Municipal waste is the term applied to domestic waste and domestic-type industrial waste. This includes bulky waste, market waste, road sweepings, faecal matter and sewage sludge. Domestic waste (49,6 million tonnes 2003 in Germany) is the exclusive responsibility of the local authority waste collection system. Households (waste producers) are therefore said to have an obligation to hand over their waste to the municipal waste management enterprises, for example the local authorities. Waste is collected from the households. The local authorities see to environmentally sound management of the waste.
For domestic-type industrial waste there is an ordinance in force since the end of the year 2002. Besides there are regulations in Germany to separately collect and recycle special wastes from households, like glass, paper, packaging or biowastes.
This is waste from trade and industry and from agriculture and forestry (about 46,7 million tonnes 2003). The producer of the waste has individual responsibility for it. He must see to its disposal himself or hand it over to expert private-sector waste management enterprises. If such waste contains contaminants that may involve risks for man and the environment, it must be collected and managed separately.
Urban waste and production waste undergo specific treatment processes to enable them to be reused or disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. These include sorting, chemical / physical treatment, recovery as materials or energy, mechanical/biological treatment, incineration of domestic waste and / or special waste. The waste that cannot be recovered is then deposited on land fill sites.
Meanwhile there are special regulations for the handling of different production wastes like the Commercial Wastes Ordinance, the Waste Oil Ordinance or the Waste Wood Ordinance.
The degree of monitoring of recovery or disposal depends on the pollutant levels in the different types of waste. A distinction is made between:
- Waste not subject to monitoring (this is waste for recovery that does not cause any serious problems during recovery, and especially the reusable components such as paper, cardboard, wood, glass, plastics, metals et cetera)
- Waste subject to monitoring (this means waste for recovery that is listed in a relevant ordinance, and waste for disposal that is not subject to special monitoring. It includes domestic waste, waste tyres, batteries, mixed waste from construction and demolition, sludges from in-plant wastewater treatment)
- Waste subject to special monitoring (this means waste for recovery and waste for disposal that is listed in a relevant ordinance, for example waste paints and varnishes containing halogenated solvents, batteries containing lead, nickel or cadmium, brake fluids, dyes, printing inks, adhesives and synthetic resins, fluorescent lamps, photochemicals, chlorinated machine, gear and lubricating oils).
Waste subject to special monitoring may also occur in private households, as can be seen from the examples.