compress the material.
Incineration is a waste treatment technology that involves the combustion of organic materials and substances. Incineration and other high temperature waste systems are described as “thermal treatment”. Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into incinerator bottom ash, flue gases, particulates, and heat, which can in turn be used to generate electric power.
Industrial Water Waste Treatment
Industrial wastewater treatment covers the mechanisms and processes used to treat waters that have been contaminated in some way by anthropogenic industrial or commercial activities prior to its release into the environment or its re-use.
A landfill, also known as a dump or tip is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burying waste into the ground. The number of landfill sites within the UK is reducing all the time as other alternative methods of disposal and recycling come into force backed by government legislation.
Landfill Directive
The Landfill Directive has been put in place to help drive waste up the hierarchy through increased levels of recycling and recovery. The overall aim is to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment.
Landfill Tax
Landfill Tax is an environmental tax paid on top of normal landfill rates. It is intended to encourage alternative means of waste disposal, such as recycling and other forms of waste treatment.
Large Domestic Appliance – A term used to describe large electrical waste items from the home such as fridges, freezers, washing machines etc.
Low Density Polyethylene – LDPE is commonly used for Carrier bags, bin liners and packaging films.
Lead Acid Batteries
Lead-acid batteries are the oldest type of rechargeable battery. Despite having low energy-to-weight ratio and a correspondingly low energy-to-volume ratio, their ability to supply high surge currents means that the cells maintain a relatively large power-to-weight ratio.
Lithium Ion Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are a type of rechargeable battery in which a lithium ion moves from the anode to the cathode during discharge and from the cathode to the anode when charging. Lithium ion batteries are commonly used in consumer electronics. They are currently one of the most popular types of battery for portable electronics.
A magazine is a paper based periodical publication containing a variety of articles, generally financed by advertising, purchased by readers, or both.
Mobile Phones
The mobile phone is a short-range, portable electronic device used for mobile voice or data communication over a network of specialised base stations and satellites.
A materials recovery facility or materials reclamation facility is a specialised recycling plant that receives, separates and prepares recyclable materials for marketing to end-user manufacturers.
A newspaper is a paper based publication containing news, information and advertising. Newspapers are usually printed on low-cost recycled paper.
Nickel Cadmium Batteries
The nickel-cadmium battery (NiCad) is a popular type of rechargeable battery using nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium as electrodes. Their small size and high rate discharge capacity made nickel cadmium a practical choice for portable power tools.
Non Ferrous Metal
The term non-ferrous is used to indicate metals other than iron and alloys that do not contain an appreciable amount of iron.
Packaging is the term used for the material or method of packing a shipment that provides appropriate protection during transportation.
Pallet Crate
A pallet crate is a container either made from wood or plastic with runners at the underside of the container to allow it to be easily moved by a fork lift truck or pallet truck.
Paper is a product of thin material made of cellulose pulp derived mainly from wood. Paper is primarily used for writing, printing, drawing, covering walls and wrapping.
A printed circuit board, or PCB, is used to mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive pathways, traces, which are etched from copper sheets and laminated onto a non-conductive board.
A peripheral is a piece of computer hardware that is added to a host computer or a device that is hooked up externally to a computer via a port such as a USB port. Typical examples include joysticks, printers and scanners, mice and keyboards.
Polyethylene Terephthalate – PET is commonly used for Fizzy drink containers, water bottles and salad trays.
A photocopier is a machine that makes paper copies of documents and other visual images quickly and cheaply. Most current photocopiers now use a technology called xerography which is a dry process using heat.
Plasterboard is also commonly known as gypsum board, and wallboard. A plasterboard panel is made of a paper liner wrapped around an inner core made primarily from gypsum plaster. Plasterboard recycling is becoming more and more common as recycling centres are opening specifically for the purpose.
Plastic Cups
Plastic cups are commonly used around the workplace and at home as a vessel to drink from. There are various types of plastic used to make the cups and there are recycling facilities that can now recycle most plastic cups.
Polypropylene – PP is commonly used for Margarine tubs, microwaveable meal trays it is also produced as fibres and filaments for carpets, wall coverings and vehicle upholstery.
Pre-treatment is a new requirement of the Landfill Regulations which have now come into force, this now means that no waste is be able to be disposed of to landfill unless it can be demonstrated to have undergone a treatment process to change the physical mass of the waste.
A computer printer is a computer peripheral which produces a hard copy of documents stored in electronic form, usually printed on physical print media such as paper or transparencies.
Printer Cartridges
A printer cartridge is a replaceable component that provides ink or toner for the physical image on the paper or surface to be printed on.
PRN is the abbreviated term for a packaging waste recovery note. PRNs provide the evidence that businesses need to prove they have met the producer responsibility requirements of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulations in terms of quantities recycled.
Project Management
Project Management is the discipline of planning, organizing, and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives.
Polystyrene – PS is commonly used for Yogurt pots, foam food boxes and egg cartons, plastic cutlery, protective packaging for electronic goods and toys.
Polyvinyl Chloride – PVC is commonly used for pipes, fittings, window and door frames and automotive parts.
Random access memory is a type of computer data storage. Nowadays it takes the form of integrated circuits that allow the stored data to be accessed in any order, i.e. at random. The word random thus refers to the fact that any piece of data can be returned in a constant time, regardless of its physical location and whether or not it is related to the previous piece of data.
A rebate is an amount paid by way of reduction, return, or refund on what has already been paid or contributed.
Recovery is a term commonly used within the waste/recycling industry as a way of diversion from disposal or landfill.
Recyclables is term for a quantity of recyclable materials.
Recycling is the reprocessing of old materials into new products, with the aims of preventing the waste of potentially useful resources., reducing the consumption of fresh raw materials, reducing energy usage, reducing air and water pollution by reducing the need for “conventional” waste disposal, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production.
An REL or Rear End Loader is a type of vehicle used for collecting waste by emptying the containers into the vehicle by tipping the container over the rear of the vehicle.
Reuse is a term for using an item more than once. This includes conventional reuse where the item is used again for the same function, and new-life reuse where it is used for a new function.
Roll on Off
Rollonoff or roro is a term used for a large skip vehicle that uses rollers to roll on and off the containers rather than lifting them on and off. Rollonoff containers come in different sizes and shapes.
Small Domestic Appliance – a term used when describing smaller items of electrical waste produced by a household. Items such as hair dryers, kettles, irons etc. are examples of SDA.
In information technology, a server is an application or device that performs services for connected clients as part of a client-server architecture. Server computers are devices designed to run such an application or applications, often for extended periods of time with minimal human direction and maintenance.
Piece of machinery that reduces all manner of materials, e.g. paper, plastics, metals etc. into smaller strips of material. Often used in the recycling industry to prepare a material for the remanufacture stage, and to increase the amount of material stored in a container prior to movement.
A skip is a large container designed for loading onto a special type of lorry. Skips are commonly used to hold open topped loads of construction and demolition waste or other waste types.
Telecommunication is the assisted transmission of signals over a distance for the purpose of communication. In earlier times, this may have involved the use of smoke signals, drums, semaphore, flags, or heliograph. In modern times, telecommunication typically involves the use of electronic transmitters such as the telephone, television, radio or computer.
A textile is a flexible material comprised of a network of natural or artificial fibres often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw wool fibres, linen, cotton, or other material on a spinning wheel to produce long strands known as yarn. Textiles are formed by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting, or pressing fibres together.
Tin Cans
A tin can, also called a tin or a can, is an air-tight container for the distribution or storage of goods, composed of thin metal, and requiring cutting or tearing of the metal as the means of opening. Cans hold diverse contents, but the overwhelming majority preserve food by canning.
Total Waste Management
The total management of a site or companies waste they produce.
Toxicity is the degree to which something is able to produce illness or damage to an exposed organism. Toxicity can refer to the effect on a whole organism, such as a human or a bacterium or a plant, or to a substructure, such as a cell or an organ.
Transfer Station
A transfer station is a building for the temporary deposition of some wastes. Transfer stations are often used as places where local waste collection vehicles will deposit their waste cargo prior to loading into larger vehicles. These larger vehicles will transport the waste to the end point of disposal or treatment.
Treatment Plant
A waste treatment plant is a facility used to treat waste before end disposal whether it be incineration or landfill.
A TRV or Trade Refuse Vehicle is a type of vehicle used for collecting waste by emptying wheelie bin containers into the vehicle by tipping the container into the back of the vehicle.
An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), also known as an Uninterruptible Power Source, Uninterruptible Power System, Continuous Power Supply (CPS) or a battery backup is a device which maintains a continuous supply of electric power to connected equipment by supplying power from a separate source when utility power is not available.
Vertical Baler
A baler is used to bale material of the same kind together using twine. A ram is used to compact the material before baling.
Waste is an unwanted or undesired material or substance. It is also referred to as rubbish or junk depending upon the type of material and the regional terminology.
Waste Audit
An audit on site to see the waste stream a company produces to maximise recycling rates and service levels.
Waste Consignment Note
A legal document which forms part of the duty of care which dictates where the waste is collected from, the waste carrier used and the final destination of the waste or material.
Waste Hierarchy
A framework of options for managing wastes. It gives top priority to preventing waste in the first place, when waste is created, it gives priority to preparing it for re-use, then recycling, then other recovery such as energy recovery, and last of all disposal. For a visual representation please see our waste hierarchy infographic.
Electronic waste, e-waste or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is a waste type consisting of any broken or unwanted electrical or electronic appliance.
WEEE Crate
A storage crate to store WEEE in prior to collection.
WEEE Directive
A European directive which was bought in July 2007 to govern and manage the safe route for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
Weighbridge’s are large, floor mounted weighing systems that can weigh entire vehicles and their contents.
Wheelie Bin
A wheelie bin is a type of waste container and is made in several different colours, shapes and sizes.
White Goods
A term used to describe domestic appliance often found on the kitchen area such as fridge freezers, washing machines or ovens.
Wood is hard, fibrous, lignified structural tissue produced in the stems of trees but also shrubs. This tissue conducts water to the leaves and other growing tissues and has a support function, enabling plants to reach large sizes. Wood may also refer to other plant materials and tissues with comparable properties.
Waste and Resources Action Programme is a UK based non-profit recycling advocate.
Zinc Batteries
Zinc batteries are a type of power cell which contain an acidic electrolyte they are the same nominal voltages and physical size of an alkaline batteries. The batteries are packaged in a zinc can that serves as both a container and anode.