ALERT Learn More | NASP Certification Program: The Path to Success Has Many Routes. Choose Yours


Last updated: January 12, 2017

What Does Refuse Mean?

Refuse is the unusable byproduct that remains once a product has been used. It often refers to municipal or household waste material that cannot be reused and will instead be disposed and sent to a landfill.

Refuse is also known as waste, trash, or garbage.

Safeopedia Explains Refuse

Refuse is an inevitable byproduct of most processes, including cooking, manufacturing, and construction. In the past, most refuse was biodegradable or reusable. With the advent of plastics and alloys, however, many waste products last long after they are discarded or must undergo processing before they can be reused. Advancements in technology have also introduced biomedical and hazardous waste into the waste stream, making recovery and reclamation even more challenging.

Categories of Solid Waste

Refuse, or waste, can either be solid or liquid. Solid waste can be classified into four major categories:

  • Municipal solid waste generated in homes, offices, schools, and shops - major components include food waste, paper, plastic, metal, glass, and rags
  • Industrial solid waste, including paper, packaging material, processed food waste, resins, oils, paints, solvents, abrasives, stones, and ceramics
  • Agricultural waste and residues, including livestock waste, crop residues, and agro-industrial byproducts
  • Hazardous waste, including waste that is corrosive, reactive, toxic, or at risk of igniting, such as batteries, chemicals, and aerosol cans

Other Types of Refuse

  • Household waste, including cooking fat, kitchen scraps, cleaning liquids, and wastewater
  • Hazardous waste, including dangerous chemicals that may be found in the home
  • Construction waste, which encompasses a wide range of bulky and heavy materials such as tiles, plaster, bricks, pipes, and lumber
  • Electrical or electronic waste, including computers, phones, televisions, and printers - some of which can contain toxic metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium
  • Medical waste, including bandages, needles, gloves, gowns, and items that have become contaminated by blood and body fluids
  • Recyclable waste that can be converted into reusable materials, such as paper, metal, glass, cardboard, and certain types of food and beverage containers
  • Organic waste that will break down and biodegrade naturally, such as vegetable scraps, bread, grass, and weeds


waste, trash, garbage

Share this Term

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

Related Reading


EnvironmentalEHS Programs

Trending Articles

Go back to top