What is recycling? - That's what it's all about and how it works.

Here you will find out what is behind recycling and how you can easily implement it. All the advantages and disadvantages of the recycling cycle

What is recycling

Author: Lara-Sophie Buckow

What is recycling?

Recycling means the preparation and subsequent reuse of raw materials that have already been used. Recycling thus creates a cycle in which the material is repeatedly broken down into its individual pieces and then used for new products.

When it comes to recycling, a distinction is made between two processes: downcycling and Upcycling.

  1. Downcycling means that the raw material is not preserved in its original quality. A devaluation takes place, as for example with waste paper, plastic or old clothes. The materials can be recycled, i.e. reused. However, the individual fibres are shorter or brittle and thus do not represent the one hundred percent quality of a new raw material.
  2. Upcycling means the exact opposite. The products remain in their original form. These merely find a new purpose. You probably know bags made from old truck tarpaulin, clothes made from old coffee sacks or have seen glasses or vases made from old glass bottles at your friends'. An old product is turned into something new.

Recycling aims to reuse old materials to create new things. This means that no new raw materials are necessary and there is less waste. So a cycle is created.

Advantages and disadvantages of recycling:

Why you should recycle too? Here are the pros and cons:

Advantages of recycling:

  • Less resources are required, which protects the environment
  • The production of new products costs a lot of energy. High savings can be made here through recycling
  • The manufacture of new materials, especially in poorer countries, often has catastrophic effects on the environment due to the incorrect disposal of chemicals. These do not apply to the reuse of existing materials
  • In the optimal case, a closed cycle is created without waste or procurement of new raw materials

Disadvantages of recycling:

  • The original quality can no longer be fully achieved
  • Collection of individual waste directly from the consumer causes car gases that pollute the environment

Where does the recycling trend come from?

It may often seem as if the process of recycling is a new trend. However, this has been around for many years.

It wasn't just your grandparents who tried to reuse everything during the war due to a lack of goods and materials. A lot of things were recycled in the Middle Ages too. Even human products such as hair or bones were used to make everyday objects. Recycling has its origins in agriculture. From the beginning, crop residues, manure and liquid manure were used to fertilize the field. Since the beginning, every farmer has been able to have a closed one circulation create within his own yard.

Recycling for the environment

Today, for the most part, we no longer have resource scarcity that we notice in our everyday lives. However, recycling is now highly topical again. Society has become aware of how wasteful we have been in the last decades, harming ourselves and the planet. Recycling helps us to procure fewer raw materials and produce less waste.


Which materials are recyclable?

These materials are suitable for recycling:

  • Old electrical appliances: Electronic products such as computers or cell phones can be dismantled into their individual parts so that the small parts, some of which even contain very valuable metals, can be reused.
  • Glass: Glass bottles and glasses are 100% recyclable as they can be re-melted and cast into new shapes after use. However, this process is quite energy-intensive. It is important that the lid is separated from the glass when disposing of used glass. This is the only way the glass can be recycled.
  • Paper, cardboard: Most recycling facilities recycle newspapers, cardboard boxes, office paper and cardboard packaging. Here too, it is very important to separate waste responsibly. For example, with (vegan) mince, you should definitely remove the plastic film from the cardboard before putting the cardboard in the waste paper.
  • Organic waste: Organic waste includes leftover food or other organic waste. You can either process the organic waste into compost in your own garden or separate the organic waste responsibly.
  • Plastic packaging: Some plastic packaging is easily recyclable. These include, for example, PET or HDPE bottles. If you want to find out how recyclable a product is, you can easily look for it Recycling number search.
  • Bulky waste: Also large waste such as Or in other words: furniture are recyclable. It is important here that the furniture is designed to be disassembled. In Germany, furnishings and other bulky waste can be disposed of at a regional recycling center.
  • Textiles: In the fashion and furniture industry, more and more companies are striving for textile recycling. This makes it possible to use fewer resources. For this purpose, you can, for example, look at fashion brands that rely on recycled materials.

Is there any point in recycling?

In Germany in particular, great importance is attached to the separation of different materials during disposal for later recycling. However, the Federal Environment Agency has found out that only one third of the waste is disposed of properly. This makes the process very difficult. Landfills cannot simply recycle the waste. Proper sorting costs a lot of time as well as money, which is why it often does not take place. This causes the waste of valuable resources. It is therefore important that every household separates its waste properly so that recycling can take place.

Recycling as a myth?

The prejudice that sorting rubbish is of no use anyway because it will ultimately be burned is not true. The dual systems in Germany make it possible for materials that can be recycled to be reused. Only residual waste is burned in Germany. Today more and more companies are relying on the use of recycled materials materials. This gives the materials that once ended up in your trash a new life.

Source & Copyright Bavarian State Ministry for Environment and Consumption

5 tips for more recycling in everyday life

  1. Upcycling: Before you throw something away, think about whether you can turn it into something new and upcycle it yourself. Simply resew clothes if they no longer fit properly, or create your own blanket or bag from individual items that you no longer wear. Use old cans as pen holders or flower pots. Simply repaint the old dresser and add second-hand handles to give it a new shine. There are endless possibilities to create something new and useful from your old things.
  2. Waste separation: If you can no longer use it, make sure that it is properly sorted. Glass is sorted by color and disposed of in the glass container. Cardboard and paper go into the waste paper bin. Packaging made of plastic, metal or composite materials belongs in the yellow sack or bin. In addition, it is very helpful for the recycling process if you separate different packaging materials from one another. This makes sorting easier later in the landfill within the automatic sorting.
  3. Compose yourself: You can dispose of organic waste either in your home compost or in the organic waste bin.
  4. Hand over electrical appliances: Take electronic devices to the recycling center, where they will be broken down into their individual parts and reused. Since 2016, shops that sell new electrical devices have also had to accept and recycle old devices. If you are ever unsure how to dispose of a product correctly so that it enters the recycling cycle as much as possible, you can Initiative of the dual systems visit.
  5. Pass on old clothes: If you no longer need clothes, you can give them to a used clothing container, donate them, or resell them on sustainable apps. Existing textiles are reused.

Recycling works and is easier than you think

Every beginning is difficult, but it is very important that we deal with our behavior as consumers. In addition to buying sustainable and long-lasting products, correct disposal and recycling after use are also part of this. Deal with the topic bit by bit. Ask friends and acquaintances how they deal with recycling and learn from each other. This makes the whole thing a lot more fun and you make an important contribution to the circular economy.


Always informed about the latest lifestyle trends, architecture, design & interior, as well as current technologies around sustainability.

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