Stages of Recycling

Stage 1: Collection, Sorting and Cleaning

Recycling Factory
Image credit: gavinandrewstewart
It all starts with you! Utilizing your neighborhood's recycling collection system is the first step in the process. Typically, recyclable materials are collected curbside, at drop-off recycling centers or via deposit programs. Check with your local municipality for more information.

Once the recycled materials have been collected, they next go to a recovery facility where they are sorted. The sorting process usually involves a combination of mechanical sorters, magnets, forced air, optics and manual sorting by workers. Next up is the processing facility, where the sorted materials from the recovery facility are converted into usable material. Plastics are shredded and paper is soaked in water.

Stage 2: Manufacturing

In the manufacturing stage of recycling, manufacturers create (re-manufacture) new products from recycled materials. This involves a significant investment on the part of manufacturers but has huge environmental benefits.

Stage 3: Buying products made from recycled material

Look for the recycling symbol and check the ingredients list. The presence of a recycling symbol doesn't always mean that a product was made from recycled material. Check to see what the percentage of Post Consumer content is. Post Consumer means that the material was previously used and has been recycled.