Waste types

Several large trash cansClick to enlarge
The various types of waste are collected in various waste containers

Several large trash cans

Source: Martina Berg / Fotolia.com

Wastes are classified according to their composition and origin, whereby the types of waste comprise (in commen terms) household waste, bulky waste, commercial waste and construction waste.

All wastes are not created equal

Although the aforesaid common terms are also used by waste management experts, waste management necessitates that subtle distinctions be made between the various types of waste. Extensive waste lists and catalogues are used for this purpose. They were developed with the goal of allowing for traceable and differentiated documentation of waste generation, collection, transport recovery and disposal and are thus essential waste-law enforcement instruments.

However, a given substance or object does not necessarily become waste simply by virtue of being assigned a waste code in the relevant waste list; the waste definition of the Waste Management Act (KrWG) must also be met. The determining factor in this regard is whether the owner of a given object or substance disposes of it, wishes to dispose of it, or is required by law to dispose it of. Under German law, a given object or substance is to be regarded as waste insofar as a waste management technique such as sorting, composting, preliminary physicochemical treatment or thermal treatment is either envisaged or necessary for such object or substance.

The various items on waste lists are referred to in waste management and waste disposal law language as waste types, and on each such list are assigned alphanumerical or numerical codes such as B 1010 or 191212. In Germany, these codes are known as Waste (key) code (Abfallschlüsselnummern -ASN).