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Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum
Where Does Our Garbage Go?

Biodegradable

A material that nature breaks down into small pieces and basic elements by rotting and bacterial action.

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Composting

A process of breaking down food and plant materials (yard wastes) into soil.

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Decomposition

A process of breaking down materials into small pieces and basic elements by rotting and bacterial action.

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Dump (Unregulated)

Disposing of trash on the surface of the ground without adequate safeguards for health, safety, and impact on the environment.

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Garbage

All of the materials that are thrown away. Also called: trash, wastes, etc.

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Incinerator

A place where wastes are burned to reduce the amount that goes to the landfill. The heat produced by burning is used to heat buildings or produce electricity.

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Landfill

A carefully planned, engineered location where garbage is disposed of in a plastic-lined hole in the ground and covered with soil to protect health, safety, and the environment.

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Leachate

Water that has been contaminated by passing through a dump or landfill. New landfills are designed to prevent water leakage.

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Materials Recycling Facility

A place where materials being recycled are sorted and shipped to where they can be made into new items.

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Packaging

A covering for an item that is not a useful part of the item and is thrown away after opening.

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Recyclable Materials

Materials that can be reprocessed and used to make new products.

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Recycled Materials

Products made from recycled materials, may be partially or completely made from recycled materials.

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Recycling

Taking an item that has already been used once, and using it to make either that same item again, or another item.

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Reduce

Using less of an item, using an item with less packaging, or using a more durable item that won't become garbage as quickly so that less waste is produced.

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Reuse

Using an item more than once, rather than using a brand new item.

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Solid Waste

All of the garbage that is produced.

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Tipping Fee

The fee that one must pay to leave wastes at a landfill.

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