Completing The Loop

Each of the three arrows in the recycling symbol has a meaning. The first arrow represents the collection of recyclables and the separation from the waste stream. The second arrow represents the manufacturers which take the recyclable material and make a new product from it. The last arrow represents consumers buying the recycled content products produced by the manufacturers. This is why many people say "you're not recycling until you are buying recycled content products."

Many common consumer products contain recycled content. In fact, it is very likely that you have "completed the loop" and bought recycled content products.

  • Over one-third of the corrugated cardboard boxes produced in the U.S. have recycled content in it.
  • Over 25% of the glass bottles produces in the U.S. have recycled glass content.
  • Over half of the aluminum cans produced in the U.S. have recycled content.
  • The Lincoln Journal-Star Newspaper contains recycled newsprint. Depending on the supplier of the newsprint the percentage of recycled content in the newsprint ranges from 25% to 30%.

The first step in buying recycled products is learning to identify the recycling symbols

Non-shaded recycling symbol indicates container is recyclable A product labeled with a recycling symbol containing no background shading means that the product can be recycled after it is used.
Made with Post-Consumer Recycled Product Products labeled with a recycling symbol containing shading in the background means that the product was made from recycled content material.

Products Made From Recycled Content

Here are some common product packages made from recycled material that you can find in your local store.

Paper Products

  • Sanitary tissue products
  • Food packaging
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Molded paper egg cartons

Office Products

  • Printer ribbons, toner cartridges
  • Pencils, pens
  • Binders, paper, envelopes
  • Desk top accessories

Construction Products

  • Insulation
  • Carpet
  • Plastic patio decking
  • Dry wall

Yard Products

  • Wood chips, mulch and compost
  • Soaker hoses
  • Furniture, plastic fencing
  • Patio blocks

Buying recycled products is important because it saves natural resources, energy, clean air and water, landfill space, money and it creates jobs.

Ways You Can Help the Recycling Process

  • Read product labels looking for recycled content.
  • Commit to buy recycled at home.
  • Ask local retailers to stock more products made from recycled material.
  • If one of your favorite products does not have recycled content, call the manufacturer and ask them to change it.
  • Check your phone book about local recycling programs. Most phone books list materials that are being recycled in your community.
  • Tell your friends about recycled content products that you like.