Post-Consumer Waste

By Tabitha Mishra
Last updated: June 23, 2018

What Does Post-Consumer Waste Mean?

Post-consumer waste is the materials that are left over after a consumer item has been used. It is what remains when a consumer product has completed its intended life cycle and can now be recycled or disposed. For example, a newspaper that is purchased, read, and discarded is considered post-consumer waste.

Post-consumer waste is generally considered domestic or residential waste. As such, it is collected by municipalities.

Safeopedia Explains Post-Consumer Waste

A large amount of post-consumer waste can be recycled, which prevents it from being dumped in landfills. Many municipalities require residents to sort their post-consumer waste so they can collect recyclable materials and non-recyclable materials separately.

Items made from recycled post-consumer waste includes shipping boxes, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and paper.

Collecting, separating, and processing post-consumer waste is more difficult and costly than managing pre-consumer waste. Unfortunately, its impact on the environment is also greater, since its odds of ending up in landfills and oceans is higher. Recycling post-consumer waste can be challenging, however, due to irregularity in the color and grade of the materials, as well as labels, inks, adhesives, and other things that contaminate the material.


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