Nov. 15 is America Recycles Day.
In order to support recycling efforts, look for products made from high percentages of post-consumer waste, which is the waste produced by the end consumer of a material stream. Post-consumer waste is the garbage that individuals routinely discard, either in a waste receptacle or a dump, or by littering, incinerating, pouring down the drain or washing into the gutter.
Post-consumer waste is distinguished from pre-consumer waste, which is the reintroduction of manufacturing scrap (such as trimmings from paper production, defective aluminum cans, etc.) back into the manufacturing process. Pre-consumer waste has been commonly used by industries for many years, and is therefore often not considered recycling in the traditional sense.
Therefore, buying products with post-consumer content is an easy way to keep landfills lean. It avoids using virgin resources like forests and strengthens the market for recycled materials. We can separate all the metal, paper and plastic we want, but if no business remakes the scrap into something new, the cycle is broken.
Many bottles, cans, bags, boxes and packaging materials are made with recycled content these days. So check labels. Choose a product that has a high percentage of post-consumer waste over one that does not.
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