Trash Goes To School
Cornell Waste Management Institute
AEROBIC: Occurring or living in the presence of oxygen.
ANAEROBIC: Occurring or living without oxygen.
AQUIFER: A geologic formation from which groundwater can be obtained.
BAUXITE ORE: Mineral from which aluminum is made.
BIODEGRADABLE: The ability of a substance to be changed into simpler, usually harmless, substances by the action of microorganisms.
BOTTOM ASH: Solid residual which remains after burning. Found in the bottom of an incinerator.
CARCINOGEN: A chemical or substance capable of causing cancer.
COMPOSTING: The process of collecting organic materials such as lawn clippings, leaves, kitchen scraps and manure to be layered so as to decompose into fertile humus. When organic matter is broken down in an airtight container (without air), it is called anaerobic composting. When the organic matter is exposed to air, it is called aerobic composting.
CONSERVATION: The preservation of natural resources from loss or waste.
CONTAMINANTS: Materials that pollute and harm our environment.
COST AVOIDANCE: Finding the least expensive option for accomplishing a task. In the case of waste disposal, recycling can be a cost avoidance measure if it saves tipping fees at the landfill.
CULLET: Ground or crushed glass.
DECOMPOSITION: To process of breaking down or rotting.
DIOXIN: A toxic chemical which may be formed from processes such as bleaching paper or burning certain materials.
DUMP: Now illegal, dumps were open unsanitary disposal sites used prior to sanitary landfills. (Verb) To throw away garbage or solid waste in a place set apart for the purpose.
ECOLOGY: The scientific study of the relation of living things to one another and to their environment. A scientist who studies these relationships is called an "ecologist".
ECOSYSTEM: A system made up of a community of living things and the physical and chemical environment with which they interact.
EFFLUENT: Liquid discharged as waste, such as water used in an industrial process, or treated sewage.
EMISSIONS: Effluents such as those resulting from the combustion of a fuel.
ENERGY RECOVERY FACLITY: A resource recovery plant which generates energy by burning solid waste.
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT COUNCIL (EMC): A group of citizens that advises and raises concerns for decision-makers about environmental issues.
FEASIBILITY STUDY: An assessment of whether a project is capable of being completed, both physically and financially.
FINITE RESOURCE: A resource that exists in a measurable amount and is nonrenewable (once it is used up, it is gone forever).
FERROUS METAL: Iron-based metal. You can tell if a metal is iron by using a magnet.
FIXED COSTS: Costs that are unrelated to the volume of business conducted.
FLY ASH: Small solid particles of ash and soot generated when coal, oil, or waste materials are burned.
GARBAGE: Solid waste, anything that we no longer want or use.
GROUNDWATER: Water which is in the spaces between soil particles or cracks in rocks under the ground.
HARDNESS: A characteristic of water, caused by salts of calcium, magnesium, and iron.
HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL: A chemical that is dangerous to handle or dispose of.
HAZARDOUS WASTE: A waste material that is dangerous to handle or dispose of, including toxic chemicals, radioactive wastes, old explosives, and some biological wastes.
HUMUS: Decayed organic materials (grass, leaves, etc.); rich soil.
ILLEGAL DUMPING: To unlawfully throw away garbage or waste in any place not authorized to accept waste material.
INCINERATOR: A thermal device in which solid waste is burned for the purpose of volume reduction. An incinerator used to obtain energy is classified as an energy recovery facility.
INORGANIC: Composed of matter that is not animal or vegetable; not having the organized structure of living things. Most inorganic compounds do not contain carbon and are derived from mineral sources.
LANDFILL: A place where unwanted materials are dumped. They are then compacted with large machines and covered with soil. Modern landfills have a liner under the garbage and a cover on top.
LEACH: To remove dissolved substances by the action of percolating water or other liquids.
LEACHATE: Liquid that has percolated through solid waste and/or been generated by solid waste decomposition and has extracted, dissolved or suspended materials in it. The liquid may contaminate ground or surface water if not properly managed.
LITTER: Waste materials carelessly discarded in an inappropriate place. Littering is against the law.
MATERIAL MANAGEMENT: Management of resources that we used to dispose of in landfills. Examples include source separation and recycling.
METHANE: An odorless and colorless gas that is produced by anaerobic decomposition of solid waste. Its chemical formula is CH4. Methane can cause asphyxiation and is explosive.
MUNICIPAL SOLID: Solid waste produced within a community by residential,
WASTE: commercial and institutional generators.
NATURAL RESOURCES: Valuable, naturally occurring materials such as wood, minerals, air, or water.
NONRENEWABLE RESOURCES: Natural materials, which because of their scarcity, the great length of time required for their formation, or their rapid depletion are considered finite, i.e., exhaustible.
ORGANIC: Derived from living organisms. Also, designating any chemical compound containing carbon.
PACKAGING: A covering used to protect and promote a product.
PERMEABILITY: A measure of the rate at which water can percolate through soil.
PETROCHEMICAL: Chemical made from petroleum; used in making plastic.
PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE: Designed to last for a limited period of time; not durable.
PLANNING DEPARTMENT: A government body that plans for a community's future with regard to space, land use, water supplies, etc.
POLLUTION: Harmful substances deposited in the air, water, or land, leading to a state of dirtiness, impurity or unhealthiness.
PRECYCLING: Activities that reduce the amount of waste produced.
PULP: Fiber material from which paper and cardboard is made.
RECYCLING: The act of removing from the overall waste stream those materials that can be reconstituted into new products.
REDUCTION: Decreasing the amount of trash produced by buying only what is needed, avoiding disposables, and choosing products that are not overpackaged.
REFUSE-DERIVED FUEL: A solid fuel derived from municipal solid waste that has been processed to improve its combustion characteristics.
RENEWABLE RESOURCE: A resource derived from an endless or cyclical source, such as the sun, wind, falling water (hydroelectric), biofuels, fish, and trees. With proper management and wise use, the consumption of these resources can be approximately equal to replacement by natural or human-assisted systems.
RESERVE BASE: The amount of a nonrenewable natural resource that still remains to be used.
RESOURCE RECOVERY: Use of high technology to burn mixed solid waste and produce energy and, in some cases, industrial fuel. Resource recovery may involve mechanical separation of recyclables before or after burning.
SANITARY LANDFILL: A specially engineered site for disposing of solid waste on land constructed so as to reduce hazards to public safety and health.
SCRUBBER: Machines used to remove particulate matters and pollutant gases from exhaust gas streams.
SEWAGE: Liquid/solid waste from our sewage systems.
SLUDGE: Solid muddy materials left after sewage has settled.
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT: The controlling, handling, and disposal of all trash.
SOLVENTS: Liquid that are able to dissolve other substances; often have detrimental effects to health.
SOURCE REDUCTION: Reducing waste at the source, producing less waste or decreasing its toxicity.
SOURCE SEPARATION: The separation of recyclable materials from trash at home, in school, or by businesses.
STATIC USE: Rate of use of a natural resource remaining level (not increasing or declining).
SUPERFUND: A fund the U.S. Government has formed to handle hazardous waste problem.
TIPPING FEE: Charge at a disposal site to dump garbage. Usually expressed in $/ton.
TOXIC SUBSTANCES: Materials that can cause death or disease, mutations, deformities, or malfunctions in organisms or their offspring.
TRANSFER STATION: An intermediate collection facility temporarily holding solid waste en route to another facility.
TRASH: Material considered worthless, unnecessary or offensive that is usually thrown away. Generally defined as dry waste material and not including food waste and ashes. The term is often used interchangeably with the word garbage.
TURBIDITY: A cloudy condition caused by particles suspended in a liquid.
VARIABLE COSTS: Costs which rise or fall as the volume of business increases or decreases.
WASTE MANAGEMENT: The managment of garbage through a variety of methods including reduction, recycling, composting, incineration, landfilling, etc.
WASTE STREAM: The solid waste produced by people or industries within a given area, location, or facility.
WASTE-TO-ENERGY: Process of burning waste to produce energy/electricity.
WATER TABLE: The top of the groundwater layer.
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