California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 


Standard Material Type Definitions


Standard solid waste material type definitions provide a uniform classification system to track the types of wastes being disposed statewide. Local governments should use this information when performing waste disposal characterization studies. Local governments will also find the standard material type definitions useful when reporting on diversion programs in their annual reports to the California Integrated Waste Management Board. In addition, the standard material type definitions can assist local governments in identifying and classifying materials for diversion program planning purposes.


  • "Standardized classification system" means a system people use to classify materials in the same way.

Using the Standard Material Type Definitions

  • The Board developed the standard material type definitions as part of the State's "uniform disposal characterization method" in 1996. Originally, 57 standard material types were defined, but the list was expanded to 67 standard types in 2004.
  • The Board’s waste disposal characterization database incorporates the original 57 standard material type definitions. Local governments, businesses, recyclers, and others can use this database to estimate the characteristics of the waste stream and to find out information about the waste stream.
  • The Board’s 1999 Complete 1999 Study Statewide Waste Disposal Characterization Study Results and Final Report used the original 57 standard material type definitions to gather information on waste disposed by residential, self-haul, and commercial sectors in the state. The 2004 Statewide Waste Characterization Study used the new expanded list of 67 types.
  • Local governments have used the standard material type definitions to perform their own waste characterization studies since 1994.
  • The list of material types is organized into two levels: category and type. The categories outline the organization of the types. (Refer to table: standard list of material categories and types.)
  • Use the material types during waste sorting for waste characterization studies. The definitions include examples of common materials and products in order to demonstrate what should be included in the types. Jurisdictions may use the standard types or may further divide the types to suit their needs by following some simple rules.

Legislation and Statutes:


Chapter 1292, Statutes of 1992 (Sher, AB 2494)

Statute: Public Resources Code (PRC) Sections

PRC 41770, Revision of Waste Management Plans

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Last updated: October 31, 2006
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