Requiring air or oxygen, used in reference to decomposition processes that occur with the inclusion of oxygen


Composite material made by blending materials under selected conditions. Plastic polymers or co-polymers can be blended with other polymers or elastomers to produce a plastic alloy, e.g. Polycarbonate with ABS. Similarly, different metals can be blended to produce metal alloys such as brass and bronze.

Alternative fuels

Fuels which are generally less greenhouse intensive than petrol and diesel, e.g. ethanol and compressed natural gas (CNG).


Not requiring air or oxygen, used in reference to decomposition processes that occur in the absence of oxygen.

Anaerobic digestion

A process of biologically degrading organic materials in the absence of oxygen, yielding methane gas (that may be combusted to produce energy) and stabilised organic residues (that may be used as a soil additive).


The first step in the waste hierarchy and indicates practices whereby waste generation is circumvented and eliminated (avoided).

Best practice

A best practice is a process, technique, or innovative use of technology, equipment or resources that has a proven record of success in providing significant improvement in cost, schedule, quality, performance, safety, environment, or other measurable factors which impact an organisation.


Capable of being decomposed through the action of bacteria.


Bioenergy refers to the conversion of biomass to energy, e.g. electricity, gas or biofuel.


Biofuel is the fuel produced by the chemical and/or biological processing of biomass. Biofuel will either be a solid (e.g. charcoal), liquid (e.g. ethanol) or gas (e.g. methane).


Biomass is a natural resource. It refers to materials derived from photosynthesis which are not fossilised such as forest and mill residues, agricultural crops and wastes, wood and wood wastes, animal wastes, livestock operation residues, aquatic plants, fast-growing trees and plants, and municipal and industrial wastes.


Nutrient rich organic materials derived from wastewater solids (sewage sludge) that have been stabilised through processing.

Cleaner production (CP)

Is the continual effort to prevent pollution, reduce the use of energy, water and material resources and minimise waste, all without reducing production capacity.


Cogeneration is the simultaneous production of electricity and useful heat from the combustion of the same fuel source.

Commingled materials

Materials all mixed together, such as plastic bottles with glass and metal containers. Commingled recyclable materials require sorting after collection before they can be recycled.


A process of biologically degrading organic materials in the presence of oxygen, yielding carbon dioxide, heat and stabilised organic residues that may be used as a soil additive.

Construction and demolition waste (C&D)

Includes waste from residential, civil and commercial construction and demolition activities, such as fill material (e.g. soil), asphalt, bricks and timber. C&D waste excludes construction waste from owner/occupier renovations, which are included in the municipal waste stream. Unless otherwise noted, C&D waste does not include waste from the commercial and industrial waste stream.


Formal agreements or contracts, often between government and industry sectors. The national packaging covenant and sustainability covenants are examples of voluntary covenants with a regulatory underpinning


The term used to describe crushed glass that is suitable for recycling by glass manufacturers.


Decreasing the consumption of materials and energy while maintaining quality of life.

Design for sustainability (DfS)

An integrated approach aiming to achieve both environmental quality and economic efficiency through the redesign of industrial systems. DfE considers ‘cradle to grave’ costs and benefits associated with the material acquisition, manufacture, use, disposal and recovery of products.

Diversion rate

The rate or percentage of a potentially recyclable material that has been diverted out of the waste disposal stream and therefore not put into landfills.

Drop-off centre

A location where discarded materials can be left for recycling.

Electrical demand

Demand is the rate at which energy is consumed.
Consumption = Demand x Time

Energy audit

An energy audit is a systematic gathering and analysis of energy use information and can be used to determine energy efficiency improvements of a building, plant/equipment or a specific process.

The Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 3598:2000 Energy Audits defines three levels of audit.

Energy efficiency

Using less energy to perform the same function.

Energy management

A program of well-planned actions aimed at reducing energy use, recurrent energy costs and detrimental greenhouse gas emissions.


A design tool that calculates the energy efficiency of residential house or unit designs using a 5 star scale.

Fossil fuels

Coal, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, and fuels derived from crude oil (including petrol and diesel). They are called fossil fuels because they have been formed over long periods of time from ancient fossilised organic matter.

Geothermal energy

Energy derived from the natural heat of the earth contained in hot rocks, hot water, hot brines or steam.

Green Power

Electricity generated from clean, renewable energy sources (such as solar, wind, biomass and hydro power) and supplied through the grid network by your electricity supplier.

Greenhouse gases

Gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and from human activity, that absorb and re-emit infrared radiation. Water vapor (H2O) is the most abundant greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases are a natural part of the atmosphere and include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.

Hard waste

Household garbage which is not normally accepted into rubbish bins by local councils, e.g. Old stoves, mattresses.

High density polyethylene (HDPE)

A member of the polyethylene family of plastics and is used to make products such as milk bottles, pipes and shopping bags. HDPE may be coloured or opaque.

House Energy Rating

An assessment of the energy efficiency of residential house or unit designs using a 5 star scale.


Chemicals made up of carbon and hydrogen that are found in raw materials such as petroleum, coal and natural gas, and derived products such as plastics.

Hydroelectric power

The generation of electricity using falling water.


Combustion (by chemical oxidation) of waste material to treat or dispose of that waste material.

ISO 14001

The international standard for companies seeking to certify their environmental management system.


The unit for the measurement of energy is the joule (J). As the joule is a rather small unit, a prefix is usually added to form a unit multiple of a more convenient magnitude. For example, kilo (1000 times) is combined to joule to form kilojoule (kJ).

Natural gas consumption is usually measured in megajoules (MJ), where 1 MJ = 1 000 000 J. On large accounts it may be measured in gigajoules (GJ), where 1 GJ = 1 000 000 000 J.

Kerbside collection

Collection of household recyclable materials (separated or co-mingled) that are left at the kerbside for collection by local council collection services.


Sites that are licensed by the EPA Victoria for the purpose of the disposal of materials (both waste and potentially recyclable materials).

Landfill levy

Levy applied at differential rates to municipal, commercial and industrial and prescribed wastes disposed to licensed landfills in Victoria. Landfill levies are used solely for the purposes of environment protection and fostering environmentally sustainable use of resources and best practice in waste management. They fund the activities of RWMGs, EcoRecycle and EPA, helping to establish waste management infrastructure, industry waste reduction programs, education programs, regulatory controls and enforcement regimes. Levies also provide an incentive to minimise the generation of waste, sending a signal to industry that the Government supports efforts to develop alternatives to disposal to landfill.

Landfill prohibition

The banning of a certain material or product type from disposal to landfills. The state environment protection policy (siting and management of landfills receiving municipal wastes) allows for the EPA to ban a material from landfill where a higher waste management option is available.

Life cycle assessment (LCA)

An objective process to evaluate the environmental burdens associated with a product, process, or activity by identifying energy and materials used and wastes released to the environment, and to evaluate and implement opportunities to affect environmental improvements.

Life cycle (of a product)

All stages of a product’s development, from raw materials, manufacturing through to consumption and ultimate disposal.

Linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE)

A member of the polyolefin family of plastics. It is a strong and flexible plastic and usually used in film for packaging, bags and for industrial products such as pressure pipe.

Low density polyethylene (LDPE)

A member of the polyolefin family of plastics. It is a flexible material and usually used as film for packaging or as bags.

Material identification

Words, numbers or symbols used to designate composition of components of a product or packaging. Note: a material identification symbol does not indicate whether an item can be recycled.

Materials efficient

‘Achieving more with less’ by supplying products and services using fewer resources, and generating less waste, to maintain quality of life.

Materials recovery facility (MRF)

A centre for the reception and transfer of materials recovered from the waste stream. At a MRF, materials are also sorted by type and treated, which may include cleaning and compression.

Metropolitan regions

Eastern, south eastern, northern, western, mornington peninsula

Mobile garbage bin (MGB)

A wheeled kerbside container for the collection of garbage or other materials.


Any composted or non-composted organic material, excluding plastic, that is suitable for placing on soil surfaces to restrict moisture loss from the soil and to provide a source of nutrients to the soil to aid plant growth. For information on how to make mulch, see Composting and Worm Farms. For information on commercial mulch making processes, see Garden Organics.

Municipal waste

Solid waste generated from domestic premises (garbage and hard waste) and council activities such as street sweeping, litter and street tree lopping. Also includes waste dropped at transfer stations and construction waste from owner/occupier renovations.

National packaging covenant (NPC)

A self regulatory agreement between industries involved in the packaging chain and all spheres of government.

Neighbourhood environment improvement plan (NEIP)

Plans developed in partnership by all parts of the community, including residents, special interest groups, local government, local industry and other agencies such as EPA and Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE).

Nickel cadmium batteries

Batteries typically used in appliances such as power tools and mobile phones. Cadmium is a heavy metal that poses risk to human and eco-system health.

Non-ferrous metals

Those metals that contain very little or no iron, e.g. Copper, brass and bronze.

Non-government organisation (NGO)

A not-for-profit or community based organisation.


Plant or animal matter originating from domestic or industrial sources, e.g. Grass clippings, tree prunings, food waste.

Pay-by-weight systems

Financial approaches to managing waste that charge prices according to the quantity of waste collected, rather than a price per pick-up or fixed annual charge, as typically applied to households for kerbside services. Pay-by-weight systems may provide an incentive to reduce waste generation.

Photovoltaic (PV)

Pertaining to the direct conversion of light into electricity


One of many high-polymeric substances, including both natural and synthetic products, but excluding rubbers. At some stage in its manufacture every plastic is capable of flowing, under heat and pressure, if necessary, into the desired final shape.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)

A clear, tough, light and shatterproof type of plastic, used to make products such as soft drink bottles, film packaging and fabrics

Polypropylene (PP)

A member of the polyelofin family of plastics. PP is light, rigid and glossy and is used to make products such as washing machine agitators, clear film packaging, carpet fibres and housewares.

Polystyrene (PS)

A member of the styrene family of plastics. PS is easy to mould and is used to make refrigerator and washing machine components. It can be foamed to make single use packaging, such as cups, meat and produce trays.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

A member of the vinyl family of plastics. PVC can be clear, flexible or rigid and is used to make products such as fruit juice bottles, credit cards, pipes and hoses.

Post-consumer material

Material generated by households or commercial, industrial or institutional facilities in their role as end-users of the product which can no longer be used for its intended purpose. This includes returns of material from the distribution chain.

Pre-consumer material

Material diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process. Excluded is reutilisation of materials such as rework, regrind or scrap generated in a process and capable of being reclaimed within the same process that generated it.

Prescribed waste and prescribed industrial waste

Those wastes listed in the Environment Protection (Prescribed Waste) Regulations 1998 and being subject to requirements under the industrial waste management policy (prescribed Industrial Waste) 2000. EPA Victoria closely regulates these wastes because of their potential adverse impacts on human health and the environment.

Prescribed wastes carry special handling, storage, transport and often licensing requirements, and attract substantially higher disposal levies than non-prescribed solid wastes.

Product stewardship

A concept of shared responsibility by all sectors involved in the manufacture, distribution, use and disposal of products.


Advanced thermal technology involving the thermal decomposition of organic compounds in the complete absence of oxygen and under pressure and at elevated temperature.

Raw materials

Materials that are extracted from the ground and processed into material inputs. For example, bauxite is processed into aluminium.

Recovered material

Material that would have otherwise been disposed of as waste or used for energy recovery, but has instead been collected and recovered (reclaimed) as a material input, in lieu of a new primary material, for a recycling or manufacturing process.

Recovery rate

The recovery rate is the percentage of materials consumed that is recovered for recycling.


While this term strictly applies to all materials that may be recycled, the term is generally used in the Towards Zero Waste Strategy and supporting documents in reference to the recyclable containers and paper/cardboard component of kerbside waste, i.e. Not including garden organics.

Recycled content

Proportion, by mass, of recycled material in a product or packaging. Only pre-consumer and post-consumer materials shall be considered as recycled content, consistent with the following usage of terms.

Recycled material

Material that has been reprocessed from recovered (reclaimed) material by means of a manufacturing process and made into a final product or into a component for incorporation into a product.


A term that may be used to cover a wide range of activities, including collection, sorting, reprocessing and manufacture into new products.

Regional Waste Management Group (RWMG)

Statutory authority established under the Environment Protection Act 1970 responsible for planning for municipal solid waste. There are 16 RWMGs across Victoria each covering one or more municipalities. For more information, see Regional Waste Management Groups.


See Regional Waste Management Groups (RWMGs)

Renewable energy

Renewable energy is any source of energy that can be used without depleting its reserves. These sources include sunlight or solar energy and other sources such as, wind, wave, biomass and hydro energy.

Renewable energy certificates

Market trading mechanisms created through the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 in connection with the commonwealth government’s mandatory renewable energy target. The certificates provide a ‘premium’ revenue stream for electricity generated from renewable sources.


Changing the physical structure and properties of a waste material that would otherwise have been sent to landfill, in order to add financial value to the processed material. May employ a range of technologies including composting, anaerobic digestion and energy from waste technologies such as pyrolysis, gasification and incineration.

Residual waste

Waste that remains after any source separation of recyclable materials including green waste.

Resource recovery

The process of obtaining matter or energy from discarded materials.


The application of conservation, efficiency, or renewable energy technologies to existing structures.

Resource recovery

The process of obtaining matter or energy from discarded materials.


The second-highest option in the waste hierarchy – recovering value from a discarded resource without reprocessing or remanufacture e.g.Garments sold though opportunity shops strictly represent a form of re-use, rather than recycling.

Sectors, industry sectors

Groupings of industry used to generalise patterns in waste generation and disposal. E.g. Construction and demolition; food services, food retail and food manufacturing; small and medium enterprises.


Small to medium-sized enterprise

Soil conditioner

Any composted or non-composted material of organic origin that is produced or distributed for adding to soils. This term also includes ‘soil amendment’, ‘soil additive’, ‘soil improver’ and similar terms, but excludes polymers that do not biodegrade, such as plastics, rubbers and coatings.

Solar energy

The radiant energy of the sun, which can be converted into other forms of energy, such as heat or electricity.

Solar power

Electricity generated from solar radiation.

Solid industrial waste (SIW)

Solid waste generated from commercial, industrial or trade activities, including waste from factories, offices, schools, universities, State and Federal government operations and commercial construction and demolition work. Excludes MSW, wastes that are prescribed under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and quarantine wastes.

Solid inert waste

Hard waste and dry vegetative material and which as a negligible activity or effect on the environment, such as demolition material, concrete, bricks, plastic, glass, metals and shredded tyres.

Solid waste

Non-hazardous, non-prescribed, solid waste materials ranging from municipal garbage to industrial waste.

Source separation

  • Separation of recyclable material from other waste at the point and time the waste is generated, i.e. At its source. This includes separation of recyclable material into its component categories, e.g. Paper, glass, aluminium, and may include further separation within each category, e.g. Paper into computer paper, office whites and newsprint.
  • The practice of segregating materials into discrete materials streams prior to collection by or delivery to reprocessing facilities.


Parties having an interest in a particular project or outcome.

State Environment Protection Policies (SEPPs)

Statutory instruments under the Environment Protection Act 1970 that identify beneficial uses of the environment that are to be protected, establish environmental indicators and objectives and define attainment programs to implement the policies.

Sustainability covenant

Under Section 49 of the Environment Protection Act 1970, a Sustainability Covenant is an agreement which a person or body undertakes to increase the resource use efficiency and/or reduce ecological impacts of activities, products, services and production processes. Parties can voluntarily enter into such agreements with EPA, or could be required to if they are declared by Governor in Council, on the recommendation of EPA, to have potential for significant impact on the environment.

Sustainable consumption, sustainable resource use

A change to society’s historical patterns of consumption and behaviour that enables consumers to satisfy their needs with better performing products or services that use fewer resources, cause less pollution and contribute to social progress worldwide.

Sustainable development

Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable energy

Sustainable energy is about meeting current energy needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their economic, social and environmental needs.


A concept commonly associated with product stewardship, placing responsibility on brand-owners, retailers, manufacturers or other supply chain partners to accept products returned by consumers once they have reached the end of their useful life. Products may then be recycled, treated or disposed to landfill.

Transfer station

A facility allowing drop-off and consolidation of garbage and a wide range of recyclable materials. Transfer stations have become an integral part of municipal waste management, playing an important role in materials recovery and improving transportation economics associated with municipal waste disposal.

Triple bottom line (TBL)

Referring to the notion that organisations are responsible for social and environmental as well as financial outcomes.


A machine for converting the heat energy in steam or high temperature gas into mechanical energy. In a turbine, a high velocity flow of steam or gas passes through successive rows of radial blades fastened to a central shaft.

Victorian Greenhouse Strategy

A strategy developed by the state government to ensure Victoria plays its part in national and international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Victorian Litter Action Alliance (VLAA)

Victoria’s peak body for litter management. Formed in April 2000, the alliance was created to coordinate efforts made on behalf of State and local government agencies and the voluntary and private sectors to reduce litter in the Victorian environment to acceptable levels.


A type of plastic (usually PVC) used to make products such as fruit juice bottles, credit cards, pipes and hoses.

Visual waste audit

Involves observing, estimating and recording data on waste streams and practices without physical weighing.


The unit of potential difference between two points is the volt (V) (commonly called voltage). One thousand volts equals 1 kilovolt (kV).


This term usually refers to any material (liquid, solid or gaseous) that is produced by domestic households and commercial, institutional, municipal or industrial organisations, and which cannot be collected and recycled in any way for further use. For solid wastes, the term may describe materials that currently go to landfills, even though some of the material is potentially recyclable.

Waste analysis

Is the quantifying of different waste streams, recording and detailing of it as a proportion of the total waste stream, determining its destination and recording details of waste practices.

Waste assessment

Involves observing, measuring, recording data and collecting and analysing waste samples. Some practitioners consider an assessment to be one where observations are carried out visually, without sorting and measuring individual streams (see visual waste audit)

Waste audit

Same as a waste assessment. Involves observing, measuring, recording data and collecting and analysing waste samples. Some practitioners consider an audit to be one where waste streams are sorted and measured manually.

Waste avoidance

At the top of the waste hierarchy, avoidance works on the principle that the greatest gains result from efficiency-centred actions that remove or reduce the need to consume materials in the first place, but deliver the same outcome.

Waste generation

Generation of unwanted materials including recyclables as well as garbage. Waste generation = materials recycled + waste to landfill

Waste hierarchy, waste management hierarchy

A concept promoting waste avoidance ahead of recycling and disposal, often referred to in community education campaigns as ‘reduce reuse recycle.’ The waste hierarchy is recognised in the Environment Protection Act 1970, promoting management of wastes in the order of preference: avoidance, reuse, recycling, recovery of energy, treatment, containment, disposal.

Waste management

Practices and procedures that relate to how the waste is dealt with.

Waste management industry

A term variously applied to collectors, sorters and reprocessors of waste/resources. The term may also be used to include landfill operators.

Waste management infrastructure

The plant and equipment required to service the recovery and disposal of waste materials.

Waste management policy (WMP)

A statutory instrument under the Environment Protection Act 1970 that provides the basis for the management of waste and can cover generation, use, transport, storage, treatment, handling, recovery, recycling, reuse and disposal of waste.

Waste minimisation

Techniques to keep waste generation at a minimum level in order to divert materials from landfill and thereby reduce the requirement for waste collection, handling and disposal to landfill. Term is also applied to recycling and other efforts to reduce the amount of waste going into the waste stream.

Waste reduction

Measures to reduce the amount of waste generated by an individual, household or organisation.

Waste reduction action plan/action plan

A detailed outline of what actions the company is going to take to ensure that: waste levels are reduced; all wastes are handled and stored properly; where waste is generated, that it is disposed of in an environmentally and economically sound manner; staff are properly trained in all aspects of waste management; and there is an inbuilt review process to ensure the above occurs.

Waste stream

A classification used to describe waste materials that are either of a particular type (e.g. ‘timber waste stream’) or produced a particular source (e.g. ‘C&I waste stream’)

Waste treatment

Where some additional processing is undertaken of a particular waste. This may be done to reduce its toxicity, or increase its degradability or compost ability.


Power is the term used to describe the rate at which energy is used. It is measured in Watts (W), which are defined as the number of joules per second, i.e. 1 W = 1 J/s. This unit is also more conveniently used in greater magnitudes such as kilowatts (kW), where

1 kW = 1 kJ/s = 1000 J/s; and megawatts (MW)

where 1 MW = 1000 kW = 1000 kJ/s.

Watt-hours, kilowatt-hours

Electricity consumption is measured in units of watt-hours (Wh), or more typically, kilowatt-hours (kWh) and megawatt-hours (MWh), where 1 MWh = 1000 kWh.

1 kWh means 1 kW of power being used for 1 hour.

Kilowatt-hours relate to megajoules as follows:

1 kWh = 1 kJ/s x 3600 s = 3600 kJ = 3.6 MJ


Household goods and appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers.

Wind energy

Refers to the kinetic energy present in the motion of the wind. Wind energy can be converted to mechanical or electrical energy. A traditional mechanical windmill can be used for pumping water or grinding grain. A modern electrical wind turbine converts the force of the wind to electrical energy for consumption on site and/or export to the electricity grid.