What Is the Recycling Industry?

Dan Cavallari

The recycling industry is comprised of any business, corporation, service, person, or entity that is involved in any way with the process of recycling goods or materials. Recycling is the process of collecting unwanted materials and processing them into new materials to be used in a variety of ways. It is done to prevent waste as well as pollution, and the recycling industry may include people who collect waste, process it, repurpose it, deliver it, sell it, or even market it. Other jobs in this industry may include education jobs, lobbying, or manufacturing.

Plastic water bottles can usually be recycled.
Plastic water bottles can usually be recycled.

Some of the more common jobs within the recycling industry involve collecting materials to be recycled. This may mean operating a refuse truck, or it may mean manufacturing receptacles for containing recyclable goods. Coordination of volunteer programs may be necessary, though many businesses have capitalized on recyclable materials. Plastics manufacturers often create and distribute recycling bins or garbage cans for collecting and hauling recyclable goods, and refuse services provide special trucks for picking up and hauling consumer waste that can be recycled.

Glass bottles can be recycled.
Glass bottles can be recycled.

Certain recycling industry services may focus on recycling specific types of items. Electronics recycling, for example, has become a popular business pursuit in which a company will collect unused or broken electronics for repurposing, recycling, or even reselling. The components used in electronics manufacturing can often be stripped from phones, radios, televisions, computers, and so on, and then resold to companies who will use those components in new electronics items. Metal recycling is another popular niche within the recycling industry, as metal can be collected and resold or repurposed fairly easily.

A bag made of recycled paper.
A bag made of recycled paper.

Packaging companies are a part of the recycling industry, since recycled goods often need new packaging or ways of containing the products. Such companies often focus on creating packaging from recycled goods, and advertising or marketing companies often brand such packaging as recycled goods to further promote the environmental friendliness of the product. Marketers and advertisers, in fact, play a crucial role in the recycling industry, both for companies using recycled goods and for the industry itself; promoting the ease and value of recycling to the general public is a common job among marketers and advertisers.

Disposing of broken electronic items is one facet of the recycling industry.
Disposing of broken electronic items is one facet of the recycling industry.

Recycling processing plants are perhaps one of the most important staples of the industry, as these plants are where the actual recycling takes place. Workers in a recycling plant may run machines that will break down recyclable materials, move materials from one location to another, oversee operations, run shipping services, and so on.

Some recycling places offer bins free of charge to collect recyclables.
Some recycling places offer bins free of charge to collect recyclables.
Newsprint is a common recycled item.
Newsprint is a common recycled item.
Aluminum cans are recyclable.
Aluminum cans are recyclable.
Some garbage trucks are designed with special accommodations for materials that qualify for recycling.
Some garbage trucks are designed with special accommodations for materials that qualify for recycling.
Copy paper is made from recycled paper.
Copy paper is made from recycled paper.
Some recycling centers may specialize in hazardous chemicals, such as antifreeze.
Some recycling centers may specialize in hazardous chemicals, such as antifreeze.
Scrap metal is often collected from demolition sites and recycled.
Scrap metal is often collected from demolition sites and recycled.
Plastic containers are often made using recycled materials.
Plastic containers are often made using recycled materials.
New items, like tissue paper, can be made from recycled materials.
New items, like tissue paper, can be made from recycled materials.

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