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Solid Waste in New England

Definitions for the Purpose of This Guide

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's solid waste hierarchy, as outlined in the 1989 Agenda for Action, is: reduce/reuse, recycle (including compost), incineration with energy recovery and landfilling. For the purpose of this guide the following definitions have been compiled from various sources:

A synonym for commodities, goods, or products.

Materials Exchange:
A network "service" that helps to redirect unwanted equipment, overruns, rejects, and other materials from businesses to other businesses, not-for-profits, schools, community groups, and others that need the materials. These material exchanges usually have a catalog or computer listing of materials wanted and materials available and often have a staff available to help facilitate the exchange of materials. This term is often used synonymously with "waste exchange."

A process of collecting a product or material, separating and processing it and then returning it to the economic mainstream in the form of raw materials; or remelting into a new finished good.

A process of making "cosmetic" changes to update the appearance of a product, such as cleaning, changing fabric, painting or refinishing. This term is often associated with used office furniture and differs from remanufacturing in that none of the structural parts of the product are replaced.

The process of restoring used durable products to "new" condition, to be used in their original function, by replacing worn or damaged parts.

The use of a product or material again for the same purpose. in its original form or with little enhancement or change.

Source Reduction:
The practice of reducing the amount of materials used through redesigning products, changing manufacturing processes, changing purchasing habits, and reusing materials, in order to minimize the quantity and/or toxicity of waste produced from a product or process. This term is often used synonymously with "waste reduction."

Waste Exchange:
A network "service" functioning the same way as a "materials exchange," redirecting waste materials back into the manufacturing or reuse process by matching companies generating specific wastes with companies that use those wastes as manufacturing inputs. This term is often used synonymously with "materials exchange."

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