Recycling represents a process for changing waste into new products in order to prevent or reduce pollution, to reuse ingredients or parts, reduce the use of raw materials and usage of energy. Also, this process takes the third place in the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” waste hierarchy.
Some ISO standards regulates recycling process, for example ISO 15270:2008 regulates plastic waste or ISO 14001:2004 regulates environmental management control of recycling practice.
The majority of materials are recyclable, e.g. many kinds of paper, glass, textiles, electronics and plastic. Despite the fact that the effects of the composting or other ways of reusing of biodegradable waste (garden waste, food…) are similar, it’s not considered recycling. So, materials for recycling are collected, sorted, then cleaned and reprocessed into new bound for further manufacturing.
To be strict, recycling process means producing a fresh supply of the same material, e.g. recycled office paper would be transformed into new office paper or similar. In many cases this process is too expensive if we compare it to producing the product from fresh raw materials), so it is common to reuse materials for producing different materials instead.
Salvage of certain materials from a complex product is another form of recycling. It can be performed either to their hazardous nature, e.g. reuse or removal mercury) or due to their value, e.g. gold from mobile and computer components.
Some critics dispute that the costs and energy used in collection of waste could outweigh the costs and energy in the production process. And sometimes that jobs created by the recycling industry doesn’t worth loosing jobs in mining, logging and other industries related to production process. Also, some materials can be recycled only a few times before degradation prevents further recycling. Of course, proponents of recycling reject these claims and arguments from both sides lid to enduring controversy.