There are three steps:
COLLECTION AND PROCESSING
The recycling loop begins with collection. Collecting recyclables varies from community
to community, but there are five primary methods: curbside pre-sorted collection,
curbside unsorted collection, drop-off centers, buy-back centers, and deposit/refund
programs. When you separate the recyclables, it is called pre-sorted; when your
collector sorts them out from the trash, it is called unsorted. There is even a difference between sorting into separate categories (multi-stream) versus commingling into one (single stream). Contact your hauler for specific recycling guidelines for your area.
Regardless of how recyclables are collected, the next leg of their journey is
usually the same. Recyclables are delivered to a materials recovery facility to
be processed and prepared into marketable commodities for manufacturing. Recyclables
are bought and sold just like any other commodity, and prices for the materials
change and fluctuate with market conditions.
Once cleaned and separated, recyclables are ready to undergo the second part
of the recycling loop. More and more of today's products are being manufactured
with total or partial recycled content. Common household items that contain recycled
materials include newspapers, paper towels, aluminum, plastic, glass, steel cans,
cardboard, carpeting, and much more. Recycled materials are also used in innovative
applications such as recovered plastic in carpeting, park benches, and pedestrian
PURCHASING RECYCLED PRODUCTS
Purchasing recycled products completes the recycling loop. By "buying recycled,"
governmental agencies, as well as businesses and individual consumers, all play
an important role in making the recycling process a success. As consumers demand
more environmentally-sound products, manufacturers will continue to meet that demand
by producing high-quality recycled products. You're not really recycling until you
make the commitment to buy recycled products, too!
YOU DO A LOT OF GOOD WHEN YOU RECYCLE
Recycling is perhaps the best thing you can do to reduce green house gases which
contribute to global climatic change. Recycling also reduces the emissions of many
air and water pollutants, saves energy, supplies valuable raw materials to industry,
creates jobs, stimulates the development of greener technologies, generates less
solid waste, reduces litter, conserves natural resources for future generations,
and reduces the need for new landfills.