Recycling bins in Singapore
Manual waste sorting for recycling
Emptying of segregated rubbish containers in Polish medium-sized city Tomaszów Mazowiecki

Waste sorting is the process by which waste is separated into different elements.[1] Waste sorting can occur manually at the household and collected through curbside collection schemes, or automatically separated in materials recovery facilities or mechanical biological treatment systems. Hand sorting was the first method used in the history of waste sorting.[2] Waste can also be sorted in a civic amenity site.

Waste segregation is the division of waste into dry and wet. Dry waste includes wood and related products, metals and glass. Wet waste typically refers to organic waste usually generated by eating establishments and are heavy in weight due to dampness. With segregation, each form of waste goes into its category at the point of dumping or collection, but sorting happens after dumping or collection. Segregation of waste ensures pure, quality material. Sorting on the other hand will end up producing impure materials with less quality.

These days, automatic waste segregators are gaining popularity and are already being used in many parts of the world like Australia.


Recycling point at the Gdańsk University of Technology

Waste is collected at its source in each area and separated. The way that waste is sorted must reflect local disposal systems. The following categories are common:[3]

Organic waste can also be segregated for disposal:

Mechanisms for automated sorting

See also: Materials recovery facility § Process, and Recycling § Sorting

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2022)

Automation of municipal solid waste sorting process is an active research area.[4] Notable mechanisms for automated sorting include:

By country

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Characteristic containers for recycling in Portovenere, Italy
Garbage containers in Fuchū, Tokyo, Japan

In Germany, regulations exist that provide mandatory quotas for the waste sorting of packaging waste and recyclable materials such as glass bottles.[20]

In Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, a pilot project using an automated collecting machine of plastic bottles or aluminium cans with voucher reward has been implemented in a market.[21]

In India, the government inaugurated the Swachh Bharat Mission ("Clean India Mission") in 2014, a nationwide cleanup effort. Before this national consolidated effort for systematic and total waste management came into common consciousness, many cities and towns in India had already launched individual efforts directed at municipal waste collection of segregated waste, either based on citizen activism and/or municipal efforts to set up sustainable systems.[22]

In Ukraine, people are learning to sort garbage. Garbage is sorted in schools and kindergartens in Khmelnitsky.[23][24]

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that the infrastructure for recycling waste has not kept pace with the rate of waste production.[25]

In Australia, Smart Bins have been introduced as a solution for waste management issues that the country faces. The AI-powered smart bin is equipped to segregate recyclables all by itself. Experts also claim that a smart bin like this may also increase waste-recovery rates in the country and help produce better quality recyclable products that will add to Australia's GDP.


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2022)

In terms of plastic waste sorting and recycling, an estimated 9% of the estimated 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste from the 1950s up to 2018 has been recycled and another 12% has been incinerated with the rest reportedly being "dumped in landfills or the natural environment".[26]

See also


  1. ^ Garbage sorting plan | Shanghai Daily
  2. ^ Aluminum Recycling, Second Edition - Mark E. Schlesinger. pp. 75-76.
  3. ^ Martin F.Lemann: Waste Management, 2008, p. 80, ISBN 9783039115143, Peter Lang
  4. ^ a b c d e Gundupalli, Sathish Paulraj; Hait, Subrata; Thakur, Atul (1 February 2017). "A review on automated sorting of source-separated municipal solid waste for recycling". Waste Management. 60: 56–74. Bibcode:2017WaMan..60...56G. doi:10.1016/j.wasman.2016.09.015. ISSN 0956-053X. PMID 27663707.
  5. ^ Qureshi, Muhammad Saad; Oasmaa, Anja; Pihkola, Hanna; Deviatkin, Ivan; Tenhunen, Anna; Mannila, Juha; Minkkinen, Hannu; Pohjakallio, Maija; Laine-Ylijoki, Jutta (1 November 2020). "Pyrolysis of plastic waste: Opportunities and challenges". Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis. 152: 104804. doi:10.1016/j.jaap.2020.104804. ISSN 0165-2370. S2CID 200068035.
  6. ^ Zorpas, Antonis A. (1 April 2016). "Sustainable waste management through end-of-waste criteria development". Environmental Science and Pollution Research. 23 (8): 7376–7389. doi:10.1007/s11356-015-5990-5. ISSN 1614-7499. PMID 26690583. S2CID 36643191.
  7. ^ Ulrich, Viola (6 November 2019). "Plastikmüll und Recycling: Acht Mythen und Irrtümer". DIE WELT (in German). Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  8. ^ Brooks, Amy L.; Wang, Shunli; Jambeck, Jenna R. (June 2018). "The Chinese import ban and its impact on global plastic waste trade". Science Advances. 4 (6): eaat0131. Bibcode:2018SciA....4..131B. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aat0131. PMC 6010324. PMID 29938223.
  9. ^ "Turkey to ban plastic waste imports". The Guardian. 19 May 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  10. ^ Lee, Yen Nee (25 January 2019). "Malaysia, following in China's footsteps, bans imports of plastic waste". CNBC. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  11. ^ "Cambodia probes Chinese firm over illegal waste imports". Reuters. 19 July 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  12. ^ "Thailand to ban imports of high-tech trash, plastic waste". Reuters. 16 August 2018. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  13. ^ Green, Adam (1 July 2020). "Recyclers turn to AI robots after waste import bans". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  14. ^ "'Waste colonialism': world grapples with west's unwanted plastic". The Guardian. 31 December 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Breakthrough in separating plastic waste: Machines can now distinguish 12 different types of plastic". Aarhus University. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  16. ^ Henriksen, Martin L.; Karlsen, Celine B.; Klarskov, Pernille; Hinge, Mogens (1 January 2022). "Plastic classification via in-line hyperspectral camera analysis and unsupervised machine learning". Vibrational Spectroscopy. 118: 103329. doi:10.1016/j.vibspec.2021.103329. ISSN 0924-2031. S2CID 244913832.
  17. ^ Karaca, Ali Can; Erturk, Alp; Gullu, M. Kemal; Elmas, M.; Erturk, Sarp (June 2013). "Automatic waste sorting using shortwave infrared hyperspectral imaging system". 2013 5th Workshop on Hyperspectral Image and Signal Processing: Evolution in Remote Sensing (WHISPERS). pp. 1–4. doi:10.1109/WHISPERS.2013.8080744. ISBN 978-1-5090-1119-3. S2CID 37092593.
  18. ^ "Optical sorting technology for textile waste – Development of an identification method with NIR spectroscopy" (PDF). 2017.
  19. ^ Zhu, Shichao; Chen, Honghui; Wang, Mengmeng; Guo, Xuemei; Lei, Yu; Jin, Gang (1 April 2019). "Plastic solid waste identification system based on near infrared spectroscopy in combination with support vector machine". Advanced Industrial and Engineering Polymer Research. 2 (2): 77–81. doi:10.1016/j.aiepr.2019.04.001. ISSN 2542-5048. S2CID 146666866.
  20. ^ Germany, Garbage and the Green Dot: Challenging a Throwaway Society - Bette K. Fishbein. pp. 16-17.
  21. ^ "Satu-satunya di Indonesia, Mesin Sampah Keluarkan Voucher ada di Denpasar". July 31, 2015.
  22. ^ Reddy, Dhana Raju (2021). "Waste Management in India – An Overview" (PDF). United International Journal for Research & Technology (UIJRT). 02 (7): 175–196. ISSN 2582-6832.
  23. ^ "Хмельничан навчатимуть, як сортувати вдома сміття". (in Ukrainian). 24 November 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-30.
  24. ^ Ecobin
  25. ^ OLEM (2019-04-17). "The U.S. Recycling System". US EPA. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  26. ^ News, WION (September 13, 2022). "Australia introduces smart bins as a solution for waste management | Latest News | WION". Retrieved November 3, 2023. ((cite web)): |last= has generic name (help)