Light industry

Light industry are industries that usually are less capital-intensive than heavy industry and are more consumer-oriented than business-oriented, as they typically produce smaller consumer goods. Most light industry products are produced for end users rather than as intermediates for use by other industries. Light industry facilities typically have less environmental impact than those associated with heavy industry. For that reason zoning laws are more likely to permit light industry near residential areas.[1]

Bakery store

One definition states that light industry is a "manufacturing activity that uses moderate amounts of partially processed materials to produce items of relatively high value per unit weight".[2]


Light industries require fewer raw materials, space and power. While light industry typically causes little pollution, particularly compared to heavy industry, some light industry can cause significant pollution or risk of contamination. For example, electronics manufacturing, itself often a light industry, can create potentially harmful levels of lead or chemical wastes in soil without proper handling of solder and waste products (such as cleaning and degreasing agents used in manufacture).

Industry sectorsEdit

Marysville Nestle R&D
A manufacturing device typical of light industry (a print machine).

General-use productsEdit

  • Kitchen and dining products
  • Beauty and personal care
  • Home textiles
  • Cleaning and storage
  • Clock, watch and eyewear
  • Gardening and entertainment
  • Baby goods
  • Household sundries
  • Advertising and packaging


The Oxford English Dictionary traces the use of the term "light industry" from 1916 onwards.[3]

Within the later stages of the Industrial Revolution, the development of light industry tended to precede that of heavy industry.[4]


  1. ^ O'Sullivan, Arthur (2003). Economics: Principles in Action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Pearson Prentice Hall. pp. 493. ISBN 0-13-063085-3.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  2. ^ "Light Industry Law And Legal Definition". US Legal. Retrieved 26 Apr 2018.
  3. ^ "light industry". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  4. ^ Grinin, Leonid E. (2020). "Kondratieff Waves, Technological Modes, and the Theory of Production Revolutions". In Grinin, Leonid E.; Korotayev, Andrey V. (eds.). History & Mathematics: Investigating Past and Future. Volgograd: Издательство "Учитель". p. 53. ISBN 9785705759101. Retrieved 4 July 2022. First, there appeared an industrial factory sector (mainly light industry), then the branches of the first processing cycle (steelmaking and iron smelting) and transport, and then the second processing cycle (manufacturing, chemical industry, and heavy engineering) develop especially rapidly. [...] This trend was common both in England and in other industrialized countries [...].