TYPES of GARBAGE and their Classification

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Our activity constantly generates garbage: regardless of the activity we develop, there is always a generation of waste behind it that must be treated in the most appropriate way to avoid causing greater damage to the environment, both avoiding that waste can be sources of contamination such as reintroducing materials on the market to reduce the extractive activity of new materials.

If you want to know what types of garbage are there According to different classification criteria, keep reading this article because at Ecologista Verde we explain everything to you.

Types of garbage according to whether it can be recycled

This is the first classification that we are going to see, since it is the most important in the framework of a growing circular economy. As we have already seen in other posts, what we know as garbage can actually be raw materials if they are treated well. However, for this the garbage has to be recyclable. So, we can classify the types of garbage as recyclable and non-recyclable:


It is the type of garbage that can be recycled, to give it a longer useful life. For this, a series of conditions must be met:

  • That it is recyclable in nature: there are elements that are very difficult to recycle, or that need a supply of "new" raw material. For example, colored PET plastic (usually in cleaning product bottles) is very difficult to recycle due to the dyes it incorporates.
  • Make it available: for example, space junk is impossible to recycle simply because it is far away. The same is true of many plastics found at the bottom of large ponds of water.
  • That it has an acceptable degree of purity: for the garbage to be recycled, the materials have to be well separated. For example, both PET plastic and metal can be recycled, but if we find traces of metal with PET, the recycled sheets will not work. Another example: organic waste mixed with plastics or other impurities gives rise to a very poor quality compost that cannot be used in agriculture.
  • That recycling facilities are available: a material is not only recyclable depending on what it is, but depending on where it is. Unfortunately, many of the waste treatment systems fail to recycle as much as possible.

Non-recyclable garbage

If the above conditions are not met, we are dealing with non-recyclable garbage. In this case, incineration is usually used and its disposal in large landfills (incinerated or not incinerated). In the worst case, it will pass into the environment.

Types of garbage according to its composition

Most garbage is mixed to some degree. However, to study its composition we are going to assume that all materials are pure and this is how the types of garbage are classified according to their composition: organic waste and inorganic waste (metals, paper and cardboard, construction waste or rubble and plastics and packaging).

  • Organic trash: It is the garbage with a high content of organic matter. Usually, the one generated by food processing (food scraps, vegetable peelings, etc.).
  • Metals: metals are usually generated in industry, but also, for example, with electronic and technological waste. Expand this information with the one you will find here: Importance of metal recycling.
  • Paper and paperboard: are generated on a regular basis, since many products are protected with paper and / or cardboard. Here you can see How to recycle paper.
  • Construction and demolition waste: These wastes are generated when small or large-scale works are carried out. For example, it is the brick fragments that we generate when breaking down a wall, but also the earth that is removed when a new building is constructed.
  • Plastics and packaging: very common in homes, since our current distribution system uses plastics a lot. In these other links you will find which plastics can be recycled and which cannot and how plastic is recycled.

Learn more about What is organic and inorganic garbage with examples in this other article.

Types of garbage according to its toxicity

When we think of waste, what we generate in our homes usually comes to mind. However, human activity generates a large amount of waste in factories, quarries, etc., which are very different in nature from what we can find in a normal home. This is the classification of waste types according to their toxicity:

Non-toxic waste

Non-toxic waste is the majority. They are wastes that do not cause significant damage to people's health and which, furthermore, have not been verified by studies that cause damage to the environment.

Toxic waste

They are waste that does exert a harmful action on people's health and / or the environment. They are, for example, paints, sewage sludge, traces of chemical products (including agrochemicals), solvents, oils and other industrial waste … all these wastes are very difficult to recycle, and must be treated with great care so as not to cause further damage.

To distinguish toxic from non-toxic waste, we recommend consulting the European Waste List (commonly called "LER codes"). Toxic wastes are those that have an asterisk on the list.

Types of garbage containers

The types of garbage containers depend largely on the local garbage management. However, here are the most common ones:

  • Blue container: paper and cardboard.
  • Green container: glass.
  • Yellow container: containers and plastics.
  • Brown container: organic.
  • Gray container: other remains.

In this other article by Ecologist Verde we delve into the topic of What are the types of recycling containers, detailing their color and all the types of garbage that go in them.

Other types of garbage or waste

Then we leave you other types of waste which are less known, but are also very important:

Electronic and technological waste

It is the garbage that is generated from electronic devices. It is highly sought after for its high-value metal content. In this other post we explain what to do with technological garbage. and in this other we show The impact of electronic waste: a huge ecological problem.

Space junk

It is the garbage that is generated from satellites and other space units that become out of use. Many remain orbiting the Earth and are totally useless. Learn more about one of the lesser known types of garbage in this other article on What is space debris and how we can avoid it.

Sanitary waste

These are considered as hazardous waste. Although they are mostly organic, they are considered to have a high content of bacteria and other potentially infectious agents, as well as a high drug load, so their only outlet is incineration. They are generated mainly in health centers and research centers.

If you want to read more articles similar to Types of garbage, we recommend that you enter our Recycling and waste management category.

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