To recycle is collecting waste or scrap and reprocessing the material into useful products. It is energy intensive and often used to help companies greenwash their products by showcasing products made from recycled material or that their products can be recycled. Although recycling has value, reducing the need for objects is the vital, followed by the reusing or repurposing of those objects when they are no longer needed.
Glass, paper, plastic, and metals such as aluminum and steel are all commonly recycled. However, to be recycled, there must be a facility that can reprocess that specific type of waste and the cost to process the waste must be lower than the cost of using virgin material. The waste must also be brought to a recycling collection point and meet certain requirements, such as:
- Free of contaminates
- An unused cardboard pizza box can be recycled, whereas a cardboard pizza box with grease stains is not (though it can be composted).
- Plastic and aluminum can both be recycled separately, but plastic laminated aluminum, such as condiment packages, are not.
- Plastic can be recycled, but most recycling centers cannot recycle plastic straws.