Large amounts of waste are generated during production, distribution, and consumption of any product. Over the past three decades, efforts have been made to minimize waste through source reduction, reuse, and treatment in order to achieve cleaner production and prevent pollution. This review summarizes patents related to treatment methods for waste minimization in different industrial sectors that were issued during the last 29 years. Online database maintained by the United States Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO) was searched for this review. The patents were obtained from the USPTO database using the search criterion, by entering the sector name and using the keywords as waste minimization or treatment in the “title and abstracts.” The review provided an overview of various waste minimization techniques for industries, hospitals, biosolids, construction, and agriculture. Also, it provided insight into the developments in reduction of waste over the years. The basic principle in these developments and research are the three Rs in the waste hierarchy: reduce, reuse, and recycle. The patents cover new treatment and disposal processes. The majority of the patents related to waste minimization were found in the industrial, biosolids, and hospital sectors. A trend study on the number of patents issued related to waste minimization techniques in the above sectors showed a gradual increase from 1977 and peaked between 1993 and 2004, and decreased in recent years. The review showed that the research efforts and rapid development of patents associated with the five sectors were predominant between 1993 and 2004.
Keywords: Patents, waste minimization, pollution prevention, disposal of waste, treatment process