Recycling is a three-step process – that’s why the recycling symbol has three chasing arrows:
- Step 1: Collection, when you put your recyclables in the recycling bin or take them to a recycling collection site.
- Step 2: Manufacturing, when your recyclables are processed into raw materials for new products
- Step 3: Buying Recycled, when you buy products from recycled materials.
- Recycling will only work when all three steps occur; that’s why it’s commonly referred to as “closing the loop.”
- You aren’t really recycling unless you are buying recycled. Buying recycled means purchasing items that are made from recycled materials – materials that were used once, recycled and made into something else.
Buyer Beware: Recycled Content vs. Recyclable
Not all products marked with the recycling symbol or that make claims such as "environmentally friendly," "eco-safe," "safe for the environment," or "natural" are made with recycled content or can be recycled in your community.
When shopping, look for labels indicating the item contains recycled content and know the basic definitions:
Recycled Products You Can Buy
Buying recycled is easier than you think. Most retailers carry recycled-content products at competitive prices. The list of recycled-content products is seemingly endless. Some examples of products made with recycled materials:
Home and Office
Building and Construction Materials
Advantages of Buying Recycled
Buying recycled saves energy. It usually takes less energy to make a new product out of an old product. Example: It takes about 95 percent less energy to make a new aluminum can out of recycled aluminum than newly extracted natural resources (bauxite ore).
Buying recycled protects the environment. In most cases, making products from recycled materials creates less air and water pollution than making them from newly extracted natural resources.
Buying recycled saves landfill space and reduces the need to build landfills and incinerators.
Buying recycled saves money and creates jobs. The recycling process creates far more jobs than landfills or incinerators and recycling often is the least expensive waste management option.