What is the difference between Institutional and Industrial waste?

May 30, 2016

Institutional and industrial waste are classifications of refuse based on where they originate. Institutional waste is waste produced from institutions such as schools, hospitals, or prisons. These include waste not typically found in households but also hazardous wastes in some circumstances. Industrial waste is refuse produced by industries such as factories, foundries, or mills. These wastes include liquid, sludge, solid, and hazardous waste, but not domestic. Because both clarifications deal with hazardous waste, it is important for both institutions and industries to make sure this type of waste is handled appropriately and safely.

Both federal and state/provincial governments will institute policies – such as the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) in the United States and the Canadian Environment Protection Act in Canada – to outline how institutions will handle and dispose of hazardous wastes properly. In the past, hazardous waste was just dumped into landfills with non-hazardous waste under the assumption that it was all the same. However, after years of dumping, it was discovered that this type of waste caused damage to not only the environment, but also to humans.

Incidents such as the one at Love Canal, New York, showed that poor management of hazardous waste could lead to birth defects and forms of cancer due to it not being disposed of in a way that would prevent it from being exposed to humans. Policies like the RCRA were introduced to ensure that hazardous waste is disposed in a safe manner.


“Industrial Waste.” Defined Term. https://definedterm.com/industrial_waste. Accessed May 11, 2016.

“Institutional Waste.” Defined Term. https://definedterm.com/institutional_waste. Accessed May 11, 2016.

Stenzel, Paulette L. “Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.” Refference for Business. http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/encyclopedia/Res-Sec/Resource-Conservation-and-Recovery-Act.html. Accessed May 6, 2016.