(See endnote 17)
Recycling is the removal of useful materials such as paper, glass, plastic, and metals from the solid waste and reuse of the materials in such a manner that they do not contribute to an increase in insect and rodent problems, air pollution problems, water pollution problems, land pollution problems, or odors. Recycling prevents pollution caused by the manufacture of new products from the original materials, saves natural resources, saves the energy needed for production, and decreases the level of greenhouse gases by not adding new ones to the atmosphere. In 2013, about 87 million tons of municipal solid waste was either recycled or composted.
Special types of recycling include e-cycling, scrap tires, and used oil. E-cycling is the reuse of electronic products by various agencies which can extend the life of the products and reduce the level of waste for disposal. It also saves a substantial amount of electricity which was needed to produce the products and large amounts of copper, silver, gold, and palladium.
Scrap tires (there are more than 275 million of them in stockpiles) are used as fuel, used in civil engineering projects, converted to ground rubber, used in rubber-modified asphalt, put into special products, and used in agriculture. Used oil can be re-refined into new oil products such as lubricating oil instead of using crude oil as the base.
Recycling programs are effective where the materials can be economically processed into a form that is competitive with the virgin material. The recycled materials need to be free of contaminants and can be sold on the private market. The use of disposal fees based on the amount of solid waste being produced can help make recycling more cost-effective for the citizens doing it.