What is Recycling: Definition and 31 Discussions

Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. The recovery of energy from waste materials is often included in this concept. The recyclability of a material depends on its ability to reacquire the properties it had in its original state. It is an alternative to "conventional" waste disposal that can save material and help lower greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling can prevent the waste of potentially useful materials and reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, thereby reducing: energy usage, air pollution (from incineration), and water pollution (from landfilling).
Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle" waste hierarchy. Thus, recycling aims toward environmental sustainability by substituting raw material inputs into and redirecting waste outputs out of the economic system. There are some ISO standards related to recycling such as ISO 15270:2008 for plastics waste and ISO 14001:2015 for environmental management control of recycling practice.
Recyclable materials include many kinds of glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, tires, textiles, batteries, and electronics. The composting or other reuse of biodegradable waste—such as food or garden waste—is also a form of recycling. Materials to be recycled are either delivered to a household recycling center or picked up from curbside bins, then sorted, cleaned, and reprocessed into new materials destined for manufacturing new products.
In the strictest sense, recycling of a material would produce a fresh supply of the same material—for example, used office paper would be converted into new office paper or used polystyrene foam into new polystyrene. This is accomplished when recycling certain types of materials, such as metal cans, becoming a can again and again, indefinitely, without losing purity in the product. However, this is often difficult or too expensive (compared with producing the same product from raw materials or other sources), so "recycling" of many products or materials involves their reuse in producing different materials (for example, paperboard) instead. Another form of recycling is the salvage of certain materials from complex products, either due to their intrinsic value (such as lead from car batteries, or gold from printed circuit boards), or due to their hazardous nature (e.g., removal and reuse of mercury from thermometers and thermostats).

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  1. Jonathan F

    Engineering Review of Concepts: Air Recycling Systems (closed-loop/open-loop)

    Hey, first post here. So I have to classify these 6 elements under closed-loop/open-loop system and under CO2 removal/oxygen supply. I thought it should be: Closed-loop CO2 removal: Rapid cycling anime, Lithium granules Closed-loop oxygen supply: Water electrolysis, Cryogenic tanks Open-loop CO2...
  2. Evanish

    Misc. DIY - Replacing my bicycle tire with recycled plastic

    So the rubber on one of my bicycle tires has worn out to the point it needs to be replaced, and I was thinking I'd prefer a solid tire this time. Rather then buying one like a normal person I was thinking if I could make my own out of recycled plastic. Here is the plan as it currently...
  3. Evanish

    How Can We Improve E-Waste Recycling for Smartphones?

    I was reading an article about smart phones. Here is a quote from it.. "If you are wondering what chemistry has to do with smartphones, just look at the periodic table. Of the 83 stable (nonradioactive) elements, at least 70 of them can be found in smartphones! That’s 84% of all of the...
  4. denisaf

    Laws of Mass Dynamics: Conservation & Transformation

    The laws of thermodynamics deal with the irreversible flow of energy. Conservation of energy is the first law and increasing entropy (disorder) in an energy flow is the second. The conservation of mass is the equivalent first law for matter. It is commonly recognized. But what about the...
  5. L

    Giant railguns recycling their own energy....in space

    There was a non-fiction book published a few decades back called "The Millennial Project", detailing a grandiose plan of setting humanity from current civilization into a thriving, space faring one within the next one thousand or so years. Its been so long, and I lost my copy of it, but I swear...
  6. S

    Recycle Electricity: Is It a Good Idea to Build a Long-Lasting Device?

    If I can recycle electricity with a device made of pieces of equipment that ware out very slowly (Years or longer) would it be a good idea to build such a device?
  7. D

    Engineering Ideas for preventing a fire at a tyre recycling plant ?

    Hey guys I was trying to come up with some ideas for preventing a fire at a recycling power plant. From an engineerings perspective. Some method of cooling or something ? any idea/input would be appreciated guys. thanks.
  8. T

    Material separator for recycling

    for my senior project in mechanical engineering .I'm thinking I'd like to design a machine for recycling .Basically ,different kinds of garbage can be thrown into it and separation of the materials for recycling is done by the machine .I'm not sure how to go about it though .I'm thinking the...
  9. D

    Recycling along convergent ocean trenches

    What is the feasability to utilizing the convergent ocean trenches as a means of recycling nuclear material and heavy metals? Basically, return to the Earth where the stuff came from in first place?
  10. H

    Recycling of gas and other materials in galaxies

    Hello, I am reading a fabulous (though somewhat older book) called "Intelligent life in the Universe" by s. Sagan and I.S. Shklovskii. They describe intense magnetic fields extending from the galactic core that channel interstellar gas and dust into the spiral arms which are the primary site...
  11. 1

    Can This Circuit be Used for Charge Recycling?

    hi will c1 and c3 discharge in c2 and c4 in this circuit? and can something like this be used for charge recycling?
  12. C

    Recycling parts from other electronics

    Hi everyone, first time poster on Physics forum here. I'm working on a school project to make a device to read QR code. I'm strapped for cash so I'm trying to figure out if I can recycle some parts from used electronics. Looking for the following parts: - a graphic LCD display - an arduino...
  13. M

    Recycling Heat Energy for Engines: Exploring Countercurrent Exchange

    When thinking about how everyday engines could be made to be more efficient . I remembered a biology lecture, where I was taught that the blood in the gills of a fish, move in the opposite direction of water flow when they swim, allowing them to absorb a higher level of oxygen from the water...
  14. M

    Electromagnetic paper Recycling system( photo-chromic or thermo-chromic inks?)

    Hi Everybody :) Recently I have been thinking on the concept of reusing paper instead of recycling it by using a special kind of photo-chromic ink, as chemistry is not my profession ia m writing here just to have your opinions about viability of this concept: what is the concept about...
  15. wolram

    Recycling Costs: Pain in Wallet with Slowing Economy

    It seems now the economy has slowed down recycling is going to be an even bigger pain in the wallet. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1104741/Recycling-crisis-Taxpayers-foot-UKs-growing-waste-paper-mountain-market-collapses.html
  16. M

    NASA BBC Story: Urine Recycling System for ISS - Odd Points Explored

    Story on the BBC about a urine recycling system for the ISS - it doesn't have a lot of tech details but a few points seemed odd. It uses distilation which means it needs a centrifuge to simulate gravity. A hand powered reverse osmosis pump on a lifeboat can take water from seawater - wouldn't...
  17. B

    Recycling a Laptop LCD - Tips & Tricks to Get Started

    So I have an LCD from a laptop, I had another thread going where I was trying to fix this laptop. I learned a but from the experience but no luck, motherboard is toast. I was doing some reading and there has been some successful attempts to recycle the LCD and have it run from another...
  18. E

    How efficient is paper recycling?

    How many pages go out for every page that goes in? I would be amazed if it were higher than 50%.
  19. J

    Plastic Bag Recycling: Costs, Disposal & Pollution

    Take a look at this slide show: http://www.poconorecord.com/_flash/soundslides/20080505plasticbags/soundslider.swf "There's harsh economics behind There's harsh economics behind bag recycling: It costs $4,000 to bag recycling: It costs $4,000 to process and recycle 1 ton of plastic...
  20. H

    News Feasibility of Nuclear Energy with Recycling (Pu) as Energy Solution in US

    Sorry, I meant 35% by 1973, about three years after our production peaked. 2/3 is an accurate figure for the United States now. About nuclear power, 10 years ago, when oil wasn't so costly, scare tactics kept us away from nuclear power. I mean we really lack common sense. The United States...
  21. T

    Is there a more efficient and cost-effective way to recycle at home?

    Hey everybody, For those interested in recycling at home, is there a commercially available recycling unit for homes (about as expensive and as large as about a washer/dryer machine)? I'm designing one at home using CAD, but I am curious as to if it already exists in the home already. I sure...
  22. wolram

    Is Recycling Gold from Old Computers Still Viable?

    Is in old puters? i have read about a company that re claims gold from them and other electronic components.
  23. M

    Is Recycling Your Own Paper Plagiarism?

    What do you think about recycling one of your old papers? I don't see how it would be plagiarism if it was your original work in the first place. Heres my situation - I wrote a 5 page on the history of a topic I am studying in my freshman intro class. Now, a few years later, I am in this...
  24. F

    Is the universe a recycling bin? (Entropy)

    It would seem to me that the universe is made up of certain Low Entropies here and there that could potentially turn into allot more Low Entropy like Humans for instance becoming more intelligent and organizing the universe. Right now we view the universe as mainly high Entropy and moving toward...
  25. M

    What's the truth behind the myths surrounding food production and consumption?

    It doesn't save energy. It doesn't save money. It creates filthy jobs. It doesn't save trees. It doesn't improve the environment. It doesn't save landfill space. Help me explain this unexplained phenomenon. This is not my beautiful world. :cry: Source: Penn & Teller: "Bulls Hit"
  26. wolram

    No problem, always happy to provide some clarification.

    Is there any cosmological observation that would suggest that once a star goes nova that its elements will not be recycled into another star, planet what ever ?
  27. B

    Atomic recycling and our bodies

    I heard that each our bodies have on average a billion of shakespears body's atoms in them (A short history of nearly everything, Bill Bryson). Is there any truth in this, does that mean we have on average a billion of every persons atoms that has ever lived?
  28. jimmy p

    Is recycling really that cost efficient?

    Is recycling really that cost efficient? I know that with some metals (eg. aluminium) it is cheaper to recycle because extraction is a ghastly and expensive process, but are there and organic compounds and metals which are cheaper to produce than recycle?
  29. S

    Recycling Atoms: A Skeptical Inquiry

    Also posted in skepticism forum: Hey everyone, Currently reading a new book by Bill Bryson, "A short history of nearly everything". Well, despite the title, clearly even a short history would be a very, very big book, still the read is quite addicting, and there are many scientific...
  30. S

    Do We Breathe the Same Atoms as Shakespeare?

    Hey everyone, Currently reading a new book by Bill Bryson, "A short history of nearly everything". Well, despite the title, clearly even a short history would be a very, very big book, still the read is quite addicting, and there are many scientific areas to which I was quite unfamiliar...
  31. L

    Recycling of reaction-mass by linear wormholes

    In my mind, I tried to overcome the horrendous problem of having to carry every gram of reaction mass with your space-craft. Surely, how could a person using three dimensions recycle mass without having the recycled fuel slow down the craft? In three-dimensions, Newton's Third Law could be a...