What is Waste Recycling?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Waste recycling is the process of utilizing commercially produced and organic materials in a new way once the materials are no longer suitable for their original purpose. Recycling can involve anything from creating compost from organic materials at the end of a gardening season to reprocessing aluminum cans for the creation of new products. Engaging in waste recycling helps to ease the burden on limited natural resources, as well as minimize the amount of waste that would otherwise occupy landfills and garbage dumps around the world.

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

Some forms of waste recycling have been in use for centuries. Farmers often make use of clippings and dead plants to restore the nutrients of planting fields. At the end of a growing season, the final crops are harvested and the plants removed from the fields. The plants are added to what is known as a compost heap. As the organic material decays, it becomes suitable for use as fertilizer in vegetable and flour gardens. This continuing cycle helps to ensure that the upcoming season will result in a successful crop and harvest.

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

In more recent times, waste recycling has often focused on removing items from the trash and forwarding them to recycling centers. Used items such as newspapers and magazines, glass bottles, and aluminum cans can all be reprocessed and provide the raw materials required to produce new goods. It is not unusual for many municipalities to sponsor some type of recycling effort, scheduling specific days of the week when sanitation workers collect specified types of used items. Often, the city or town provides receptacles of some type, such as a bag or canister similar to those used for trash collection, that citizens use to collect the recyclable items and leave them at the curb on the appointed day.

Recycling helps reduce the amount of waste generated by a community.
Recycling helps reduce the amount of waste generated by a community.

Trash recycling can also involve the process of re-purposing a used item, giving it new life. For example, a small dining table may be altered into a coffee table by simply shortening the legs. An armoire may be reconditioned for use as a television or general media cabinet. Sections of denim jeans may be converted into backpacks or purses, while old bath towels can be cut into sections and used to wash the car. Re-purposing is one of the most common ways to waste recycle, and is often employed by people who do not engage in other forms of waste recycling.

Recycling allows discarded materials to be repurposed and made into something new.
Recycling allows discarded materials to be repurposed and made into something new.

Engaging in the process of waste recycling usually involves being aware of what types of items are accepted at recycling centers, as well as being creative in adapting items to a new purpose. Many communities are home to at least one agency or association that promotes the general idea of recycling. For people who are looking for unusual ideas for reusing older items, there are a number of web sites devoted to re-purposing everything from timber salvaged when homes are demolished to old neckties.

Recycle bins can be used to collect recyclable waste.
Recycle bins can be used to collect recyclable waste.
Materials such as denim can be recycled into items such as purses or backpacks.
Materials such as denim can be recycled into items such as purses or backpacks.
Waste recycling has recently begun to to focus on removing items from the trash and forwarding them to recycling centers.
Waste recycling has recently begun to to focus on removing items from the trash and forwarding them to recycling centers.
Aluminum soda cans are frequently recycled.
Aluminum soda cans are frequently recycled.
Glass bottles can be used to build a bottle wall.
Glass bottles can be used to build a bottle wall.
A recycling plant may be able to dispose of hazardous waste if it is properly sealed in a container.
A recycling plant may be able to dispose of hazardous waste if it is properly sealed in a container.
Plastics, glass bottles, paper and cans can all be recycled into new items, saving energy and materials and reducing the amount of trash in landfills.
Plastics, glass bottles, paper and cans can all be recycled into new items, saving energy and materials and reducing the amount of trash in landfills.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

Sporkasia

I think if more people could go to a waste recycling plant where the items are being renewed and prepared to be used again then you would have more people willing to recycle. Otherwise, people just assume that what they are doing doesn't make much of a difference and the extra effort isn't worth their time.

Laotionne

I live in an apartment complex with probably a couple hundred units. The apartments are all ground floor and the trash and recycling is picked up once a week on the curb. The trash is collected in large green plastic trash cans with wheels and the recycling is collected in much smaller blue plastic tubs that you carry--no wheels.

I think the size of the containers says a lot. Even the city knows that they are going to have more trash than they are going to have items for recycling. I think if recycling was made easier then more people would do it. Out of all the people in the complex, I bet there are only about 10 of those blue tubs filled and put out on the curb each week.

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