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Differences Between Commercial and Domestic Waste

Domestic and commercial wastes differ in terms of their collection, management, and legal framework that applies to them. The bodies responsible for the management of these wastes differ as well.

These differences are caused by:

  • The nature of the waste 
  • Waste volumes 
  • Complexity of management

Defining Domestic and Commercial Waste

Domestic waste

We produce domestic or household or residential waste in our day-to-day activities. These activities are not transactional.

Domestic waste can be nonhazardous and includes items such as:

  • Old stationery 
  • Glass jars
  • Paper
  • Vegetable peels 
  • Discarded clothes
  • Newspaper

Or, domestic waste can also be hazardous: 

  • Motor oil
  • Mothballs
  • Paint 
  • Polish
  • Acid cleaners

As you can see, domestic waste isn’t always harmless. The waste generator must ensure that hazardous waste doesn't come into contact with another person or leak into the environment.

Commercial Waste

Commercial waste is generated by the activities of not-for-profit organizations and businesses. It also includes industrial waste.

We can say that all non-domestic waste is commercial waste. It doesn't matter whether the waste is generated in a residential or commercial area. For example, the waste generated by a lawn-mowing company on the premises of the client's home is commercial waste. 


Another unique situation caused by the pandemic. A significant number of people are now working from home than ever before. Their discarded papers, stationery, electronic items, and other work-related waste might technically be classified as commercial waste.

How Much Waste Do We Generate Every Year?

We don't have data on the amount of commercial and domestic waste produced in the U.S. every year, but we do know how much municipal solid waste and industrial waste is generated.

Municipal solid waste (MSW) is waste consisting of everyday items. It comprises both commercial and domestic waste such as paper, wrappers, plastic, clothes, electronics, and other finished goods.

According to the EPA, about 292 million tons of MSW were generated in the U.S. in 2018. The industrial waste produced per year is estimated to be 7.6 billion tons.

This website will help you visualize these numbers.

Storage and Management

Domestic Waste

The storage and management of domestic waste are less complex than it is for commercial waste. A good practice is to segregate the waste in 3 or 4 containers:

  • Recyclable waste like paper and cardboard 
  • General and food waste
  • Cans and bottles
  • Food

Segregating waste makes the work of waste recycling much easier. Think of the consequences if a glass bottle makes its way into textile recycling machinery. It can damage the machinery and injure the workers handling the recycled textile.

Making a product from recycled materials can result in a 20-50% reduction in air pollution compared to making the same product from virgin materials.

The recycling rate in the U.S. in 2018 was 32.1%. In other words, most recyclable waste is dumped into landfills. If we adopt better waste management practices, we can make recycling waste much more feasible for waste management companies.

Read this guide by the EPA to learn what personal steps you can take to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste.

Commercial Waste

Segregating, managing, and disposing of commercial waste requires cooperation among a company’s entire staff. An organization trying to manage its waste production better has to train its employees to dispose of their waste in the right bin.

Generally, commercial bins are larger than domestic bins and collected by a private waste management company on a monthly or biweekly basis.

Businesses work with waste management companies on a contract basis.

Enviro Care can provide you with monthly waste generation reports to help you reduce costs, increase sustainability, and avoid fines. We can also conduct an audit if you find your business activities are generating more waste than anticipated.

Factories, medical institutions, chemical industries, paint manufacturers, paper manufacturers, and several other industries involved in manufacturing produce hazardous waste on a mass scale. It's crucial to store such waste in well-labeled containers to avoid accidents. Some waste management companies like Enviro Care are equipped to transport and facilitate the disposal and recycling of hazardous waste safely.

Contact us If you’re looking to hire a waste management company or want a waste audit conducted at your facility.

Laws for Waste Regulation

Illegal dumping is a serious problem in the U.S. Between 0.14 to 0.41 metric tonnes of plastic waste was dumped illegally across the U.S. in 2016.

Punishments for illegal dumping can include imprisonment and fines ranging between $50-$5,000, depending on the offense. Remember, there are fewer defences for environmental offenses compared to criminal offenses.

Other penalties for illegal dumping include:

  • Probation
  • Remediation
  • Restitution 
  • Communal service

Household waste generators are subject to the rules and regulations of state or local laws.

The EPA regulates commercial and industrial waste. Their website has information on waste and the management of various types of wastes such as:

  • Waste produced in mining and mineral processing
  • Hazardous wastes
  • Lead-based paint
  • Chemical waste
  • PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)

One of the EPA’s jobs is to conduct regular industrial visits to make sure that businesses are following waste management guidelines. Fines for defaulters can run as high as $93,750. The EPA has the authority to prosecute businesses and individuals who refuse to comply.

Authority Responsible for Waste Pick-up and Management

Domestic waste can be picked up by the following services:

  • Municipal & government waste removal services
  • Private waste management companies
  • Third-parties hired by the government

Citizens are charged for waste pick-up in the following ways:

  • Directly payment for the service
  • Tax
  • Fees included in rent

Commercial waste is mainly managed by private companies. The business is responsible for ensuring that the waste management company they choose employs best practices.

The business can get an audit before hiring a waste management company to get an idea of how much waste they are producing and what kind of help they need.

Enviro Care Can Help With Waste Management 

Enviro Care offers hazardous and non-hazardous waste transportation services for businesses. Our expert team can gauge your needs and offer you a custom program to meet your requirements.

We focus on proper waste recycling and disposal and implement programs that will benefit your business in the long term. Contact us today!