The following is a concise list of overview items relating to recycling in its various forms.

  1. Recycling is the reprocessing of used materials that would otherwise become waste in order to break them down and remake them into new products.
  2. This is in contrast with reuse: collecting waste such as food containers to be cleaned, refilled and resold.
  3. Recycling prevents the waste being sent to a landfill or incinerator, and reduces the consumption of new raw materials.
  4. Commonly recycled materials include glass, paper, aluminum, asphalt, steel and textiles.
  5. These materials can be derived either from pre-consumer waste (materials used in manufacturing) or post-consumer waste (materials discarded by the consumer).
  6. Recycling is a key concept of modern waste management.
  7. In theory, recycling allows a continuing reuse of materials for the same purpose. In most cases this is true, especially with metals and glass.
  8. In the case of fiber, recycling most often extends the useful life of this material, but in a less-versatile form.
  9. This is referred to as down cycling.
  10. For example, when paper is recycled, the fibers shorten, making it less useful for high grade papers.
  11. Other materials can suffer from contamination, making them unsuitable for food packaging.