Buy Recycled: It Closes the Loop

It’s simple economics. The value of recycled materials is driven by market demand. As consumers, we must choose products or packaging with recycled content, so that the materials we recycle are put to use, and markets are sustained.

Recycled materials used in manufacturing products or packaging fall into two categories: “pre-consumer” and “post-consumer”.

Pre-consumer is often referred to as “mill scraps”. It is recycled internally at manufacturing plants.

Post-consumer refers to materials that are used by consumers then returned, through recycling programs, to the manufacturing process.

Many products or packaging that use “post-consumer” content, will indicate so on its packaging, sometimes with a percentage (the higher, the better). Pre-consumer is good, but “postconsumer” is the source that helps keep recycling programs for consumers sustainable. At the very least, you may see the following symbols. Here’s what they mean:


Recyclable


Recycled Content

If you’re having a hard time finding products, it never hurts to ask. Ask retailers to stock products with recycled-content, or ask manufacturers to provide recycled-content products.

Products that typically include recycled materials

  • Packaging: Boxes for foods such as cereal, crackers and cake mix. Bottles containing liquid laundry detergent, dishwashing liquids, shampoos and household cleaners.
  • Paper products: Facial tissue, toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, greeting cards, writing paper and corrugated cardboard shipping boxes.
  • Plastic products: Coat hangers, desk accessories, storage organizers, patio furniture, playground equipment and toys.
  • Automotive: Re-refined motor oil, retread tires, rebuilt/remanufactured parts and used cars.
  • Garden supplies: Hoses, planters and mulch.
  • Clothing and accessories: Tennis shoes and hiking boots. Clothing fabric made of recycled plastic bottles.
  • Home maintenance: Carpeting, door mats, roofing, wallboard, paint, insulation, gutters and down spouts, siding and flooring.
  • Office supplies: Copier and printer papers, notepads, remanufactured toner cartridges,bulletin boards, rulers, scissors, pencils and refurbished office furniture.