Recycling & Waste Management

Get the Scoop on Closing the Loop - Take Some Action

Supporting the recycling process doesn’t end when you toss a bottle in a bin. That’s only the supply side of recycling, supplying material for the process. The demand side of recycling is the other side of recycling, and involves buying new products made of recycled material. It’s called “closing the loop.” Think of recycling as a big cycle where new products are made, sold, used, recycled, and then the recycled material is made into new products and sold all over again.

If your school is conscious about trying to buy products that contain recycled material, your school is helping to show the economy that recycled material is in high demand.

Not all recycled content is created equal, though. To make a true difference, learn to find the best recycled product by considering two things:
  • The percentage of recycled material. % can vary between something lower than 10% to as high as 100%. Obviously, 100% recycled-content is more impressive.

  • Whether the recycled content is labeled "postconsumer content" or simply "recycled-content." If a product says it contains postconsumer recycled content, then it means it’s made of material that was once bought, used, and recycled by consumers in the same way that you recycle bottles or paper at your school. If a product says it contains recycled-content, then it just means that it’s made of material that would have otherwise been discarded, maybe left-over material in the factory, for example. It doesn’t guarantee the material came from the recycling process of consumers buying and recycling. Therefore, recycled-content is good, but postconsumer recycled content is better.
To learn more about closing the loop and how to buy the best recycled products, check out the EPA’s website on buying recycled. In the right-hand corner, you’ll see a box with a list of guides. And further down in the right-hand corner, you’ll see another box with a list of online product directories providing recycling product information.

Another useful guide is this searchable database for places in California to buy recycled products by