Light industry is industry that is usually less capital-intensive than heavy industry, and is more consumer-oriented than business-oriented (i.e., 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, and zoning laws are more likely to permit light industry near residential areas. It is the production of small consumer goods.
One economic 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".
Examples of light industries include the manufacturing of foods, beverages, personal care and home care products, cosmetics, drugs, clothes & shoes, furniture, art ware & crafts, consumer electronics and home appliances. Conversely, industries such as petrochemical industry and shipbuilding would fall under heavy industry.
Light industries require only a small amount of raw materials, area and power. The value of the goods are low and they are easy to transport. The number of products is high. While light industry typically causes little pollution, particularly when compared to heavy industries, some light industry can cause significant pollution or risk of contamination. Electronics manufacturing, itself often a light industry, can create potentially harmful levels of lead or chemical wastes in soil due to improper handling of solder and waste products (such as cleaning and degreasing agents used in manufacture).