Waste sorting


Recycling point at the Gdańsk University of Technology
Manual waste sorting for recycling
Characteristic containers for recycling in Portovenere, Italy
Garbage containers in Fuchū, Tokyo, Japan
Emptying of segregated rubbish containers in Polish medium-sized city Tomaszów Mazowiecki

Waste sorting is the process by which waste is separated into different elements.[1] Waste sorting can occur manually at the household and collected through curbside collection schemes, or automatically separated in materials recovery facilities or mechanical biological treatment systems. Hand sorting was the first method used in the history of waste sorting.[2]

Waste can also be sorted in a civic amenity site.

"Waste segregation" means dividing waste into dry and wet. Dry waste includes wood and related products, metals and glass. Wet waste typically refers to organic waste usually generated by eating establishments and are heavy in weight due to dampness. Waste segregation is different from waste sorting. Waste segregation is the grouping of waste into different categories. Each waste goes into its category at the point of dumping or collection, but sorting happens after dumping or collection. Segregation of waste ensures pure, quality material. Sorting on the other hand will end up producing impure materials with less quality.


Waste is collected at its source in each area and separated. The way that waste is sorted must reflect local disposal systems. The following categories are common:[3]

Organic waste can also be segregated for disposal:

  • Leftover food which has had any contact with meat can be collected separately to prevent the spread of bacteria.
    • Meat and bone can be retrieved by bodies responsible for animal waste.
    • If other leftovers are sent, for example, to local farmers, they can be sterilised before being fed to the animals.
  • Peels and scrapings from fruit and vegetables can be composted along with other degradable matter. Other waste can be included for composting, such as cut flowers, corks, coffee grounds, rotting fruit, tea bags, eggshells and nutshells, and paper towels.

Chip pan oil, used fats, vegetable oil and the content of fat filters can be collected by companies able to re-use them. Local authority waste departments can provide relevant addresses. This can be achieved by providing recycling bins.

By country

In Germany, regulations exist that provide mandatory quotas for the waste sorting of packaging waste and recyclable materials such as glass bottles.[4]

In Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, a pilot project using an automated collecting machine of plastic bottles or aluminium cans with voucher reward has been implemented in a market.[5]

In India, waste segregation is said to be a mess due to its over population and accumulation of waste. But now India is in a developing state where government has launched its initiatives for the project of "Swachh Bharat Abhiyan". The effectiveness of this scheme is unclear.

In Ukraine, people are learning to sort garbage. Garbage is sorted in schools and kindergartens in Khmelnytsky.[6]

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that the infrastructure for recycling waste has not kept pace with the rate of waste production.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Garbage sorting plan | Shanghai Daily
  2. ^ Aluminum Recycling, Second Edition - Mark E. Schlesinger. pp. 75-76.
  3. ^ Martin F.Lemann: Waste Management, 2008, p. 80, ISBN 9783039115143, Peter Lang
  4. ^ Germany, Garbage and the Green Dot: Challenging a Throwaway Society - Bette K. Fishbein. pp. 16-17.
  5. ^ "Satu-satunya di Indonesia, Mesin Sampah Keluarkan Voucher ada di Denpasar". July 31, 2015.
  6. ^ "Хмельничан навчатимуть, як сортувати вдома сміття". khmelnytskyi.name (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2020-11-30.
  7. ^ US EPA, OLEM (2019-04-17). "The U.S. Recycling System". www.epa.gov. Retrieved 2022-01-09.

External links

  • Media related to Waste sorting at Wikimedia Commons