Municipal solid waste (MSW) is a waste type that includes predominantly household waste (domestic waste) with sometimes the addition of commercial wastes collected by a municipality within a given area. They are in either solid or semisolid form and generally exclude industrial hazardous wastes. The term residual waste relates to waste left from household sources containing materials that have not been separated out or sent for reprocessing .
There are five broad categories of MSW:
- Biodegradable waste: food and kitchen waste, green waste, paper (can also be recycled).
- Recyclable material: paper, glass, bottles, cans, metals, certain plastics, etc.
- Inert waste: construction and demolition waste, dirt, rocks, debris.
- Composite wastes: waste clothing, Tetra Paks, waste plastics such as toys.
- Domestic hazardous waste (also called "household hazardous waste") & toxic waste: medication, paints, chemicals, light bulbs, fluorescent tubes, spray cans, fertilizer and pesticide containers, batteries, shoe polish.
Solid waste collection
In industrialized countries municipal solid waste is often collected from homes by kerbside collection using purpose-built waste collection vehicles; however, many communities require residents, especially in rural areas, to take their household waste to specified transfer stations. In a few places a proprietary vacuum-based collection device, known as Envac, conveys refuse via underground conduits.
Waste management is sometimes carried out directly by a department of local government, and sometimes by a private company under contract. Disposal of large quantities of commercial and industrial waste is usually the responsibility of the generator.
Solid waste disposal categories
In the United States, the regulatory definition of "solid waste" varies slightly from state to state but does not include hazardous waste generated from commercial, industrial or institutional sources. The solid waste disposal industry divides solid waste into 4 to 6 major categories for disposal depending on the state in which the waste is disposed:
- General Solid Waste or Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is typical waste generated from residential and non-industrial commercial sources.
- Industrial Solid Waste is waste that is the result of a variety of industrial process. That is a process where a new, physical product is manufactured from a set of input materials. Mining and electric power generation are usually included in the industrial category for the purpose of classifying solid waste.
- Residual Solid Waste is a subset of industrial wastes that many U.S. states regulate separately from miscellaneous industrial waste. Residual wastes are wastes or "residue" that are left over from a specific process. Residual wastes tend to be fairly homogeneous in composition and have a relatively lower environmental impact compared to most industrial solid wastes. Residual wastes often have a mineral composition; one example is Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) waste from electric power generation. Because residual wastes are fairly consistent, many states allow the generators of these wastes to dispose of them in captive landfills that are designed only for that particular residual waste.
- Construction and Demolition Debris (C&DD), as the name suggests, are the result of the construction and/or demolition of roads, buildings or other physical structures. Traditionally these wastes were allowed to be disposed in their own class of landfills because it was believed that they did not pose a serious threat to the environment. Construction and demolition debris landfills were constructed to less stringent standards than general solid waste landfills. However, abuses of the system, and new data showing adverse environmental impacts from C&DD landfills, have led to increasing regulations on the disposal of C&DD. 
- Infectious Wastes may include things like hospital waste, animal carcasses, or any other waste with the potential to spread infectious diseases.
- Asbestos Waste: In the United States, many people are surprised to find that many states do not regulate asbestos the way they regulate most other hazardous wastes. This is because asbestos is fairly inert chemically, and when buried in the ground it poses a minimal environmental threat. In fact, asbestos was commonly used to filter beer in the brewing industry.. The primary health threat from asbestos comes from inhaling the microscopic fibers deep into the lung tissue and mesothelium. Since the airborne threat is contained once asbestos is buried, many states allow asbestos to be disposed in landfills with general solid waste, provided the waste is handled with extra safety procedures.
- ^ Mechanical Biological Treatment Welsh Assembly (2005) Mechanical Biological Treatment, Environment Countryside and Planning Website, Welsh Assembly
- ^  Ohio EPA Takes New Approach to Regulating Waste Disposal
- ^ Asbestos exposure in New Zealand