The Recycling Process

The recycling process involves 3 main steps, which form a circle or loop. They are (1) collecting the recyclables, (2) processing the recyclables and turning them into recycled-content products, and (3) purchasing recycled products.

All three steps are crucial for the loop to be closed. Should any of the steps be missing, the benefits of recycling would be greatly reduced.

The 3 steps are applicable to all recyclables. Nonetheless, Step 2 of the process may vary in method for different types of recyclables.

Several factors are critical to the success of this process. To be certain that your efforts truly make a difference, you must read more about the factors for recycling success!

The 3 main steps in the process of recycling are described in greater detail as follows:

Step 1. Collection

In the first step of the recycling process, the recyclables materials are collected.

The methods of collection may vary from community to community. However, there are four main methods of collection, namely curbside, drop-off centers, buy-back centers, and deposit/refund programs.

After collection, the recyclables are then sent to a materials-recovery facility to be sorted and prepared into marketable commodities to be sold to processing companies.

Step 2. Processing

In the second step of the recycling process, the recyclables are processed. Once cleaned and sorted, the recyclables are processed to retrieve the raw materials, and the raw materials are then used in manufacturing recycled-content products.

All recyclables need to broken down, melted or liquefied into its basic elements, before it can be either made directly into new materials or mixed with virgin resources and made into new materials.

However, the method of processing for different materials varies. For example, recyclables like glass, aluminum cans and steel need to be melted into a liquid form and then remolded into new products. Recyclables such as glass, paper and certain plastic products may have to be crushed, or shredded, as part of the processing to extract the basic elements or raw materials (eg. fibre in paper) for use in making new products.

Step 3. Purchasing Recycled Products

The third step involves purchasing recycled products. This third step completes the recycling loop.

More and more of today's products are being manufactured with total or partial recycled content. (Read more about some of these green products).

Whether you are just an individual consumer, or are a part of a government or business organization, you have an important role in making recycling a success by “buying recycled”. As consumers demand more environmentally sound products, manufacturers will continue to meet that demand by producing high-quality recycled products.

Share your interesting facts on recycling

Share with us if you know of any interesting statistic or historical fact about recycling.

Return from this page on The Recycling Process to page on What is Recycling?

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