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Recycling is the collection of used materials that would otherwise be waste to be broken down and remade into new products. Similarly, reuse is collecting waste such as food and drink containers to be cleaned, refilled and resold. Proponents of recycling say that it prevents waste and reduces the consumption of new raw materials. Commonly recycled materials include glass, paper, aluminum, asphalt, and steel. These materials can be derived either from pre-consumer waste (materials used in manufacturing) or post-consumer waste (materials discarded by the consumer).
Many manufactured products are not readily biodegradable and take up space in landfills or must be incinerated. Recycling is an alternative to this. In theory, recycling would allow a continuing reuse of materials for the same purpose. In practice, recycling most often extends the useful life of a material, but in a less-versatile form. For example, when paper is recycled, the fibers shorten, making it less useful for high grade papers. Other materials can suffer from contamination, making them unsuitable for food packaging.
State support for recycling may be more expensive than alternatives such as landfill; recycling efforts in New York City in the USA cost $57 million per year.1 Enviromentalists argue that the benefits to society from recycling compensate for any difference in cost.
A number of U.S. states, such as California, Hawaii, Oregon, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Iowa, Michigan and New York have passed laws that establish deposits or refund values on beverage containers in order to promote recycling. Most are five cents per can or bottle. Michigan's deposit is 10 cents.
One form of recycling is the reuse of goods, especially bottles. Reuse is distinguished from most forms of recycling, where the good is reduced to a raw material and used in the making of a new good (example: crushing of bottles to make glass for new bottles). Refillable bottles are used extensively in many European countries; for example in Denmark, 98% of bottles are refillable, and 98% of those are returned by consumers.  These systems are typically supported by deposit laws and other regulations.
In some developing nations like India, the cost of new bottles often forces manufacturers to collect and refill old glass bottles for selling cola and other drinks. India also has a way of reusing old newspapers: "Kabadiwalas" buy these from the readers for scrap value and reuse them in packaging or in recycling plants. These scrap intermediaries also help in disposing other articles and metals from the consumers and is a lucrative business for the resellers. Template:Fact
In the former East Germany, organic household waste was collected and used as fodder for pigs. This integrated system was made possible by the state's control of agriculture; the complexities of continuing it in a market economy after German reunification meant the system had to be discontinued. Organic household waste is still collected separately in some towns in Germany, and may be used for fertilizer or landfilled in more sensitive locations where other waste cannot be.
In North America, organic household waste, especially yard waste such as leaves on a seasonal basis, is often collected and heaped up to form compost.
Recycling is generally at its peak during wartimes or energy shortages. Massive government promotion campaigns were carried out in World War II in every country involved in the war, urging citizens to conserve metals and fiber. These resource conservation programs established during the war were continued in some natural resource-poor countries, such as Japan, after the war ended.
In the USA, the next big investment in recycling occurred in the 1970s, due to rises in energy costs (recycling aluminum uses only 5% of the energy required by virgin production; glass, paper and metals have less dramatic but very significant energy savings when recycled feedstock is used). The passage of the Clean Water Act in the USA created strong demand for bleached paper (office paper whose fiber has already been bleached white increased in value as water effluent became more expensive).
On September 17, 1981, the first ever blue box recycling program was launched in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Today, more than 90% of Ontario households have access to recycling programs and annually they divert more than 650,000 tonnes (1 tonne = 2,200 pounds) of secondary resource materials. The "blue box" program has expanded in various forms throughout Canada and to countries around the world such as United Kingdom, France and Australia, serving more than 40 million households in countries around the world.
In 1987, a barge called the Mobro 4000, containing a little over 3,000 tons of garbage departed from Islip, New York to deposit its load of garbage in Morehead City, North Carolina. However, before it reached its destination, rumors that it contained medical waste caused officials at Morehead City to deny the barge permission to unload its garbage. As a result, the barge traveled down the East coast of the United States searching for a place to unload, eventually being denied in Mexico and Belize. The barge finally returned to Islip, where the trash was incinerated after a brief legal battle. The barge's journey became a small media event. According the Federal Reserve bank of Boston , Kelly Ferguson (editor of a pulp and paper industry newsletter) , and conservative columnist John Tierney , media coverage of the Mobro 4000 led to the false public perception that American landfills were nearly out of space. They say that this perception led to increased public interest in programs to recycle household goods.
Another major event that initiated recycling efforts occurred in 1989 when the city of Berkeley, California, banned the use of polystyrene packaging for keeping McDonald's hamburgers warm. One effect of this ban was to raise the ire of management at Dow Chemical, the worldâ€™s largest manufacturer of Polystyrene, which led to the first major efforts to show that plastics can be recycled. By 1999, there were 1,677 companies in the USA alone involved in the post-consumer plastics recycling business.
- PVC recycling
- Concrete recycling
- Electronic Recycling
- Energy conservation
- Extended producer responsibility
- Freecycle Network
- Full Depth Recycling
- Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)
- Paper recycling
- Plastic recycling
- Glass recycling
- Recycling of PET Bottles
- Resin identification code
- Ship-Submarine recycling program
- Thermal depolymerization
- Vintage clothing
- Waste management
- PAYT - Pay As You Throw
- Video archive of BBC footage - an investigation into 3rd world dumps for western rubbish
- Virtual pedagogic tools for education of recycling for kids, see the videodemo
- Waste Management Information
- Ill effects of RFID Tags on recycling
- A Recycling Revolution
- Local recycling information
- Recycling Cell Phones
- Recycling Information
- Glass Recycling
- Paper Recycling
- National Recycling Coalition
- New York Times Magazine: Recyling is Garbage
- ReReRe Guide Guide to Recycling, reducing and reusing products
- "Why Software Reuse has Failed and How to Make It Work for You" Article by Douglas C. Schmidt
- Waste Management Information
- Scenarios and Strategies for an Extended Producer Responsibility System From the Swedish Morphological Society
- Electronic Recycling A university campaign aimed at promoting "Ecycling" in the UK
- Eight Great Myths of Recycling A paper by Daniel K. Benjamin of the Property, Environment, and Research Center detailing the reasons why some recycling programs have proved costly and ineffective
- Is Recycling Good For The Environment? Allan L. Griff, Consulting Engineer, Plastic Extrusion Consultant and Educator
- Swedes trash myth of refuse recycling