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 and 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 post-consumer is the source that helps keep recycling programs for consumers sustainable. 

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, hiking bootsclothing fabric made of recycled plastic bottles. 
  • Home maintenanceCarpeting, door mats, roofing, wallboard, paint, insulation, gutters and down spouts, siding and flooring.
  • Office suppliesCopier and printer papers, notepads, remanufactured toner cartridges, bulletin boards, rulers, scissors, pencils, and refurbished office furniture.