AskDefine | Define wastefulness

Dictionary Definition



1 the trait of wasting resources; "a life characterized by thriftlessness and waste"; "the wastefulness of missed opportunities" [syn: thriftlessness, waste]
2 useless or profitless activity; using or expending or consuming thoughtlessly or carelessly; "if the effort brings no compensating gain it is a waste"; "mindless dissipation of natural resources" [syn: waste, dissipation]

User Contributed Dictionary



wasteful + -ness

Extensive Definition

Waste, is an unwanted or undesired material or substance. It is also referred to as rubbish, trash, garbage, or junk depending upon the type of material and the regional terminology. In living organisms, waste relates to unwanted substances or toxins that are expelled from them.
Waste management is the human control of the collection, treatment and disposal of different wastes. This is in order to reduce the negative impacts waste has on environment and society.
Waste is directly linked to the human development, both technologically and socially. The composition of different wastes have varied over time and location. With industrial development and innovation being directly linked to waste materials. Examples of this include plastics and nuclear technology. Some components of waste have economical value and can be recycled once correctly recovered.
Biodegradable waste such as food waste or sewage, is broken down naturally by microorganisms either aerobically or anaerobically. If the disposal of biodegradable waste is not controlled it can cause a number of wider problems including contributing to the release of greenhouse gases and can impact upon human health via encouragement of pathogens.
It is difficult to define specifically what a waste is. Items that some people discard have value to others. It is widely recognised that waste materials are a valuable resource, whilst there is debate as to how this value is best realised. Governments need to define what waste is in order that it can be safely and legally managed. Different definitions need to be combined in order to ensure the safe and legal disposal of the waste.

Environmental impact

Many different types of waste have negative impacts upon the wider environment.
Waste pollution is considered a serious threat by many and can broadly be defined as any pollution associated with waste and waste management practices. Typical materials that are found in household waste which have specific environmental impacts with them include biodegradable wastes, batteries, aerosols, oils, acids and fluorescent tubes.
As a nation, Americans generate more waste than any other nation in the world with 4.5 pounds of municipal solid waste (MSW) per person per day, 55 percent of which is contributed as residential garbage. The remaining 45 percent of waste in the U.S.'s ‘waste stream' comes from manufacturing, retailing, and commercial trade in the U.S. economy .
Biodegradable waste is of specific concern as breaks down in landfills to form methane, a potent greenhouse gas. If this gas is not prevented from entering the atmosphere, by implication, it contributes to climate change.
Littering can be considered the most visible form of solid waste pollution. The act of littering for the most part constitutes disposing of waste inappropriately, typically in public places. Littering itself may or may not be an intentional action.
Other forms of pollution associated with waste materials include illegal dumping and leaching. Illegal dumping of flytipping often involves unregulated disposal of materials on private or public land. Remoted sites with road access coupled with limited surveillance often provides the perfect opportunity for this form of dumping which often goes unpunished and leaves others (such as the community or developer) to properly dispose of the waste.
Leaching is a process by which contaminants from solid waste enter soil and often ground water systems contaminating them.


The European Union defines waste as an object the holder discards, intends to discard or is required to discard is waste under the Waste Framework Directive (European Directive 75/442/EC as amended). Once a substance or object has become waste, it will remain waste until it has been fully recovered and no longer poses a potential threat to the environment or to human health."'
The UK's Environmental Protection Act 1990 indicated waste includes any substance which constitutes a scrap material, an effluent or other unwanted surplus arising from the application of any process or any substance or article which requires to be disposed of which has been broken, worn out, contaminated or otherwise spoiled; this is supplemented with anything which is discarded otherwise dealt with as if it were waste shall be presumed to be waste unless the contrary is proved. This definition was amended by the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 defining waste as:
"any substance or object which the producer or the person in possession of it, discards or intends or is required to discard but with exception of anything excluded from the scope of the Waste Directive".


There is a cultural dimension to waste. Wasting time, money, or food involves moral judgements that carry a great deal of weight in human interaction. Attitudes to this wastage differ between different societies.
For example, food may be wasted in one part of the world while there may be famine elsewhere. Chefs from a particular culinary tradition may prize cuts of meat that chefs in other traditions will dispose of. A parent may regard a child's career in a rock band as a waste of their education, though this opinion may not necessarily be shared by the child. The frivolous expenditure of money may be described as "wasting money" independently of the economic underpinning of the transactions concerned.
wastefulness in Arabic: قمامة
wastefulness in Guarani: Yty
wastefulness in Aymara: T'una
wastefulness in Bulgarian: Боклук
wastefulness in Czech: Odpad
wastefulness in Welsh: Sbwriel
wastefulness in Danish: Affald
wastefulness in German: Abfall
wastefulness in Spanish: Basura
wastefulness in Esperanto: Rubo
wastefulness in Persian: زباله
wastefulness in French: Déchet
wastefulness in Galician: Lixo
wastefulness in Korean: 쓰레기
wastefulness in Croatian: Otpad
wastefulness in Indonesian: Sampah
wastefulness in Italian: Rifiuti
wastefulness in Hebrew: פסולת
wastefulness in Lombard: Rumenta
wastefulness in Hungarian: Hulladék
wastefulness in Dutch: Afval (vuilnis)
wastefulness in Japanese: 廃棄物
wastefulness in Norwegian: Avfall
wastefulness in Norwegian Nynorsk: Søppel
wastefulness in Polish: Odpady
wastefulness in Portuguese: Resíduo
wastefulness in Quechua: Q'upa
wastefulness in Russian: Мусор
wastefulness in Simple English: Waste
wastefulness in Slovak: Odpad
wastefulness in Slovenian: Odpadek
wastefulness in Serbian: Отпад
wastefulness in Serbo-Croatian: Otpad
wastefulness in Finnish: Roska
wastefulness in Swedish: Avfall
wastefulness in Thai: ขยะมูลฝอย
wastefulness in Turkish: Çöp
wastefulness in Ukrainian: Відходи
wastefulness in Venetian: Scoazse
wastefulness in Yiddish: מיסט
wastefulness in Contenese: 垃圾
wastefulness in Chinese: 垃圾
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