Concerns about limited resources such as raw materials and land space for disposal of waste have increased the importance of recycling. However maximum environmental benefit is gained by reducing the amount of waste produced, and reusing items in their current form, for example refilling bottles. All recycling techniques consume energy, for transportation and processing, and some also use considerable amounts of water. Both of these resources have an environmental impact which is why campaigners use the slogan Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to indicate the preferred order for waste management. The following is a concise list of recycling methods.
- Aluminum - Aluminum is shredded and ground into small pieces. These pieces are melted in a furnace to produce molten aluminum.
- Concrete - Concrete aggregate collected from demolition sites is put through a crushing machine, often along with asphalt, bricks, dirt, and rocks and used as gravel for new construction projects.
- Electrical Equipment – “E-waste” is collected and sorted based on whether it is usable or not usable, both domestically and internationally, and depending on the result it is incinerated, compacted, reconstituted, recycled, or reused.
- Glass - Glass bottles and jars are gathered via curbside collection schemes and bottle banks and taken to a glass recycling plant where it is monitored for purity and contaminants and crushed and added to a raw material mix in a melting furnace
- Organic waste - Organic waste can be recycled into useful material by biological decomposition either through recycling of household organic waste (home composting) or municipal curbside collection of green wastes sent to large scale composting plants.
- Paper - Paper recycling involves separating the paper into its component fibers in water, which creates a pulp slurry material. A cleaning process removes non-fibrous contaminants, and if required, sodium hydroxide or sodium carbonate is used to de-ink the material. This fiber is then ready to be used to make new recycled paper.
- Plastic - Plastic recycling is the process of taking scrap or waste plastics and recovering the material for use in manufacturing. For instance, this could mean melting down polyester soft drink bottles, and spinning the polymer into fibers.
- Textiles – Textile involves workers who sort collected textiles to separate them into good quality clothing and shoes which can be reused, worn or damaged textiles which can be sorted into grades to make industrial wiping cloths and for use in paper manufacture, and material which is suitable for fiber reclamation and filling products.