Data quality, concepts and methodology: Defining waste and its components

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Waste management activities take many different forms and involve many different participants. This presents challenges when trying to prepare an integrated picture of activities, including the total materials managed.

One common thread is that all the materials handled are unwanted by their producer. The unwanted materials may be by-products of a production process– for example, fly ash from a furnace. Alternatively they might be products, the inherent value of which has been consumed from the perspective of the current holder–for example, a newspaper that has been read or a package that has been opened and emptied of its contents.

Concepts and definitions in the waste management area have been evolving over the past several years. The most common source of difficulty is in classifying types of waste. Strategies to compile waste statistics reflect the specific needs of statistical and analytical projects: by type (municipal solid non-hazardous waste, hazardous waste); by generator or by generating activity (residential, industrial, commercial, institutional and construction and demolition projects) as well as by type of material. The differences in the terminology that the various respondents use can create many operational difficulties when surveys are in the field. (See Data quality, concepts and methodology — Definitions section). Progress is being made on both the national and international fronts toward the development and implementation of consistent classifications and measurement methodologies of waste management industry activities as well as the materials that this industry handles.

Next | Previous

Date modified: