Glossary

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Asbestos

A fibrous material, used in making products such as pipe insulation, roofing shingles, automotive brake pads and gaskets, and fireproof articles, among others. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis or lung cancer. In 1971, the Environmental Protection Agency identified asbestos as a hazardous air pollutant. All activities involving the processing, handling and disposal of asbestos-containing products are regulated by federal, state and local authorities.

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Ballast

Used in fluorescent and High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps; comprised of a transformer (often containing PCBs, a hazardous substance) and magnetic coil that controls the flow of current within the lamp and provides the required starting voltage; must be managed as a hazardous waste if it contains PCBs.

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Biodegradable

Capable of being decomposed by organic processes into elements found in nature when under conditions that allow decomposition. The term may be used in marketing products, sometimes without relevance to whether available disposal methods will allow decomposition.

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Cathode Ray Tube (CRT)

A specialized vacuum tube in which images are produced when an electron beam strikes a phosphorescent surface; typically found in televisions, video and computer monitors, medical and other specialty visual display equipment. Depending on size, each CRT contains 5 to 8 pounds of the heavy metal lead (a hazardous substance) and must be managed as a hazardous waste.

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Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

A family of chemical compounds including carbon, hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine and Freon; some of which are volatile, nontoxic and easily liquefied; typically used in refrigeration, air conditioning, packaging and insulation, or as solvents and aerosol propellants. CFCs are not destroyed in the lower atmosphere and rise readily into the upper layers, where their chlorine components destroy the earth's protective ozone layer. The U.S. EPA banned the sale of CFCs as aerosol propellants and many other applications in 1993.

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Commingled Recycling

A mixture of several recyclables in one container, as opposed to collecting and storing each material type separately; does not refer to collecting garbage and recyclables together.

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Composting

The microbial process that breaks down organic waste into a humus-like soil amendment.

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Construction Waste

Waste building materials, packaging and rubble resulting from construction, remodeling and repair of buildings and roads.

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Contamination (of recyclable materials)

Inadequate sorting of recyclable materials that interferes with the clean processing of recyclables. For example, a single ceramic coffee mug can cause a ten-ton load of glass bottles to be rejected by the end market; or contamination of office paper can occur if food, carbon paper, metal cans - essentially, any non-paper item - is added to the load.

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Corrugated Cardboard

A sturdy three-layer paper board shaped into parallel and alternating ridges and grooves; used in the manufacture of most shipping boxes.

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Creosote

An oily liquid obtained from coal tar used primarily as a wood preservative.

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Deconstruction

Dismantling buildings and salvaging reusable materials to conserve resources and landfill space.

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Demolition Debris

Waste resulting from the demolition of buildings, roads and other structures.

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Design for the Environment (DfE)

DfE concepts consider potential environmental impacts of a product throughout its life. By integrating environmental considerations into the product design, a company can increase resource efficiency and reduce costs of development, manufacture and use.

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Disposal Facility

A waste facility permitted by the agency that is designed or operated for the purpose of disposing of waste on or in the land, together with any appurtenant facilities needed to process waste for disposal or transfer to another waste facility. (see Minnesota Statutes §115A.03, Subd. 10).

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End Markets

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

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Environmentally Friendly or Preferred

Products or materials that have little or no adverse effect on the environment. Also referred to as "green" or "environmentally responsible," the term is sometimes misused in product marketing to differentiate between alternatives that pose varying threats to the environment.

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Ferrous

A metallic material containing iron that is generally magnetic (e.g., cast iron, iron, steel, tin and stainless steel).

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Hazardous Waste

Discarded solid, liquid or gaseous material that has the potential to harm humans or the environment and requires special management. Minnesota Statutes §116.06, Subd. 11 defines hazardous waste as "any refuse, sludge, or other waste materials or combinations or refuse, sludge or other waste materials in solid, semisolid, liquid, or contained gaseous form which because of its quantity, concentration, or chemical, physical, or infectious characteristics may (a) cause or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible illness; or (b) pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of, or otherwise managed. Categories of hazardous waste materials include, but are not limited to: explosives, flammables, oxidizers, poisons, irritants and corrosives. Hazardous waste does not include source, special nuclear or by-product material as defined by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended."

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Industrial Waste

Minnesota Rules 7035.0300, Subp. 45 defines industrial waste as "All solid waste generated from an industrial or manufacturing process and solid waste generated from non-manufacturing activities, such as service and commercial establishments. Industrial solid waste does not include office materials, restaurant and food preparation waste, discarded machinery, demolition debris, municipal solid waste combustor ash or household refuse."

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Infectious/Medical Waste

Waste such as medical sharps and contaminated pathological or laboratory wastes that have the potential for causing infection and disease; also referred to as "red bag" or biohazardous waste, but distinct from standard hazardous waste; requires special disposal (see Minnesota Statutes §116.76, Subd.12).

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Integrated Waste Management

A solid waste management system that uses a combination of methods, including waste prevention, reuse, recycling, composting of yard waste and food waste, resource recovery through mixed municipal solid waste composting or incineration for energy recovery, and land disposal, in that order of preference.

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Landfill/Land Disposal Facility

An in-ground facility for the disposal of waste; mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills are regulated and are required to have liners, leachate collection systems, monitoring wells and daily cover.

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Manifest

A specialized shipping paper designed to track waste shipments from the generator site to the disposal location.

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Manufacturers' Waste

Scrap, trimmings and overruns generated from manufacturing processes; generally very clean; used for decades to make new products.

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Materials Recovery Facility

A facility where recyclables are aggregated, sorted into specific categories and processed (e.g., baled), or transported to processors, for remanufacturing.

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Materials Exchange

A network that seeks to identify end-users for waste materials and products discarded by others; matches needs and provides referrals.

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Mercury

A silvery-white poisonous metallic element (heavy metal) that is used in thermometers, barometers, vapor lamps, batteries and other products; extremely mobile and toxic when released into the environment; must be managed as a hazardous waste or recycled.

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Minimum Content Standards

Established guidelines or rules regarding the minimum quantity of recycled waste material that a product must contain in order to be considered recycled. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established voluntary guidelines for paper products; and the federal Trade Commission drafted industry standards for marketing claims related to recycled content products.

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Minimum Impact Paper

Paper which has 100%, or very high, recycled content, is not bleached during its production, and is acid free; reduces air and water pollution associated with the pulp bleaching processes.

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Municipal (or Mixed Municipal) Solid Waste (MSW)

Garbage, refuse and other solid waste from residential, commercial, industrial and community activities that the generator of the waste aggregates for collection; does not include auto hulks, street sweepings, ash, construction debris, mining waste, sludges, tree and agricultural wastes, tires, lead-acid batteries, automotive fluids and filters, and other materials collected, processed and disposed of as separate waste streams (see Minnesota Statutes §115A.03, Subd. 21).

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Non-ferrous Metals

A metallic material that does not contain iron and is not magnetic (e.g., brass, bronze, copper, gold, lead, nickel, silver and aluminum).

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Office Paper, High Grade

A standard for sorting recyclable paper. High grade includes white and pastel bond typing, computer, copy or stationery-quality paper, plain white envelopes, and index cards. Paper must be free of labels, stickers, cellophane windows, tape or attached plastic items. Unacceptable items include carbon, tracing, glossy, or coated paper as well as paper towels, tissue waste or food packaging.

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Office Paper, Mixed Grade

A standard for sorting recyclable paper. Mixed grade includes high grade (white and colored) paper as well as envelopes that may have labels, stickers, and cellophane; glossy paper, "junk mail," manila envelopes and file folders are often acceptable. Unacceptable items include carbon paper, paper towels, tissue, food packaging or plastic items attached to materials.

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Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

A family of industrial compounds produced by the chlorination of biphenyl. Before 1974, PCBs were used in a variety of products including capacitors, transformers, plasticizers, surface coatings, inks and adhesives, among others. After 1974, use of PCBs was restricted to the production of capacitors and transformers, and in 1979, most PCB use was banned. PCBs are persistent environmental pollutants, which accumulate in animal tissue with resultant pathogenic effects, and must be managed as hazardous waste.

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Pollution Prevention

An activity that eliminates or reduces the generation of hazardous waste or the release of hazardous or toxic substances into the environment (see Minnesota Statutes §115D.03, Subd. 8).

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Post-Consumer Waste

Discarded used consumer items collected for recycling from homes and businesses with the intention of incorporating these materials into new products.

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Pre-Consumer Waste

Materials generated during manufacturing, such as damaged or obsolete products, overruns and trimmings; materials can be incorporated into the manufacture of new products; does not include materials commonly reused in the original manufacturing process.

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Problem Material

Materials that, when processed or disposed of with mixed municipal solid waste, contribute to one of the following results: 1) the release of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant; 2) water pollution; 3) air pollution; or 4) a significant threat to the safe or efficient operation of a solid waste processing facility (see Minnesota Statutes §115A.03, Subd. 24a).

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Product Stewardship

All parties who have a role in designing, producing, selling, or using a product shall assume responsibility for the environmental impacts of a product throughout its life.

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Recoverable Resources/Materials

Materials that can be diverted from the waste stream because they offer marketable reuse in their present form, or offer marketable use as a raw material in a recycling process.

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Recyclable Materials

Materials that can be readily separated from the waste stream and collected for use as a substitute for new "virgin" raw materials in manufacturing.

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Recycled Content

The portion of a product that is made from recycled materials diverted from the waste stream; usually stated as a percentage by weight (see minimum content standards).

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Recycled Product

A product made exclusively, or in part, from materials diverted from the waste stream (see recycled content and minimum content standards).

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Redemption Center

A recycling center where consumers can redeem recoverable materials for cash.

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Render

To reduce, convert or melt down (e.g., fat) by heating.

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Resource Recovery Facility

A facility that processes waste materials for recycling, reuse or use in a waste-to-energy facility.

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Reusables

Products or materials that, after serving their original function, can be used again in their present form; some are designed to be reused again and again, while others not specifically designed for reuse are used creatively to fill a need.

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Sorbent

A material (e.g., pads, towels, rags and socks) that absorbs or adsorbs substances such as automotive and equipment fluids and solvents used during manufacturing and maintenance processes.

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Source/Waste Reduction

An activity that prevents waste at its source, which includes reducing the amount and/or toxicity of material used; reuse of a product in its original form; and use of repairable, refillable or durable products that result in a longer useful life.

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Source Separation

Separation of recyclables or compostable materials by the waste generator prior to collection.

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Sustainable Development

Development that maintains or enhances economic opportunity and community well-being without depleting or damaging natural resources; meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

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Tipping Fee

A per-ton fee charged to haulers and citizens for waste delivered to a waste management facility such as a landfill or incinerator.

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Transfer Station

An intermediate waste facility in which waste collected from any source is temporarily deposited to await transfer to another waste facility.

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Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Chemicals such as benzene, chloroform, methyl ethyl ketone and other chlorinated hydrocarbons that participate in the formation of ozone; evaporate easily (volatile) at room temperature and often have a recognizable odor; are emitted from transportation and industrial sources, such as automobile exhaust, gasoline/oil storage and transfer, chemical manufacturing, dry cleaners, paint shops and other facilities using solvents.

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Waste Prevention

See Source/waste reduction.

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Yard Waste

Clippings, garden waste, leaves, prunings, shrub and tree waste, and weeds (see Minnesota Statutes §115A.03,Subd. 38); soft-bodied yard waste used to make mulch or compost, or land spread to condition soil; shrub and tree waste can be chipped for mulch, burned as fuel, or used for other purposes (e.g., firewood and saw-logs).

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