Aerobic Decomposition – Degradation of organic matter by microorganisms, requiring oxygen.

Anaerobic Decomposition – Degradation of organic matter by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen.

Biochar - A charcoal used as a soil amendment that is stable, rich in carbon, and can remain in soil for many years. Biochar can increase agricultural productivity and mitigate climate change.

Biodegradable – Capable of decaying by biological means into elements found in nature when conditions allow decomposition. Companies will often use this term for marketing purposes, although proper disposal methods are not always available.

C&D – Construction and demolition debris, waste from the demolition of buildings, roads and other structures.

C&D Processing – Processing materials from mixed loads of C&D debris for reuse, recycling and/or composting.

CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) – Nontoxic, nonflammable chemicals containing atoms of carbon, chlorine, hydrogen, fluorine and Freon. CFCs rise into the upper atmosphere, where UV rays from the sun cause them to release free chlorine. This chlorine reacts with oxygen and leads to ozone depletion.

Carbon Footprint – The total amount of GHG produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide.

Circular Economy – A framework for an economy that is sustainable by design. An alternative economic model that challenges the linear system in which materials are directed from conception to disposal.

Commingled Recycling – A method for recycling collection in which all types of recyclable materials are collected in the same container for pick-up and transport to a Materials Recovery Facility, commonly referred to as a Recycling Center.

Commodity – A raw material that can be bought and sold.

Composting – The processing of decomposed organic material into a nutrient-rich fertilizer that creates a healthy growing environment for plants.

Conservation – The wise and efficient use of natural resources to preserve the environment.

Contamination (Recycling) – When care isn’t taken to remove residue from recyclables, thus decreasing the value of those commodities.

Corrugated Cardboard – A sturdy paperboard made of three layers of parallel and alternating ridges and grooves, used to make shipping boxes.

Cullet – Glass that has been crushed and prepared to make into new glass.

Daily Cover – A regulatory requirement in which solid waste at a landfill must be covered at the end of each operating day with a compacted layer of soil or an approved alternate cover.

Decomposer – An organism that breaks down organic material, such as bacteria, fungi and invertebrates.

Decomposition – The process of decaying or rotting.

Deconstruction – Salvaging reusable materials to conserve resources and landfill space, when dismantling buildings.

Design for the Environment (DfE) – An attempt to reduce the impact of product design upon the environment of a product or service, taking into account the whole life cycle including materials extraction, production, distribution, use and end of life.

Dematerialization – Reducing the total material and energy that goes toward providing benefits to customers, through greater efficiency, the use of better or more appropriate materials, or by creating a service that produces the same benefit as a product.

End Markets - Mills, manufacturers and other facilities, which acquire recyclable materials for conversion to new products or raw materials.

Energy – The capacity for doing work. Power obtained from the use of physical or chemical resources.

Ferrous Metal – Metal that contains iron making it magnetic and with little resistance to corrosion.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) – Gases that interfere with the sunlight’s radiation, absorbing and holding radiation, thus keeping it from escaping. GHGs are produced by natural processes, and man-made processes. The burning of fossil fuels elevates GHG in the atmosphere. CO2 absorption has been reduced by deforestation.

Hazardous Waste – Waste with properties that make it dangerous or capable of having a harmful effect on human health or the environment.

Hierarchy – A ranking system according to relative importance.

Industrial Waste – Nonhazardous wastes discarded at industrial sides from packaging and administrative sources. (Excludes industrial process wastes from manufacturing operations.)

Integrated Solid Waste Management – The complementary use of a variety of practices to handle municipal solid waste safely and effectively. Integrated waste management techniques include source reduction, recycling, composting, combustion, and landfilling.

Landfill – A government-regulated waste disposal system in which large amounts of trash are compacted, buried, and covered daily. The height of the landfill rises as more waste is added. Leachate – Water that has percolated through waste in the landfill. The composition varies depending on the age and type of waste in the landfill.

Life Cycle – The ongoing process of the life of natural and unnatural products from beginning to end.

MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) – Trash or garbage consisting of everyday items discarded by the public.

Manifest – A form for tracking waste from generation, to transport, storage and disposal. Manifests contain vital information on the type and quantity of waste and instructions for handling the waste.

Materials Exchange – A network that seeks to identify end-users for waste materials and products discarded by others.

Mineral – A naturally occurring substance, often found in rocks, formed through geological processes.

MRF, Clean (Materials Recovery Facility) – Receives, separates, and prepares recyclables for marketing to end-used manufacturers.

MRF, Dirty (Materials Recovery Facility) – Receives, separates, and recovers recyclables from a mixed waste stream, with non-recyclables transported to a landfill.

Mulch – Material made of finely-chopped wood to help build healthy soil, conserve water, control weeds and reduce pesticide use.

Natural Resource – A material, organism or element that is naturally occurring and harvested and used by humans for food, energy, manufacturing or other purposes.

Non-Ferrous Metals – Non-ferrous metals include aluminum, brass, copper, nickel, tin, lead, and zinc, as well as precious metals like gold and silver.

Non-Renewable Resources – Minerals or sources of energy that can be mined or collected from the Earth, such as coal, petroleum, iron ore, etc.

Organics Processing – A process in which high-quality compost products are created from commercial and residential food, leaf and yard waste.

PCBs – A family of industrial compounds produced by the chlorination of biphenyl. Most PCB use was banned in 1971, as PCBs are environmental pollutants that build up in animal tissue and can affect the immune, endocrine and reproductive systems. PCBs must be managed as hazardous waste.

Post-Consumer Waste – Used consumer items that have been collected for recycling from homes and businesses with the intent to make these materials into new products.

Pre-Consumer Waste – Materials made during manufacturing (like trimmings and overruns) that can be used in the manufacture of new products.

Product Stewardship – Assumed responsibility for the environmental impacts of a product throughout its lifetime, by those who’ve designed, produced, sold or used it.

Recycle – The process of collecting and processing materials to be made into new products instead of disposing of them in a landfill.

Recycled Content – A portion of a consumer product made from diverted (recycled) materials.

Reduce – A method promoted to prevent excess waste disposal and energy consumption. To reduce means to avoid creating waste in the first place.

Renewable Resources - Sources of energy that can be replenished naturally on a human timescale.

Reuse – Another method encouraged as a way to prevent excess consumption of materials and energy. Examples of reuse include donation, buying in bulk, repair, and the sharing of items.

Source/Waste Reduction – Preventing waste at the source, such as reusing quality items or repairing items to save them from disposal.

Sustainability – The endurance of systems and processes, to allow humans and nature to exist in productive harmony, supporting present and future generations.

Tipping Fee – The cost charged to waste disposal haulers and citizens for dropping off waste at a landfill or transfer station, usually charged by the ton.

Transfer Station – A facility that receives waste to be collected and compiled for transfer to another waste facility.

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) – Chemicals that are released into the air from solid and liquid products, that participate in the formation of ozone, evaporate easily at room temperature, and often have a recognizable odor. (Ex: benzene, chloroform, methyl, ethyl, etc.)

Waste-to-Energy – process of generating energy in the form of electricity and/or heat from techniques such as landfill gas recovery, anaerobic digestion, and combustion of waste.

Yard Waste – Grass, leaves, plant clippings, and garden waste.

Yard Waste Processing – Yard waste is source separated and composted through a natural process that converts the organic material into a rich, stable, soil amendment.