Recycling – is the separation, collection, processing, marketing, and reuse of the unwanted material (paper and yard trimmings are the most common recycled items).

Recycling is growing in the United States
7% in 1970
10% in 1980
17% in 1990
32% in 2005



Pick-up and Processing – Recyclables are collected by curbside, drop-off centers, buy-back centers, and deposit programs.

Curbside programs require consumers to place recyclables at the curb in separate containers.
Drop-off centers require for individuals to leave recyclable materials, containers, at the center location.
Buy-back centers allow consumers to sell their recyclable materials, aluminum cans.
Deposit programs involve the return of glass and aluminum containers to retailers, consumers then get refunded some of their money when container is returned.

There are four major manufacturing sectors accounted for more than half of the recycling activity – paper mills, steel mills, plastic converters, and iron and steel foundries.

Most paper can be recycled and have been (newspapers are recycled paper). The rapid increase of virgin paper pulp prices stimulated the economic need for recycling plants (computer paper).

Plastic recycling is very complex. Different plastic types cannot be mixed together because it can ruin the melt. Plastics marked with a 1 or 2 are commonly recycled and others are not.

Glass is 100% recyclable and can be reused with no loss in quality. The recycling is very efficient produces no by-products. However, unbroken clear glass is valuable, mixed color glass is worthless, and broken glass is hard to sort.

Scrap aluminum is readily accepted for recycling due the manufacturing of aluminum cans for beverages that started in 1950s.

Technology is also recycled. Old cell phones, batteries, television sets are recycled and reused.