Go back

Types of industrial waste and management

For years, the accumulation of industrial waste has been a reality, due to the activities that people carry out on a daily basis. The management of this waste is essential and must be done properly, otherwise it could cause serious problems for the environment. That is why today we are talking about the types of industrial waste and its subsequent management.

EN residuos

What is industrial waste?

Industrial waste is all waste arising from the manufacturing, transformation, cleaning, use, maintenance or consumption processes generated by industries or industrial activity, except for atmospheric emissions, which are specifically regulated by Law 34/2007 of 15 November.

The truth is that all industrial production generates undesirable by-products, i.e. hazardous waste or non-hazardous waste, but which, due to their origin, must be managed and handled appropriately in order to prevent them from impacting, as far as possible, on our environment and also on human beings.

Some examples of industrial waste could be waste oils, solvents, plastics, glass wastepaper waste, debris, batteries, etc.

Types of industrial waste

All waste and residues are regulated. However, how it is managed depends on the type of waste and where it comes from. That is why it is essential to know the classification of industrial waste, which is explained below:

Inert waste

Inert waste (or more commonly known as non-hazardous waste) is waste which, due to its characteristics, is generally non-threatening and does not pose a risk to the environment or to human and animal life. They do not require any treatment prior to storage. This classification includes rubble, scrap, ashes or glass.

Urban waste or urban assimilable waste

This classification includes waste generated by activities located in towns, office areas, industrial sectors and services. Also called municipal solid waste (MSW), the most common are organic waste, cardboard and plastic containers and packaging.

Hazardous waste

These wastes are considered hazardous because they are harmful and detrimental to human health, as well as having negative effects on the environment, as they are highly corrosive, flammable and toxic.

Because they have these special characteristics, they require specific treatment and disposal processes for each toxic waste material. Many companies do not manage these wastes well, managing them all under the same method, when each of them has its own process.

How industrial waste is managed

Whether hazardous or non-hazardous, industrial waste must be kept in optimal conditions until it handed over to an authorised waste manager. It must also be transported by a registered waste carrier and all costs must be paid.

Industrial waste management encompasses the collection, transport, treatment and recycling of waste materials produced by industrial activity.


This is the first stage of the waste management process. It can be carried out by means of containers, lorries, compactors or any other method that facilitates the collection of waste.

There are two types of collection: selective collection and non-selective collection. The former collects all waste without differentiating between them. The second collects waste according to the type of material involved.


Once the waste material has been collected, the waste is transported to a plant for treatment, either for disposal or storage.


Nowadays, thanks to technology, the negative impact of the waste we generate could be considerably reduced, but these are very expensive treatments. Thus, the treatments used today are mainly the following:

  • Physical, chemical and biological treatment. Waste is transformed into less harmful waste, so that it can be sent to landfill or reused as raw material.
  • Incineration. Only non-toxic waste can pass through this process.
  • Landfilling. Landfills must guarantee that no water is polluted and no toxic gases or products are expelled.


Industrial recycling is a process in which waste, used and discarded materials or elements are transformed into new and useful ones. To do this, they are sorted, cleaned and processed to obtain a good primary material.

We hope that this post on the types of industrial waste and its management has clarified some concepts for you. At ScrapAd, as a platform for scrap metal trading and other materials, we try to be driving agents of the circular economy, which is why we advocate the proper management of all waste.

Discover in our blog information related to the recycling sector, such as the different types of scrap metal or the different types of aluminum. Find out more!

Other posts that may interest you…

We use our own and third-party cookies to obtain statistical data on our users' browsing habits and improve our services.
You can accept our cookies policy or choose the cookies you wish to download from the options.

Cookie configuration