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Anaerobic digestion The breakdown of organic waste in the absence of oxygen. Produces a useful biogas (mainly methane) and a solid digestate that can be composted to produce a soil improver.
Aarhus Convention Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environment Matters
A UN Convention widely recognized as the world’s foremost international instrument promoting access to environmental information, public participation in environmental decision-making,and access to justice in environmental matters.
The convention has been ratified by most European states and by the EU itself. Ireland is a signatory of the convention but has not yet ratified it. Click here to view a simplified guide to the convention.
Ash The solid residue formed after something is burned or incinerated.
Cleaner production Changes to the design, manufacturing, packaging, purchasing, and use of products so as to reduce or eliminate the amount and toxicity of waste throughout the product life cycle.
Composting The decomposition of biodegradable waste, in the presence of oxygen, to produce compost that improves soil structure and enriches its nutrient content.
Dioxin Refers to a group of chemical compounds from three closely-related families: dibenzo-p-dioxins (CDDs), chlorinated dibenzofurans (CDFs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). One of the most well known (and most toxic) forms of dioxin is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, or TCDD.
Dioxins are formed as a by-product of combustion processes such as waste incineration and burning fuel.
Studies show that short-term exposure to high levels of dioxins may result in skin and altered liver function. Long-term exposure is linked to impairment of the immune system, the developing nervous system, the endocrine system and reproductive functions. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) categorises dioxin as a “known human carcinogen".
Dispose Landfilling or incinerating waste that cannot be eliminated, reused, or recycled. The lowest priority in the Waste Hierarchy.
Fluidised bed incinerator An incinerator that uses a bed of hot sand or other granular material to transfer heat directly to waste.
Hazardous waste Waste that is dangerous, or capable of having harmful effects on human health and the environment. For example, flammable, explosive, oxidising, corrosive, toxic, ecotoxic, radioactive or infectious materials.
Incineration The burning of waste at high temperatures in the presence of sufficient air to achieve complete combustion, either to reduce its volume or its toxicity.
Minimising Minimising any waste that cannot be prevented, through cleaner production, reuse, or recycling.
Prevention Preventing the creation of waste in the first place is the top priority in the Waste Hierarchy. Key to waste prevention is the concept of Cleaner Production. This involves changes to the design, manufacturing, packaging, purchasing, and use of products so as to reduce or eliminate the amount and toxicity of waste throughout the product life cycle.
Recover energy Recovering energy from waste, typically by incineration. However, it is important to know that recycling saves more energy that can be generated by incineration, and that incineration is not the only way to transform waste to energy. For example, using landfill gases as fuel, anaerobic digestion, and composting are also waste-to-energy processes.
Recycling Collecting and remanufacturing products as the same thing or as part of a different product.
Reusing Extending the life of a product by repairing, modifying, or creating new uses for it, generally in its original form.
Sustainable waste management Using material resources efficiently to cut down on the amount of waste produced. And, where waste is generated, dealing with it in a way that actively contributes to the economic, social and environmental goals of sustainable development.
Thermal Inversion Thermal inversion occurs when a layer of warm air settles over a layer of cooler air that lies near the ground. The warm air holds down the cool air and prevents pollutants from rising and scattering. Click here for animated diagram.
Waste Hierarchy This principle is at the heart of EU, National, and County policy. It sets out a hierarchy of options for dealing with waste, with prevention as the highest priority and disposal (thermal treatment and landfill) as a last resort.
Waste stream The flow of waste material from source to disposal.
Zero Waste A goal that is being embraced by businesses and governments worldwide – in particular, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and some US states. It aims to change the one-way flow of materials through society to a circular system that ensures that products are made to be reused, repaired, or recycled.

Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishop's Road, Cobh, Co. Cork
Tel - 021 481 5564      Email -
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