The A-Z of Rubbish

The A-Z of Rubbish

The A to Z of Rubbish


You might think that rubbish is just rubbish and there’s not much more you need to know; well think again! Here are some facts about waste; some will leave you baffled, and some will definitely get you extra credits in the pub quiz!

A – Apex Regional Landfill, Nevada, USA – The world’s largest landfill site

Las Vegas alone produces over 9,000 tons of waste every day, and most of it ends up in the Apex Regional Landfill. The site already has a staggering 50 million tonnes of waste in it.


Las Vegas, Nevada, USA


B – ‘Big Belly’

The 'Big Belly' is a computerised, solar-powered bin which can hold around 8 times as much rubbish as a normal bin. Each bin has a waste compressor inside and an internal computer sends an email to the relevant council or company when it needs to be emptied.

C – Composting

Composting is a natural process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil. By composting, you are returning nutrients back to the soil. You can put most things on a compost pile, including potato peels, tea bags, egg shells, leaves, and grass.

D – Dual stream

This is a recycling system, which is also known as source separated recycling. It means separating fibre based materials such as paper and cardboard from containers such as plastic, containers, and cans.

E – Energy recovery

Energy recovery is the process of converting waste into energy, and it is an excellent way to reduce waste sent to landfill. Waste can be treated and converted into heat, electricity, or fuel.


Energy Recovery


F – Fly-tipping

This is the illegal dumping of waste onto land. It also includes dumping waste on unauthorised tips.

G – Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific garbage patch is a gyre of marine debris particles in the central North Pacific Ocean. It contains plastic, chemical sludge, and other debris.

H – Hazardous waste

Waste is classed as hazardous when it contains substances or has properties which makes it harmful to human health, or to the environment.

I – Incineration

Incineration is a type of waste treatment whereby waste is burned and converted into ash, flue gas, and heat. Sometimes, the heat created by incineration is used to generate electricity.

J – Junk

Is the term we give to discarded waste, which can often be reused or recycled in some way.

K – Karachay

Lake Karachay in Russia is one of the most polluted places on earth. It was a dumping ground for one of the largest nuclear weapons facilities in the former Soviet Union. Research has shown that the lake is still heavily contaminated with radioactive waste, and apparently, if you spent just 1 hour in the lake, it would be enough to kill you!

L – Landfill

A landfill site is an area of land which is used to dump rubbish. These sites are meant for rubbish that can’t be reused or recycled. There is considerable investment in the development of technologies which can reduce waste being sent to landfill, as available land is running out.



M – Middens

This is the archaeological term for a rubbish heap. They are made up of discarded waste, food, tools, and crockery, and they provide archaeologists with a lot of clues about how people lived in the past.

N – Nitrogen

Nitrogen provides proteins for the microorganisms which break down the organic waste in your compost heap. Putting tea bags, fruit cores and rinds, coffee grounds, leaves, grass, and manure on your compost heap will accelerate the process of decomposition.

O – Organic waste

Organic waste is any material that is biodegradable and comes from either a plant or animal. Organic waste is broken down by other organisms over time. Organic waste can be made up of vegetable and fruit leftovers, bones, and human or animal waste which disintegrates quickly.



P – Pollution

Pollution is when contaminants enter the natural environment and cause adverse effects. Chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light can be classed as pollution, as can naturally occurring contaminants.

Q – ‘Quinkins’

This is a Scottish slang term for food waste, which is left in a pan. This can be charred traces of food or the scum of a liquid that was in the pan.

R - Recycling

Recycling is the process of converting waste into new materials and products. Recycling can prevent the waste of natural resources and reduce the need for raw materials for the production of new products. This then reduces energy usage, air pollution, and water pollution.

Many materials are recyclable, including glass, paper, and cardboard, metal, plastic, tires, textiles, and electronics. Composting of food and garden waste is also considered to be recycling.

S – ‘Seabin’

The Seabin’ is a floating bin, invented by 2 Australian surfers. It automatically sucks in any rubbish floating in the water. A pump draws water into the bin, and brings the rubbish with it. They are designed to be situated in marinas, and cost a cool £2,500 each.

T – ‘Trash Bash’

This is an annual event held in the Roberts Creek area in Canada. Volunteers help to clean up a nominated area, which is usually a forest or an area of land that has been used as an illegal dumpsite.



U – United States

The U.S is the world’s biggest producer of rubbish. The U.S. produces ¼ of the world’s waste, even though its population is less than 5% of the entire world population. The country produces around 236 million tonnes of municipal solid waste alone.

 V – Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting is the breaking down of organic material through the use of worms, bacteria, and fungi. In nature, organic matter is decomposed through these organisms.  Vermicomposting just speeds up the natural process. The result is a compost which is very nutrient rich. It can be added to soil to add nutrients. Many people build a ‘worm bin’ for this purpose, and organic waste is added to the bin for the worms to break down.

W – Wheelie bins

The not so attractive but incredibly versatile container for our rubbish. Make a point of keeping your bin clean, safe, and secure, and know what you should and shouldn’t be putting in it.

Check out our great value, high-quality range of wheelie bins

X – Xenon 

Xenon is an odourless gas which is used to fill cathode ray tubes. It is often found in electronic waste. Always dispose of this type of waste correctly.

Y – Young people

Research has shown that younger people are more likely to recycle than older people, however, younger people tend to drop the most litter.

Z – Zero Waste

Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages people to reuse and recover resources so they can be used by others. No waste is sent to landfill or incinerators. The approach is aimed at preventing waste rather than just dealing with it once it has been produced.

To implement this means that products and processes should be designed and managed to eliminate waste and conserve as many resources as possible.