Recycling is the collection, processing, and reuse of materials that would otherwise be thrown away. Recycling materials to make new products costs less and requires less energy than using new materials. It can also reduce pollution and it decreases the amount of waste that would otherwise end up in landfills.
Almost any material can be recycled, and the world's most recycled material is none other than steel. In addition to steel, aluminim is another commonly recycled material. Generally an aluminum can will contain 50% recycled aluminum. There is money to be made from recycling steel, aluminum, and copper.
Plastics are a little more difficult to recycle as there are 7 different categories of plastics. For plastic recycling to be effective, these different categories cannot be mixed; therefore, they are given a code and assigned a number. Paper and paper products are the most plentiful single item in landfills, but every ton of paper that gets recycled can save 50 cubic feet of landfill space. Glass containers are the most common form of glass that is recycled.
Food and yard waste can be composted and used as a garden, flowerbed, or lawn amendment. This compost makes healthier soil, and is a form of at-home recycling.
Recycling helps us to keep and maintain our natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable, by reducing the need for new raw materails. Once minerals such as iron, copper, and aluminum are mined, they cannot be replaced. Even replanting trees is not sufficient to maintain our supply of paper as trees take time to grow and mature, and in the process of continually harvesting we fragment wildlife habitat and disrupt ecosystems that we depend on to clean our water and air. Recycling saves energy and resources!