Types & Methods of Waste Management

This blog from the SL Recycling team discusses different methods and approaches to waste management, helping you to understand the various waste solutions available.

If you’d like to find out more, be sure to check out our previous guide on waste management where we explain what it is, why it’s important and the benefits it provides, or get in touch with our team today.

So, what are the different types of waste management?


Recycling is the desired goal for the vast majority of waste and refers to the process of converting and reprocessing waste products into new products. This method of waste management is favoured because it helps to conserve important raw materials, uses significantly less energy than is needed to produce virgin materials, isn’t as costly as producing new materials from scratch and helps to protect the environment as greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

A wide range of materials can be recycled, including cardboard, plastic, wood and metal.


Composting is a biological process whereby the organic parts of your food and garden waste are decomposed into nutrient-rich compost for your plants. It is a relatively safe process and is a rapidly growing method of waste management.

Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion refers to a process whereby renewable energy is created from surplus food. Taking place at specialised digestion plants, the waste food is broken down by microorganisms to create digestate and biogas.

Digestate is a rich liquid fertiliser which can be spread on farmland to enrich the soil. And the biogas (consisting of methane and carbon dioxide) is either cleaned and injected back into the gas network or is burned in order to create renewable energy. This helps to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels to generate electricity.

General Waste Management

Sometimes referred to as residual waste, general waste is material from businesses and households that cannot be recycled and is therefore frequently disposed of at landfill. However, with advances in technology, it is possible to recover value from general waste.

Mechanical heat treatment, for example, uses mechanical and thermal based technologies to separate a mixed waste stream into several component parts, providing further options for recycling and recovery. Refuse derived fuel is another example and makes use of combustible residual waste as a potential source of fuel.

Other types of general waste management include mechanical biological treatment and energy from waste.

Hazardous Waste Management

Due to the risk it presents to people and the environment, hazardous waste (such as waste that is toxic or corrosive) needs to be managed very carefully. Hazardous waste needs to be managed by a waste management expert so that qualified chemists can safely sample the waste and thus recommend the applicable recovery, recycling or treatment route.

If your business produces hazardous waste, it can be collected and transported in bulk tankers. With a 2,000 – 5,000 gallon capacity, they include acid resistant steel and are specifically designed to transport hazardous waste from your business to a dedicated facility for sorting.


Any waste that isn’t recycled or reused usually ends up at a landfill site, which is essentially a large location designed to be filled with rubbish. Some landfill sites fill a hole in the ground with waste whereas others pile the waste directly onto the ground.

Burying waste at landfill sites, however, should be a last resort as this approach is known to cause a wide range of environmental and health issues. In addition to creating an eye sore, they are a significant source of pollution (producing methane, an extremely hazardous greenhouse gas) and the rubbish breaks down at a very slow rate. Chemicals and harmful substances can also leak into the surrounding soil.


Also known as combustion, incineration is a waste management method that involves burning solid wastes at incredibly high temperatures in order to convert them into heat, gas, steam and ash. Although this solution produces energy to generate heat/electricity and it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill sites, it is far from ideal because incinerators produce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

Which is the Best Waste Management Method?

The waste hierarchy ranks waste management methods according to which is best for the environment. It highlights the various solutions for waste before it is sent to landfill.

It prioritises preventing waste in the first place, using less materials and keeping products for longer. But when waste is created, ideally it will be either re-used, recycled or recovered. The last and most undesirable option is to dispose of the waste via landfill or incineration.

Get Started with SL Recycling

SL Recycling provide a comprehensive range of industry-leading waste management and recycling services to clients across South Wales. Our advanced waste processing facilities are a singular point for all waste streams, haulage and disposal.

With years of experience in the sector, we provide cost-effective waste management and strive for zero-waste-to-landfill, creating bespoke solutions to meet your individual requirements. To find out more about our services, or to get a free no obligation quote, please don’t hesitate to contact our team today.

See more: What Does Zero Waste to Landfill Mean?

See more: The Benefits of Recycling Cardboard