What is waste management?

Waste management takes a long-term view of the entire waste process. It includes waste collecting, recycling, processing, transporting, disposal, and long-term managing and monitoring of waste.

Waste disposal

Waste disposal looks at waste as a problem. It concerns the plan and actions to remove waste from where you don’t want it, moving it to a place that works better. A waste disposal system may pick up your bagged trash and drive it to the landfill.

What are types of waste disposal?

  • Home pick-up—mixed or sorted waste
  • Business pick-up—mixed or sorted waste
  • Bulk waste removal—when your needs are greater, perhaps you redecorated your office and need both a pile of chairs and e-waste (computers, printers) taken to different places
  • Dumpster service—delivery (and later removal) of a dumpster for large amounts of waste
  • Reuse—washing coffee cups and cloth napkins, sending materials (like good but used refrigerators) to another user
  • Hazardous waste—chemicals, computers, bio-waste, and the like
  • Recycling—physical reprocessing of waste
  • Composting—organic waste made into soil
  • Landfill—the traditional destination for waste

Waste recycling

Waste recycling looks at waste as a resource, as the beginning of another item. It sees a pile of soda bottles and reimagines them as plastic pellets that you can sell to make park benches. Aluminum cans may be washed, crushed, and made into kitchen counters.

Recycling diverts waste from the dump and replaces new materials to create a product people will buy and use. It is greener and more sustainable than simple waste disposal.

Recycling works best for metals, glass, and some plastics. It also includes waste to energy production, like the creation of biogas.

Waste management

Waste management links all these different parts together into a system. Experts work with businesses and identify all the types of waste you produce. They examine your workings and interview your people to get a thorough picture. They make sure you comply with all the relevant laws.

  • Office—paper products, food and drink containers, chemicals from the photocopier, old computers and e-waste
  • Restaurant—food waste, food containers, cleaning chemicals
  • Factory—leftover production materials, paper, general trash

Waste management performs a waste assessment. A team examines each of these items produced and finds the best place for them as well as the best way to collect and deliver the waste. Waste managers also look at the costs and benefits of different ways of disposal. They may save you money by switching your hauling company.

Examples of waste management

For example, look at a restaurant that disposes of fresh food. The first challenge is protecting the food from rats and other visitors and protecting the restaurant from smells until they can collect the old food. This might involve sorting the food into two types—compostable and not. You may store the compostable waste in a lidded container for pick up every second day. You may send the rest back to the major waste stream for disposal.

The restaurant may save money and waste by using glassware rather than paper cups for in-house diners. They may sell their old coffee grounds to a landscaping business or to be made into shoes.

A supermarket’s waste might include recycling and reuse. They collect some milk bottles for washing and reuse. They may collect other cans, bottles, and plastic bags to be recycled as a convenience to their customers. They need a plan for their old and outdated food that might include sending food that’s still good to a food pantry. And that’s just the start.

In each of these cases, the waste solution suits the business that produces the waste. A waste management company focuses on finding and implementing these solutions.

Waste management vs. waste disposal vs. waste recycling: What are their differences or they are the same thing?

While people will often use these terms interchangeably, they are not the same. Waste management is an approach to dealing with all kinds of waste. Waste disposal and recycling are simply two ways that waste can be dealt with.


  • They all deal with waste created by humans
  • They all involve moving waste away from your place of business


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