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Crushed cans in a recycling facility Recycling is the process of turning waste into new products and materials. Recycling is one of the “three Rs” of waste management: reduce, reuse and recycle. The aim of the three Rs is to conserve resources and protect the environment. Reducing waste means buying fewer products and choosing products with recyclable materials and less packaging. Reusing means using waste products to do the same job as they were made for: for example, reusing plastic shopping bags or glass bottles. Recycling involves sorting and processing recyclable products into their raw materials, then making those materials into new products. Materials that are commonly recycled include paper, metal, plastic, glass, textiles, electronic goods and biodegradable waste (which can be broken down by micro-organisms).

A landfill in Perth, Australia

Why recycle?

Waste comes from homes (domestic waste), factories (industrial waste), demolition sites (construction waste), farms (agricultural waste) and hospitals (medical waste). The traditional method of waste disposal is to bury it in landfills. When they are not properly operated, landfills pollute the surrounding area, spread disease and cause injury to animals. Even a well-operated landfill releases the greenhouse gas methane as its waste decays.

Up to 60% of a household’s waste could be recycled. Over a year, the unreleased energy contained in that rubbish could power a television for 5000 hours.

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