Recycled Materials

Recycling is the process of collecting and processing used materials, that would be thrown away, to turn them into new products.

A landfill compaction vehicle in action
A landfill compaction vehicle in action.

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Introduction of recycling

American poster from World War II.
American poster from World War II. 1942 and circa 1943

Image source:^_Will_Help_Win._Don’t_Mix_it_-_NARA_-_533983.jpg

Although recycling may seem like a modern concept introduced with the environmental movements of the 1970s, it’s actually been around for thousands of years. But, after the industrial age, a large-scale recycling plan was needed to minimize the effects of disposable objects’ mass production on the environment.


Recycling is an important factor in conserving natural resources and greatly contributes towards improving the environment. Recycling also offers a sustainable solution to regular waste streams by lowering our input into municipal landfills and helping extend the expected life of a landfill by decades, drastically lowering our environmental impact. Product development from recycled materials is also the key to maximize the benefits of recycling. This leads to a number of economic opportunities to remanufacture products with the recovered material.

Polluted Beach
Ocean pollution

image source: by NOAA’s National Ocean Service


Recycling is broken down into three steps as follows:

Diagram of the waste hierarchy
Diagram of the waste hierarchy
  • Collecting and processing can be accomplished in several ways: some communities have curbside programs to pick up your recyclables on the street.  Others have community drop off bins that you can stop by and deliver your recycling;
  • Once its recyclate quality is established, the recyclable material will be sorted, cleaned, baled and sent to a plant to be converted to a marketable raw material;
  • Products are made with recycled raw material, returned to the market and purchased by consumers, finishing the recycling loop.

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most common recycled materials

  • Glass
Glass recycling
Glass recycling, 1999

image source: by Seattle Municipal Archives

  • Plastic
Plastic octopus thrown back by the Pacific Ocean
Plastic octopus thrown back by the Pacific Ocean at Gray Whale Cove, California Coast

image source: by Wonderlane

  •  Paper
Paper Recycling
Paper Recycling

image source: by tengrrl

  • Textiles

image source: by Alan Stanton

  • Metal
Old Car
Old Car

image source: by charles cars

  • Organics
Organics Recycling
Organics recycling

image source: by Sweet One

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