Waste is directly linked to human development, both technologically and socially. The compositions of different wastes have varied over time and location, with industrial development and innovation being directly linked to waste materials. An example of this includes plastics and nuclear technology. Some components of waste have economical value and can be recycled once correctly recovered.
Waste is sometimes a subjective concept, because items that some people discard may have value to others. It is widely recognized that waste materials are a valuable resource, whilst there is debate as to how this value is best realized.
Such concepts are colloquially expressed in western culture by such idioms as "One man's trash is another man's treasure."