Solid Waste Characterization Database
Solid Waste Material Type Definitions, Alphabetical
The following list contains definitions for material types used in CIWMB waste characterization studies. Originally, 57 material types were developed for use with the uniform waste characterization method and were subsequently used for the solid waste characterization database and the 1999 Statewide Waste Characterization Study.
The list of material types has now been expanded to 67*, in order to individually identify electronic products, delineate the several types of film plastic, and to separate carpet and used oil filters as individual material types. The 67 standard material type definitions may be viewed alphabetically or by category. For a quick overview of the categorized list of material types without definitions, see the Standard List of Material Categories and Types Basic.
*Note: Several targeted waste characterization studies were conducted in 2006 which used material types based on the list of 67 types with several additional types added. Please see the CIWMB Waste Characterization Studies page for more information. The material definitions used in each study are included in the appendices for each study.
Agricultural Crop Residues means plant material from agricultural sources. Examples include orchard and vineyard prunings, vegetable by-products from farming, residual fruits, vegetables, and other crop remains after the usable crop is harvested. This type does not include processed residues from canneries, wineries, or other industrial sources.
Aluminum Cans means any food or beverage container made mainly of aluminum. Examples include aluminum soda or beer cans, and some pet food cans. This type does not include bimetal containers with steel sides and aluminum ends.
Ash means a residue from the combustion of any solid or liquid material. Examples include ash from fireplaces, incinerators, biomass facilities, waste-to-energy facilities, and barbecues. This type also includes ash and burned debris from structure fires.
Asphalt Paving means a black or brown, tar-like material mixed with aggregate used as a paving material.
Asphalt Roofing means composite shingles and other roofing material made with asphalt. Examples include asphalt shingles and attached roofing tar and tar paper.
Batteries means any type of battery including both dry cell and lead acid. Examples include car, flashlight, small appliance, watch and hearing aid batteries.
Branches and Stumps means woody plant material, branches and stumps that exceed 4 inches in diameter from any public or private landscape.
Brown Glass Bottles and Containers means brown-colored glass containers with or without a California Redemption Value (CRV) label. Examples include whole or broken brown soda and beer bottles, and whole or broken brown wine bottles.
Brown Goods means generally larger, non-portable electronic goods that have some circuitry. Examples include microwaves, stereos, VCRs, DVD players, radios, audio/visual equipment, and non-CRT televisions (such as LCD televisions). Note: This type was classified under Remainder/Composite Metal in the original 57 standard material types used in the 1999 Statewide Study and the solid waste characterization database.
Bulky Items means large hard to handle items that are not defined elsewhere in the material types list, including furniture, mattresses, and other large items. Examples include all sizes and types of furniture, mattresses, box springs, and base components.
Carpet means flooring applications consisting of various natural or synthetic fibers bonded to some type of backing material. This type does not include carpet padding. Note: This type was classified under Remainder/Composite Organic in the original 57 standard material types used in the 1999 Statewide Study and the solid waste characterization database.
Clear Glass Bottles and Containers means clear glass beverage and food containers with or without a CRV label. Examples include whole or broken clear soda and beer bottles, fruit juice bottles, peanut butter jars, and mayonnaise jars.
Colored Ledger means colored bond, rag, or stationery grade paper. When the paper is torn, the fibers are colored throughout. Examples include colored photocopy and letter paper. This type does not include fluorescent dyed paper or deep-tone dyed paper such as goldenrod colored paper.
Computer-related Electronics means electronics with large circuitry that is computer-related. Examples include processors, mice, keyboards, laptops, disk drives, printers, modems, and fax machines. Note: This type was classified under Remainder/Composite Metal in the original 57 standard material types used in the 1999 Statewide Study and the solid waste characterization database.
Computer Paper means paper used for computer printouts. This type usually has a strip of form-feed holes along two edges. If there are no holes, then the edges show tear marks. This type can be white or striped. Examples include computer paper and printouts from continuous feed printers. This type does not include white ledger used in laser or impact printers, nor computer paper containing ground wood.
Concrete means a hard material made from sand, aggregate gravel, cement mix and water. Examples includes pieces of building foundations, concrete paving, and concrete blocks.
Durable Plastic Items means plastic items other than containers and film plastic that are made to last for more than one use. These items may bear the numbers 1 through 7 in the triangular recycling symbol. Examples include plastic outdoor furniture, plastic toys and sporting goods, CD's, and plastic housewares such as mop buckets, dishes, cups, and cutlery. This type also includes building materials such as house siding, window sashes and frames, housings for electronics such as computers, televisions and stereos, fan blades, impact-resistant cases such as tool boxes and first aid boxes, and plastic pipes and fittings.
Film Products means plastic film used for purposes other than packaging. Examples include agricultural film (film used various farming and growing applications, such as silage greenhouse films, mulch films, and wrap for hay bales), plastic sheeting used as drop cloths, and building wrap. Note: This type was classified under Film Plastic in the original 57 standard material types used in the 1999 Statewide Study and the solid waste characterization database.
Flat Glass: means clear or tinted glass that is flat. Examples include glass window panes, doors and table tops, flat automotive window glass (side windows), safety glass, and architectural glass. This type does not include windshields, laminated glass, or any curved glass.
Food means food material resulting from the processing, storage, preparation, cooking, handling, or consumption of food. This type includes material from industrial, commercial, or residential sources. Example include discarded meat scraps, dairy products, egg shells, fruit or vegetable peels, and other food items from homes, stores, and restaurants. This type includes grape pomace and other processed residues or material from canneries, wineries, or other industrial sources.
Green Glass Bottles and Containers means green-colored glass containers with or without a CRV label. Examples include whole or broken green soda and beer bottles, and whole or broken green wine bottles.
Grocery and Other Merchandise Bags means plastic shopping bags used to contain merchandise to transport from the place of purchase, given out by the store with the purchase. This type includes dry cleaning bags intended for one-time use. Note: This type was classified under Film Plastic in the original 57 standard material types used in the 1999 Statewide Study and the solid waste characterization database.
Gypsum Board means interior wall covering made of a sheet of gypsum sandwiched between paper layers. Examples include used or unused, broken or whole sheets. Gypsum board may also be called sheetrock, drywall, plasterboard, gypboard, gyproc, or wallboard.
HDPE Containers means natural and colored HDPE (high-density polyethylene) containers. This plastic is usually either cloudy white, allowing light to pass through it (natural) or a solid color, preventing light from passing through it (colored). When marked for identification, it bears the number 2 in the triangular recycling symbol and may also bear the letters HDPE. Examples include milk jugs, water jugs, detergent bottles, some hair-care bottles, empty motor oil, empty antifreeze, and other empty vehicle and equipment fluid containers.
Industrial Sludge means sludge from factories, manufacturing facilities, and refineries. Examples include paper pulp sludge and water treatment filter cake sludge.
Leaves and Grass means plant material, except woody material, from any public or private landscapes. Examples include leaves, grass clippings, plants, and seaweed. This type does not include woody material or material from agricultural sources.
Lumber means processed wood for building, manufacturing, landscaping, packaging, and processed wood from demolition. Examples include dimensional lumber, lumber cutoffs, engineered wood such as plywood and particleboard, wood scraps, pallets, wood fencing, wood shake roofing, and wood siding.
Magazines and Catalogs means items made of glossy coated paper. This paper is usually slick, smooth to the touch, and reflects light. Examples include glossy magazines, catalogs, brochures, and pamphlets.
Major Appliances means discarded major appliances of any color. These items are often enamel-coated. Examples include washing machines, clothes dryers, hot water heaters, stoves, and refrigerators. This type does not include electronics, such as televisions and stereos.
Manures means manure and soiled bedding materials from domestic, farm, or ranch animals. Examples include manure and soiled bedding from animal production operations, race tracks, riding stables, animal hospitals, and other sources.
Miscellaneous Plastic Containers means plastic containers made of types of plastic other than HDPE (high-density polyethylene) or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate). Items may be made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), LDPE (low-density polyethylene), PP (polypropylene), PS (polystyrene), or mixed resins. When marked for identification, these items may bear the number 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 in the triangular recycling symbol. Examples include food containers such as bottles for salad dressings and vegetable oils, flexible and brittle yogurt cups, syrup bottles, margarine tubs, microwave food trays, and clamshell-shaped fast food containers. This type also includes some shampoo containers, vitamin bottles, foam egg cartons, and clamshell-like muffin containers.
Mixed Residue means material that cannot be put in any other type or category. This category includes mixed residue that cannot be further sorted. Examples include clumping kitty litter and residual material from a materials recovery facility or other sorting process that cannot be put in any other material type, including remainder/composite types.
Newspaper means paper used in newspapers. Examples include newspaper and glossy inserts found in newspapers, and all items made from newsprint, such as free advertising guides, election guides, and tax instruction booklets.
Non-Bag Commercial and Industrial Packaging Film means film plastic used for large-scale packaging or transport packaging. Examples include shrink-wrap, mattress bags, furniture wrap, and film bubble wrap. Note: This type was classified under Film Plastic in the original 57 standard material types used in the 1999 Statewide Study and the solid waste characterization database.
Other Colored Glass Bottles and Containers means colored glass containers and bottles other than green or brown with or without a CRV label. Examples include whole or broken blue or other colored bottles and containers.
Other Ferrous means any iron or steel that is magnetic or any stainless steel item. This type does not include tin/steel cans. Examples include structural steel beams, metal clothes hangers, metal pipes, stainless steel cookware, security bars, and scrap ferrous items.
Other Film means all other plastic film that does not fit into any other type. Examples include other types of plastic bags (sandwich bags, zipper-recloseable bags, newspaper bags, produce bags, frozen vegetable bags, bread bags), food wrappers such as candy bar wrappers, mailing pouches, bank bags, X-ray film, metallized film (wine containers and balloons), and plastic food wrap. Note: This type was classified under Film Plastic in the original 57 standard material types used in the 1999 Statewide Study and the solid waste characterization database.
Other Miscellaneous Paper means items made mostly of paper that do not fit into any of the other paper types. Paper may be combined with minor amounts of other materials such as wax or glues. This type includes items made of chipboard, ground wood paper, and deep-toned or fluorescent dyed paper. Examples include cereal and cracker boxes, unused paper plates and cups, goldenrod colored paper, school construction paper, butcher paper, milk cartons, ice cream cartons and other frozen food boxes, pulp paper egg cartons, unused pulp paper plant pots, and hard cover and soft cover books.
Other Non-Ferrous means any metal item, other than aluminum cans, that is not stainless steel and that is not magnetic. These items may be made of aluminum, copper, brass, bronze, lead, zinc, or other metals. Examples include aluminum window frames, aluminum siding, copper wire, shell casings, brass pipe, and aluminum foil.
Other Office Paper means paper used in offices other than ledger and computer paper. Examples include manila folders, manila envelopes, index cards, white envelopes, white window envelopes, notebook paper, ground wood computer paper, junk mail, and carbonless forms. This type does not include white ledger, colored ledger, or computer paper.
Other Small Consumer Electronics means portable non-computer-related electronics with large circuitry. Examples include personal digital assistants (PDA), cell phones, phone systems, phone answering machines, computer games and other electronic toys, portable CD players, camcorders, and digital cameras. Note: This type was classified under Remainder/Composite Metal in the original 57 standard material types used in the 1999 Statewide Study and the solid waste characterization database.
Paint means containers with paint in them. Examples include latex paint, oil based paint, and tubes of pigment or fine art paint. This type does not include dried paint, empty paint cans, or empty aerosol containers.
Paper Bags means bags and sheets made from kraft paper. The paper may be brown (unbleached) or white (bleached). Examples include paper grocery bags, fast food bags, department store bags, and heavyweight sheets of kraft packing paper.
PETE Containers means clear or colored PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) containers. When marked for identification, it bears the number 1 in the center of the triangular recycling symbol and may also bear the letters PETE or PET. The color is usually transparent green or clear. A PETE container usually has a small dot left from the manufacturing process, not a seam. It does not turn white when bent. Examples include soft drink and water bottles, some liquor bottles, cooking oil containers, and aspirin bottles.
Phone Books and Directories means thin paper between coated covers. These items are bound along the spine with glue. Examples include whole or damaged telephone books, yellow pages, real estate listings, and some non-glossy mail order catalogs.
Prunings and Trimmings means woody plant material up to 4 inches in diameter from any public or private landscape. Examples include prunings, shrubs, and small branches with branch diameters that do not exceed 4 inches. This type does not include stumps, tree trunks, branches exceeding 4 inches in diameter, or material from agricultural sources.
Remainder/Composite Construction and Demolition means construction and demolition material that cannot be put in any other type. This type may include items from different types combined, which would be very hard to separate. Examples include brick, ceramics, tiles, toilets, sinks, and fiberglass insulation. This type may also include demolition debris that is a mixture of items such as plate glass, wood, tiles, gypsum board, and aluminum scrap.
Remainder/Composite Glass means glass that cannot be put in any other type. It includes items made mostly of glass but combined with other materials. Examples include Pyrex, Corningware, crystal and other glass tableware, mirrors, light bulbs, and auto windshields.
Remainder/Composite Household Hazardous means household hazardous material that cannot be put in any other type. This type also includes household hazardous material that is mixed. Examples include household hazardous waste which if improperly put in the solid waste stream may present handling problems or other hazards, such as pesticides, caustic cleaners, and fluorescent light bulbs.
Remainder/Composite Metal means metal that cannot be put in any other type. This type includes items made mostly of metal but combined with other materials and items made of both ferrous metal and non-ferrous metal combined. Examples include small non-electronic appliances such as toasters and hair dryers, motors, insulated wire, and finished products that contain a mixture of metals, or metals and other materials, whose weight is derived significantly from the metal portion of its construction.
Remainder/Composite Organic means organic material that cannot be put in any other type. This type includes items made mostly of organic materials, but combined with other material types. Examples include leather items, cork, hemp rope, garden hoses, rubber items, hair, carpet padding, cigarette butts, diapers, feminine hygiene products, small wood products (such as Popsicle sticks and tooth picks), sawdust, and animal feces.
Remainder/Composite Paper means items made mostly of paper but combined with large amounts of other materials such as wax, plastic, glues, foil, food, and moisture. Examples include waxed corrugated cardboard, aseptic packages, plastic-coated paper milk cartons, waxed paper, tissue, paper towels, blueprints, sepia, onion skin, fast food wrappers, carbon paper, self adhesive notes, and photographs.
Remainder/Composite Plastic means plastic that cannot be put in any other type. These items are usually recognized by their optical opacity. This type includes items made mostly of plastic but combined with other materials. Examples include auto parts made of plastic attached to metal, plastic drinking straws, foam drinking cups, produce trays, egg cartons, foam packing blocks, packing peanuts, cookie trays found in cookie packages, plastic strapping, foam plates/bowls, and new Formica, vinyl, or linoleum.
Remainder/Composite Special Waste means special waste that cannot be put in any other type. Examples include asbestos-containing materials such as certain types of pipe insulation and floor tiles, auto fluff, auto bodies, trucks, trailers, truck cabs, untreated medical waste/pills/hypodermic needles, and artificial fireplace logs.
Rock, Soil and Fines means rock pieces of any size and soil, dirt, and other matter. Examples include rock, stones, sand, clay, soil and other fines. This type also includes non-hazardous contaminated soil.
Sewage Solids means residual solids and semi-solids from the treatment of domestic waste water or sewage. Examples include biosolids, sludge, grit, screenings, and septage. This type does not include sewage or waste water discharged from the sewage treatment process.
Televisions and Other Items with CRTs. Examples include televisions, computer monitors, and other items containing a cathode ray tube (CRT). Note: This type was classified under Remainder/Composite Metal in the original 57 standard material types used in the 1999 Statewide Study and the solid waste characterization database.
Textiles means items made of thread, yarn, fabric, or cloth. Examples include clothes, fabric trimmings, draperies, and all natural and synthetic cloth fibers. This type does not include cloth covered furniture, mattresses, leather shoes, leather bags, or leather belts.
Tin/Steel Cans means rigid containers made mainly of steel. These items will stick to a magnet and may be tin-coated. This type is used to store food, beverages, paint, and a variety of other household and consumer products. Examples include canned food and beverage containers, empty metal paint cans, empty spray paint and other aerosol containers, and bimetal containers with steel sides and aluminum ends.
Tires means vehicle tires. Examples include tires from trucks, automobiles, motorcycles, heavy equipment, and bicycles.
Trash Bags means plastic bags sold for use as trash bags, for both residential and commercial use. This type does not include other plastic bags, like shopping bags, that might have been used to contain trash. Note: This type was classified under Film Plastic in the original 57 standard material types used in the 1999 Statewide Study and the solid waste characterization database.
Treated Medical Waste means medical waste that has been processed in order to change its physical, chemical, or biological character or composition, or to remove or reduce its harmful properties or characteristics, as defined in Section 25123.5 of the Health and Safety Code.
Uncoated Corrugated Cardboard usually has three layers. The center wavy layer is sandwiched between the two outer layers. It does not have any wax coating on the inside or outside. Examples include entire cardboard containers, such as shipping and moving boxes, computer packaging cartons, and sheets and pieces of boxes and cartons. This type does not include chipboard boxes such as cereal and tissue boxes.
Used Oil Filters means metal oil filters used in motor vehicles and other engines, which contain a residue of used oil. Note: This type was classified under Other Ferrous in the original 57 standard material types used in the 1999 Statewide Study and the solid waste characterization database.
Vehicle and Equipment Fluids means containers with fluids used in vehicles or engines, except used oil. Examples include used antifreeze and brake fluid. This type does not include empty vehicle and equipment fluid containers.
White Ledger Paper means bleached, uncolored bond, rag, or stationery grade paper, without ground wood fibers. It may have colored ink on it. When the paper is torn, the fibers are white. Examples include white paper used in photocopiers and laser printers, and letter paper.
Last updated: April 18, 2013
Solid Waste Characterization, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/WasteChar/
Nancy Carr: Nancy.Carr@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6216