What is Recycling?

Wondering what is recycling about?

I believe the term “recycling” is no stranger to many of us.

We would have at least some vague ideas of what recycling is about about, either through school, media or even our immediate community. In fact, some of us have already made recycling a way of life.

And not surprisingly, in many parts of the world, communities have already embraced the idea of recycling their unwanted materials for the various benefits of recycling (read more about the efforts of the various communities).

In simple language, what is recycling about is simply giving old or used things a new lease of life, by making new things out of the old materials.

Recycling is a key and third component of the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" waste hierarchy, which comprises three elements, reduce, reuse and recycle.

Unlike reducing or re-using, recycling involves the processing of the old or used materials.

The old or used materials are broken down into their basic elements (eg. fibre in paper), which are then used as the raw materials for other fresh and new items. In turn, the recycling processes for different materials differ.

The recycling process

What is recycling process like?

The recycling process involves a series of activities, including collecting the recyclables, sorting and processing the recyclable materials into raw materials such as fibers, and manufacturing new products out of these raw materials.

Subsequently, the purchasing of products made from recycled materials creates a circle or loop, and is critical to the overall value and success of recycling.

Read about the recycling process in greater details.

Factors for success in recycling

The following factors describe what is recycling success determined by. These factors are very important if our recycling efforts are to make a difference.

  1. Products designed for recycling – For recycling to be possible in the first place, products must be designed with recycling or environmental protection in mind.
  2. Recyclable collection – To ensure that there is a constant supply of recyclables for the recycling process, recyclables need to be systematically collected from their sources (eg. households, schools, etc). They need to be separated from trash and other wastes to prevent contamination, and sorted by type of material to facilitate processing.
  3. Processing – The recyclable materials collected need to be sorted by the type of material to facilitate processing, and need to be broken down into its basic elements, and then be reused as raw materials to produce new products.
  4. Demand for recycled products – The “Recycling Cycle” will only be completed when the new products are put to use. As much as it is important to send your recyclable items for recycling, it is also important to use recycled products to ensure that recycling becomes a economically viable activity within your community.

Tips on recycling

Read about tips on recycling.

Also, read about what other readers have contributed on recycling tips.

And if you have recycling experiences of your own, tell us what you think is the most useful tip on recycling that others can benefit from.

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