Recycling is a Manufacturing Process

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Sometimes recycling can feel like magic - making new items out of old ones. In reality, recycling is a manufacturing process - machinery is used to create new items on a large scale.

As NRRA Board Member and recycling expert, Roger Guzowski, wrote:

"Recycling is not good because landfilling is bad. Recycling is good because recycling is good. In a manufacturing process without recycling, a natural resource (trees, iron ore, bauxite ore, silica, etc.) is extracted, processed, manufactured into sellable consumer products, consumed, and then discarded – typically into a landfill or combustion facility. Recycling is that same manufacturing process, only instead of extracting natural resources, we get those resources from stuff that someone was discarding."

When we remember that recycling is a manufacturing process, we can better understand why contamination is such a problem. Just as you wouldn't want contamination in other manufacturing (such as the manufacturing of car parts or the manufacturing of food containers), contamination in recycling is also problematic.

The best material for manufacturing is clean and well sorted, free from anything that shouldn't be in the mix. You can help keep the manufacturing process of recycling run at its best - and get the most revenue back from your recyclables - by making sure you ONLY recycle items that CAN be recycled (no more wish-cycling for you!) and by recycling consistently. And when in doubt, THROW IT OUT!

Read Roger's full article on how Recycling is a Manufacturing Process:

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This material is based upon work supported under a grant by the Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Rural Utilities Service. Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Inc., is an equal opportunity provider and employer.